A list of things I meant to accomplish during lockdown: Start running again. Learn one word of Spanish every day. Rise at 6 am every morning to journal at least three handwritten pages followed by twenty minutes of yoga followed by glass of room temperature water with a squirt of lemon followed by solitary piece of fruit for breakfast. Marie Kondo the house, do at least one load of laundry a day, clean the windows, dust all the baseboards, design a meal plan for peaceful family suppers using creative/nutritious/low-waste recipes even my 4-year-old who only eats bread, multi-grain cheerios and chicken ton katsu from Sun Sushi will enjoy. No reading social media or news during the week, fifteen minutes on Saturday and Sunday only. Get outside every day! Read at least one book a week. Catch up on all those arty indy films that have been on my list for years. Go dry for one month, I mean I’m not hanging out with anyone, how hard can it be?
Pretty fucking hard, it turns out.
An updated list of things that actually happened during lockdown: Two shots of espresso with cream and sugar every morning. Obsessive checking of Twitter-Facebook-Instagram-news on phone while kid watches two hours of kinda age-inappropriate cartoons. Bathrobe till 2 pm. Let 4-year-old eat toast most nights for supper in order to avoid rage at lovingly prepared home cooked meals. Mom and Dad eat takeout in front of Shark Tank for the third time in a week. Bottle of wine now lasts two nights instead of pre-pandemic three. I can’t fit into any of my pants.
Ok, ok so there were some accomplishments I’m proud of. Trimmed Jude’s bangs without making him look like an early-sixties Beatle. Discovered the perfect secret beach for a fire and a boil up. Finally proofread the manuscript of that novel I’ve been writing for a hundred years. Hiked parts of the East Coast Trail I’ve never set foot on. Realized how much I’ve been neglecting that jar of mango chutney in my fridge and how good it is slathered on a grilled cheese. And made the most incredible batch of cookies out of whatever was in my baking cupboard. Those last two accomplishments being the main reason I can’t fit into any of my clothes. Except that one old maternity t-shirt.
Baking is a science so they say. Me, I’m like yeeeeah ok but not really for cookies. Definitely for soufflés, pastry, and sourdough (ok, ok, we get it GOOD FOR YOU), but with cookies you can get away with a bit more. I’ve been making these “Everything Cookies” for years, taking stuff out, adding stuff in, subbing in whatever, and they’ve been so good every time, even after coming out of my too-hot oven that can only bake everything at 400° despite being set at 150. This recipe just happens to be what worked out for me on this particular day. Brown butter is my latest pandemobsession so I always have some around now (see above re: maternity t-shirt). It ups the toasty, caramel-y flavour in a way that plain butter can’t. I had an extra egg yolk in the fridge, leftover from using an egg white wash for a homemade baguette, and the cookies turned out crispy on the edges and soft and chewy in the middle. But hey, now’s not the time to be picky. If the dough tastes good on the end of a spoon, chances are the cookies will be fine out of the oven. No time to brown butter and let it re-harden? Who cares, use regular. No unsalted butter? Big who cares, I always use salted anyway, even though that’s some kind of baking crime, because that’s what my mom and nan used, it’s what I grew up on, and hey guess what, it was actually margarine. No extra egg yolk, fine. Smooth, light, crunchy or natural peanut butter, fine. Quick-cook or old fashioned oats, fine. Not a coconut fan, leave it out, fine fine fine. Chocolate chips, mini eggs, chopped up peanut butter cups, or a mixture of all three work out great. If you want to sub in raisins…well. I mean, go for it, but don’t be afraid to reach out for help. Your friends are there for you. On Zoom, at least.
Brown Butter Pandemicookies
1/2 cup softened brown butter (left to re-harden after melting)
1/2 cup natural peanut butter
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 egg plus 1 egg yolk
1 tsp vanilla
3/4 cup flour
3/4 cup oats
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp fine sea salt (omit or halve if using salted butter)
1 1/4 cup mini eggs
1/2 cup coconut
Preheat oven to 350°F. Cream together butter, peanut butter, and sugars. Mix in egg, extra yolk, and vanilla. Add flour, oats, soda and salt (if using) and mix till combined. Stir in mini eggs and coconut. Drop heaping teaspoonfuls onto a parchment papered or a lightly greased cookie sheet, pressing the batter down slightly with the spoon. Leave some space between cookies, they’ll spread a bit during baking. Bake for 10-12 minutes.
Whether you’re running, eating, reading, baking, cartoon-bingeing, coffee-drinking, wine-imbibing, hiking, movie-watching, crying, laughing, writing the next great novel, or creating the next great ass-indentation in your couch, I hope it’s bringing you joy, and I hope you are all safe and sound. We’re getting there, chickens. xo