As a young teen, I learned to make chocolate chip cookies–Tollhouse of course–in the kitchen with my mother. We measured the ingredients into a plastic bowl and used a wooden spoon to mix them together, followed by (at least on my part) several quick and secretive finger swipes to taste. My mother always said baking cookies was her therapy, and as I grew older, I adopted the same coping strategy. I’m certain that had nothing to do with an expanding waistline as life became more complicated.
One of my wedding presents was a KitchenAid mixer, and I joyfully began using it to make my beloved cookies. I couldn’t believe how easy it was to whip up a batch when the mechanical arm was doing the heavy stirring–no more tired biceps or aching fingers! And it was so much faster, albeit a little noisy. Such an efficient way to get through that therapy and on to the reward! So for the past 18 years, the mixer has sped me through the process, requiring me to do nothing but add the ingredients. Until today.
Today I decided to do it the “old fashioned” way, with a bowl and a trusty wooden spoon. And I had my first real cookie therapy in almost two decades. There was just something about putting forth the physical effort to cream the butter and sugar, to whip in the eggs and vanilla, and really mix up the flour, baking soda, and salt as the batter became thicker and more resistant. I was participating in this, being present in the moment, paying full attention to what I was doing. If it took longer, I didn’t notice. And it was so quiet without the noisy whirring of the machine!
While I was licking the dough from fingers that had just filled a baking sheet, I had a moment of self awareness: the feelings of angst that had spurred the need for cookies were gone. I was no longer replaying my son’s tantrum from last night, or my daughter’s attitude this morning. My mind felt more focused (after all, I had just been carefully checking for brown sugar lumps), and my irritability was gone. A couple of finished cookies later, and I’m sitting at the computer, happily sharing my joy at rediscovering cookie therapy the way it was meant to be.