Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies

Six and a half years ago I was accepted to the graduate program at Brigham Young University. I was so grateful to be accepted--and so nervous. I was working full time with the most wonderful group of women at Gulf Coast Community College's Student Support Services TRiO program. I had become close friends with Robin, the support specialist, who was magic with ideas. My role was to organize her big imagination into manageable activities. Often times, it worked.The final months at Student Support Services are a blur of parties, food, activities, and laughter. I loved the students and student employees I worked with, many with whom I still keep contact. Every day was a good day at work.

In a program like Student Support Services, food becomes a big motivator. Students need a boost: how about a pizza party? Graduation party: we'll get in touch with Olive Garden! Birthdays, Christmas, breakfasts, Halloween, TRiO Day, and, of course, my sweet farewell party. Coworkers and students liked to share recipes. Glenda gave me the recipe for the now-famous asparagus polenta au-gratin that I am compelled to make every Thanksgiving and Easter. Judy gave me some amazing pie and cake recipes that have more butter and cream than I dare admit. Robin found loads of recipes for main dishes, sides, and desserts. I have a binder full of Gulf Coast recipes.

During those Gulf Coast days I would make oatmeal chocolate chip cookies every few weeks. I never felt guilty because the recipe has no butter and uses half whole wheat and half white flour. Sure, chocolate chips have their share of fat, but--for me--chocolate is a necessary ingredient.

When it was time to move back to Utah away from Florida, my dad flew 2500 miles just to drive four days across the country with my not-quite-three-year-old daughter and myself. I made a huge batch of oatmeal chocolate chip cookies to take on the drive. My dad was addicted to those cookies. He still remembers them as fondly as our trip to the Gibson Factory.

Boo and Grandpa in Memphis 2007

Last week I was looking for a dessert to make for a funeral held at our church when I stumbled upon this recipe in my Gulf Coast recipe binder. I don't remember who gave me the original recipe, but this is my own variation. Hope you enjoy!

Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies

(Nicole's perfected blend)

1/4 cup water
3/4 cup applesauce
1 cup light brown sugar
1/2 cup white/granulate sugar
1 egg
1 tsp vanilla
1 tsp almond extract
1/2 cup unbleached white flour
1/2 cup whole wheat flour
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp baking soda
3 cups old fashioned oats
1+ cup chocolate chips*

Preheat oven to 350. Cream together water, applesauce, white and brown sugars, egg, vanilla, and almond extract. In a separate bowl, mix together whole wheat and white flours, salt, baking soda, and oats. Mix together wet and dry ingredients. Add chocolate chips. Bake for 10-13 minutes. Makes three dozen small cookies.

*Alternatives: If you like peanut butter, use 2/3 cup milk chocolate chips and 2/3 cup peanut butter chips. If you like butterscotch, use 2/3 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips and 2/3 cup butterscotch chips. If you'd rather have raisin cookies,omit the chocolate chips, add in a cup of raisins, and add a teaspoon of cinnamon.

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Mostly Cozy: Photos and Adventures

Baby is scooting and rolling around the floor. Boo and Ji are running through the sprinklers. I'm still in my jammies, listening to Baby gurgle and sing. James is fixing our vent covers since it's June and we're freezing from the air conditioning upstairs.

A few days ago, my brother-in-law told me that I might have more than four readers. That was sort of exciting news. So, sitting here in our cozy living room, I decided I should share some photos and thoughts from the last few weeks.

Halfway through May, we celebrated James's thirtieth birthday. In the spirit of Abbie Hoffman, he declared it was the Never Trust Anyone Over Thirty party.

We are fortunate to have good friends and family who are amazing artists.

Our friend Jeremy is a balloon artist extraordinaire. (He's the famous Balloon Guy.)

He also created this life-size portrait of James as the circus strong man:

If you want to see something even more impressive, watch his Balloon Bag End video.

Our friends Jen and Mark, who are both professional illustrators, came and created terrific caricatures for our guests:

Their oldest daughter decided to join in the fun.

You can see how they really captured their subjects.
James's sister Elisabeth is a fantastic henna artist (and photographer) and shared her talents.

Boo's fortune telling booth was wildly successful.

She would have her guest close his or her eyes and hold out a hand while she cracked open a fortune cookie and read the fortune. The guest was then given the fortune and the cookie. She came up with the idea herself. I'm so proud.

James decided he and I needed to man a booth for Limericks. Who doesn't want to be the subject of a bizarre, possibly insulting, poem?

James was the much more prolific limericist. I roamed around a lot, and I'm much slower. James's genius is quite unparalleled. Here's a sample:

Mark gathers and hunts at DI
With his weapon: a very sharp eye
He'll find games or a toy
From a girl or a boy
Who'll come home from their mission and cry.

Pin the tail on the pinata is all the rage this year. . .


Followed closely by pinata futbol.

 Which one is the real James?

All in all, it was a truly fantastic party.

If having a big party weren't enough for May, we thought we might as well spend some time with our family in California.

Boo and Ji spent the first day in Pawan and Mahavir's pool.

Uncle Mahavir was a good tiger with Ji and taught Boo games on his phone.

Our adventure day was at the Los Angeles Zoo. (I know it's not the San Diego Zoo, Dave, but we couldn't put our children through all those extra hours on the road.)

Mona's wedding was awesome, of course.

The newest family members were glad to meet each other.
Brothers together
Boo adores her Aunt Lizzy
Uncle Paul was as dedicated a photographer as the one they hired.
Grandma and Bapuji with Baby

Nacheter Uncle, Harjinder Uncle, Surinderpal Uncle, Kulwinder Auntie, Mohinder, Bapuji with Baby, Bacheter Uncle, Balbir Auntie. Quite a group!
Mona and KP, the bride and groom
Beautiful sisters: Sheila, Janice, Vilo, and Susan
Pawan has assured us she's kidnapping our children. (James is supposed to be photoshopped out of this picture.)
We went north from the wedding and spent time with our newest nephew.


And Grandma Vilo is always the best storyteller.
We spent Memorial Day in the magic of Muir Woods. It is a faeryland.


My little geese in the goosepen tree.

It was a fantastic two weeks. Needless to say, we were exhausted and happy by the time we returned.

We are indebted to the family who let us stay in their homes and so generously invited us into their lives.

We are looking forward to more adventures this summer. :)