Fifteen years ago, I stood on a grassy quad under four tall trees, the duck pond and skate house a few yards away. My family was there, my friends from college, my colleagues from Washington, my former philosophy professor, my boss -- all had come to celebrate the wedding of two twenty-somethings on the campus where they'd originally met. I wore white. Colin wore an expansive smile, his eyes crinkling at the edges.
Last night, I pulled out the pictures from our reception. There's my mom, dancing with the president of the college. There's my office mate from the Department of Justice, chatting up (flirting with?) my maid of honor. There's my younger brother, 8 years old that June day, the exact age my younger son is now. There's Colin's maternal grandfather, his paternal grandmother, and my own grandmother, all three of whom, like my mother, have since passed away.
Fifteen years doesn't seem like a long time, until I consider how many people have died in the interim. And then I think about those who've been born, like my kids, and time itself seems both fluid and nonsensical.
Colin's away this week on business, so my boys announced this morning that they'd help me celebrate by making dinner tonight. "We'll cook you something from The Enchanted Broccoli Forest," Andrew declared, scanning the cookbook-crammed shelves. I haven't a clue why he chose that one.
As evening rolled nearer, he and his brother reconsidered. "Maybe you can make us spaghetti, and we'll make you cookies."
This time, for once, I stayed out of the way. Except for chopping the chocolate and handling the oven, they did it all.
And in Colin's absence, they made my evening sweet and special. It recalled a night, fifteen years ago, when they weren't even a glimmer on the radar.
Recipe for Milk and Dark Chocolate Chunk Cookies
My kids picked out a Better Homes and Gardens cookbook called The Ultimate Cookie Book (Meredith Books, 2007) as a gift for me last December, and it's one of their favorites. The recipes are extremely straightforward, with few flourishes, so they're perfect for two kids under 10 to make with minimal supervision. This recipe is our adaptation of the chocolate chunk cookies.
Makes 24 cookies
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup light brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 egg (lightly beat a whole egg and reserve 1/2 of it for another use)
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 cup white whole wheat flour
3 ounces dark chocolate (72%), chopped
3 ounces milk chocolate, chopped
Preheat the oven to 375. Line 2 rimmed baking sheets with silpats or parchment.
In the bowl of a stand mixer, beat the butter on high for 30 seconds. Add the two sugars and the baking soda and beat until combined, scraping the sides of the bowl. Beat in first the egg and vanilla, then the two flours and the salt, stopping the machine to scrape down the sides of the bowl a few times as you go. Stir in the chocolate chunks.
Use a 1-1/2" scoop to portion out the dough, 12 to a baking sheet. Bake 10 to 14 minutes, or until lightly browned and set, reversing the sheet pans halfway through baking. Cool on a wire rack.