Sunday, March 14, 2010

Stress Reliever

I have been having a hard time the last week or so.  We have been working through some very heavy stuff around here and it has left me feeling sad and stressed out and at times a little bit gloom and doomish.  As I have written here before, I tend to bottle things up inside until they burst out of me like an explosion. Someone close to me suggested I try to find things to do that will help me deal with some of this stress in an appropriate way so I don't bottle it up like that.  The first thing I did was start exercising again.  This has helped me immensely.  I have walked every day for the last 4 days and I intend to continue.  The physical release of some of those emotions has been cathartic.

The other way I (used to) deal with stress was to be creative.  Scrapbooking, making cards or frames or otherwise using my hands in some way. I haven't been doing much of that lately.

I wanted to make something for some people who have helped us in the last couple of months but I didn't want to spend a lot of money.  Everything I came up with I realized I needed one or more supplies that I was out of.

Then I was cleaning out the freezer and I found a bag of white sugar(we had an ant problem a month or so ago), and a bag of chocolate chips.  A quick search of the fridge and pantry revealed that I had the ingredients to make a batch(or ten)  of cookies.

That's it!(I thought to myself)  Cookies it is.

Now baking probably seems like a perfectly normal thing for most people to do.

It's not normal for me. To begin with, I hate to bake.  Secondly, I don't even particularly  like chocolate chip cookies.  Before you think I'm a freak for not liking chocolate chip cookies, it has something to do with hormones.  After  I had my hysterectomy I couldn't eat chocolate.  I mean I can eat it.  But I just don't enjoy it like I used to and I can only eat it in small amounts or I feel sick to my stomach.  I can't explain it.  It just is.

O.K. that does make me sound like a freak.  I swear I'm not.  :)

Anyway, back to the baking.

 I started some cookies on Friday night.  My first 2 batches I made off of the recipe on the back of the T ol l  h o u s e   bag.

These turned out so-so.  They tasted good, but didn't have the look or feel I was going for.  I wanted them to be like a chocolate chip cookie you buy at the bakery.

I packaged them up and gave them away on Saturday anyway :)

So yesterday I went on the internet searching for the best chocolate chip cookie recipe.

I found a whole bunch and started reading the reviews on each recipe.  After reading twenty a few, I decided on one and hit the kitchen again  to try them out.

Today I made 6 dozen of them.  And they are so much better than the last batches.

As I was baking I noticed something.  I started to feel more relaxed.  Less stressed out.  The more I felt relaxed and less stressed out, the more I started to actually enjoy it.

There was something about measuring out the ingredients and  pouring them into the bowl, mixing the ingredients by hand(I don't have an electric mixer), and lining them up in neat little rows on the cookie sheets that made me start to feel so much better. Like I was in control of something when I feel out of control in so many other parts of my life right now.

It was very therapeutic.

So therapeutic in fact, that I made 6 more dozen cookies.

That brings the total up to 11 dozen cookies people.  We're pretty much drowning in chocolate chip cookies over here.  I don't eat them, so this is a problem.  Because Joe does eat them.  So I have to get them out of the house.

They are being packaged up to be dropped off at different places tomorrow.  I hope they bring a fraction of the joy to the recipients that they did to me when I made them.

I'm going to have to find another way to relieve stress though  :)


If you could send some good thoughts our way regarding the gloom and doom stuff, I would appreciate it.


And also, anyone want some cookies?




I had a couple requests on FB for the recipe, so here it is. I got it off of AllRecipes.com.  I read all of the reviews and used a few suggestions from each one.  They really turned out yummy!

I doubled my recipe.

Ingredients
    •    2 cups all-purpose flour
    •    1/2 teaspoon baking soda
    •    1/2 teaspoon salt
    •    3/4 cup unsalted butter, melted
    •    1 cup packed brown sugar
    •    1/2 cup white sugar
    •    1 tablespoon vanilla extract
    •    1 egg
    •    1 egg yolk
    •    2 cups semisweet chocolate chips
Directions
    •    Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F (165 degrees C). Grease cookie sheets or line with parchment paper.
    •    Sift together the flour, baking soda and salt; set aside.
    •    In a medium bowl, cream together the melted butter, brown sugar and white sugar until well blended. Beat in the vanilla, egg, and egg yolk until light and creamy. Mix in the sifted ingredients until just blended. Stir in the chocolate chips by hand using a wooden spoon.
    •    Refrigerate dough until chilled. Drop cookie dough 1/4 cup at a time onto the prepared cookie sheets. Cookies should be about 3 inches apart.
    •    Bake for 15 to 17 minutes in the preheated oven, or until the edges are lightly toasted. Cool on baking sheets for a few minutes before transferring to wire racks to cool completely. 

I have found that these should be taken out when the edges are brown but the middles look not quite done.  Let them cool for a few minutes on the cookie sheet until they set.

9 comments:

Debz said...

Sounds yummy! Yes it is really stress free when you are concentrating on something else, I wholeheartidly agree! Until you have to clean up the mess it makes. LOL.

Jenna said...

So my question is, how do they taste? Does Joe like them better than toll house or is it just fun for you to make. I am thinking about going in my kitchen and making some to help keep me awake.. but I love chocolate chip cookies!

Also, the ones I see here did you make them 1/4c big or did you do spoonfuls?

Michelle (att) said...

Hey Jenna-They are so good. Much better than the Tollhouse ones. Joe loved them both though. He's not picky.

The first couple batches I used the 1/4 C and made them big. The last few batches I made them smaller like the ones in the picture.

I actually put the dough in my hand and rolled it a little(this is made easier by the fact that the dough was chilled) it make it round before I out them on the sheets.

M3 said...

Sending good thoughts, and a big kiss, mwah!!

You have the biggest heart of anyone I know. Did you know that? Well it's true.

The Oesch Chronicles said...

I love to bake! I find it soothes me as well. I love seeing something turn out well and that it ends up being enjoyed by many!

wzgirl said...

Maybe you could donate them to a local shelter for women and kids or to the church day care center? Or to a good friend's Mother's nursing home...

I think that the process of making anything is very therapeutic. Creating has saved my life during this waiting process. xoxo

2china4S said...

Michelle,

Funny, I recently posted about cooking and how it is not my thing, but the mindless chopping is relaxing. Rote tasks are the best, that is why SS is so Zen in the kitchen and when she is playing with her beans.

Like you I am not a chocolate chip or chocolate person. I love snickerdoodles. But if we lived closer, both P and SS would have loved to take a dozen off your hands.

Hope things are much better now. I'm only a phone call or e-mail away, anytime, OK?

M3 is right, you have a huge heart. :)

Jenna said...

I just heard the news that 23,000 teachers were laid off in California today. I thought of you guys and how the economy is already so bad... You guys are in my thoughts and prayers. I hate that it just hasn't gotten better yet.

Courtney said...

Those look really good! I may have to make some. Chocolate Chip are my husband's favorite cookie and we are always looking for the "best" recipe.
Sorry things aren't going so well for you. I wish I had words of wisdom, but I don't. Keep baking!

Courtney B.