This week, it’s Valentine’s Day. Yeah. Hearts and flowers and all that cheesy sentimental stuff, right?
In the theatrical world, this typically means that, if you’re single, you join the stage crew by wearing all black all day in observation of SAD – i.e., Singles Awareness Day. At least, that’s how things were in the early 1990’s when I was in college. Things may have changed by now, but needless to say, I stuck with tradition and was a proud black wearer for many years, until I (happily and thankfully) met my partner and love of my life, Jake, in 2010 and my black Valentine’s Days were sentimentally over.
Even when I wore black, I still showed my love and appreciation for others in life through my baking. I realized it as a gift I had that was meant to be shared and, hell, I was always thankful for any opportunity to get into my kitchen and just bake like a crazy person.
Valentine’s Day typically finds me making plates of various cookies of all shapes, tastes, and sizes… much like many folks do at Christmas time. I like that I reserve my cookie giving to a different holiday than Christmas; I feel it makes it a little more memorable and presents an element of surprise to the recipients. Plus, who isn’t cheered up by a cookie on the one day of the year that can – let’s face it – make you feel a bit down in the dumps if you are all by your lonesome? (I even made Martha Stewart’s popular “Broken Heart” Spiced Chocolate Cookies, from The Martha Stewart Cookbook, for those who revel in their single-dom.)
If Valentine’s Day falls on a weekday, my co-workers are usually the recipients of my treats, though I typically make so many that there is overflow to family and various local friends.
This year, I was remiss in making my usual large plate of cookies. Time just caught up to me. I had part of a key lime-coconut pie in my fridge, but… well, a partially eaten pie just wouldn’t do. Instead, I brought in to work some delicious peanut butter-chocolate chip oatmeal cookies (recipe courtesy of the fabulous Dorie Greenspan, from her book, Baking: From My Home to Yours) and white chocolate chai cookies (recipe courtesy of Little Flower Baking, by Christine Moore): both of them from my freezer.
Yes, I admit it. I pulled them out of my freezer as I hastily beat it out the door. And yet, when I announced via a staff-wide email that there were cookies to be had in the kitchen, I could almost feel the huge smiles in the “thank you so much!” responses I received.
You see? Even from a plastic-wrapped up bundle in the freezer, cookies can bring joy to someone’s day.
My grandmother was pretty transparent that when she baked, she baked because she loved the people she baked for. She showed her love and appreciation for them through the sweet treats she put her time, energy, and care into – just for them. That sentiment is truly at the heart of why I bake myself. She taught me a valuable lesson.
At heart, this silly day isn’t about whether you are with someone or not. And we shouldn’t need just one day (okay, 2 if you live in the midwest – there is also “Sweetest Day” in October) to demonstrate your love for others. Use the gifts you have. Use them in a big way. Share the rewards you reap from using your gift with others. And share them each and every day of the year. We’re all part of this great big universe and we all have something to contribute to one another. It doesn’t need to be baking cookies; I know you’re not all bakers like me. I feel, too, that I share my love for others when I am performing for them onstage, but I know not everyone is a performer. What do you love to do? It’s about discovering your talents and your gifts and using them, sharing them. You’re a wonderful, talented, unique, and beautiful person… and you have something to give, something to show your love. Give it. And do it in a big way, because we all need you.
Wishing you all – couples and singles alike – much love, joy, peace, and comfort this Valentine’s Day and always. Shed the black – it’s time to enjoy a cookie… or two!
into the kitchen
A NOTE ON SHARING RECIPES: For copyright purposes, I do not like to directly post the recipe instructions on my blog. I want to pay respect to the original author(s) of the recipes. If the recipe is not my own, I will post the (non-copyrighted) ingredient list for you and then likely direct you to a fellow food blogger who has bravely done the work of adapting the instructions to make them their own. Preferably, and if I can locate it online, I will post a link to the original recipe from the original author/recipe creator.
If you have any questions about the process along the way, please contact me via my Contact page and I am happy to assist. Thank you!
peanut butter-chocolate chip/chunk oatmeal cookies
Recipe from Dorie Greenspan, Baking: From My Home to Yours
These are hearty, tasty, no-nonsense peanut butter-chocolate chip cookies. The oats give them a great, toasty chew… and don’t skip on the little bit of cinnamon in these; it adds a unique flavor component. If you scoop these according to the recipe, you will get several; I prefer to scoop them on the larger side, which will yield less. I also used half milk chocolate chips, half bittersweet.
To make, you will need the following ingredients:
- 3 cups old-fashioned oats
- 1 cup all-purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
- 1 cup peanut butter (chunky or smooth, but not natural)
- 1 cup sugar
- 1 cup packed light brown sugar
- 2 large eggs
- 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- 9 ounces bittersweet chocolate, chopped into chunks, or 1-1/2 cups chocolate chips
- 1/4 to 1/2 cup chopped peanuts (salted or unsalted; optional)
For directions, please go here (credit/thank you to fellow blogger, Laurel, at Wanna Come With?).
white chocolate chai cookies
Recipe from Christine Moore, Little Flower Baking
When I had my baking business, I was looking for cookies to put on the menu that were fabulously flavored and unique, yet still relatively easy to toss together. These fit the bill and, while I closed my business before they made it onto a regular menu, I have a feeling I will nonetheless be making them quite often. The creamy white chocolate paired up against the slight heat of the chai spices makes these cookies irresistible.
To make these cookies (and trust me, you will want to, because they are AMAZINGLY GOOD), you will need the following ingredients:
- 1 cup (228g) unsalted butter, softened
- 1 cup (213g) golden brown sugar, packed
- 1 cup (200g) granulated sugar
- 2 large eggs, room temperature
- 1½ teaspoons vanilla extract
- 3½ cups + 2 tablespoons (445g) all-purpose flour
- 1½ teaspoons baking soda
- ½ teaspoon sea salt
- 1 teaspoon ground cardamom
- ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
- ½ teaspoon ground ginger
- ¼ teaspoon ground allspice
- 2 cups (340 grams) white chocolate, chopped
For directions, please go here (credit/thank you to fellow bloggers, Tiffany and Andrew, of Thyme of Taste).