Behold, the Christmas Cookie

I wish I could show you delightful Christmas pictures of my family, and the wonderful chicken dinner my mother prepares for us each year. But the sad truth is that I can't: for in the end, we didn't go.

A storm that arrived on Christmas eve gave us a few inches of snow. It wasn't an amazing amount, but then the winds showed up and went to work on it. When I awoke on Christmas morning, the winds were amazing, rattling like a freight train. There was talk of whiteouts, and of (my personal least-favorite sneaky-weather option) black ice.

My husband and I had already consulted the day before, when we'd seen the Christmas weather forecast. It's just shy of a 90-minute drive to my parents' house, and we'd already decided that if it snowed, there was a good chance we would not travel on this day.

So we called my parents and my oldest sister on Sunday and discussed a Plan B; I'd already sent an email to my family saying things looked iffy. You can fuss and carry on all you want, but you can't control the weather.

The thought of sliding down the Seven Mountains hill (route 322) in any of our three cars, battling the trucks, did not sound good. Even worse was the thought of traversing the mountain again, uphill in the dark, for our return trip, as whatever slop that was on the roads began to freeze again at night.

We decided to go with Plan B, which would be to stay home on Christmas, and then make the trip to visit family on Tuesday, my little sister's birthday (also known as "Julie Day"). The usual lunch meal on Julie Day is leftovers: chicken and waffles, a personal favorite.

So my husband and I were home all day on Christmas. I had planned to make cookies and finish wrapping gifts on Sunday. But, suspecting we might stay home, I saved a couple of those tasks for Monday instead.

I sorted the gift bags, I wrapped the additional gifts, I sat under a blanket with the cat. And we ate: apple pancakes and bacon for breakfast, leftover chicken soup for lunch, and our first-ever Christmas spaghetti meal (which was delicious, I might add) for dinner.

And in between all of that, I made chocolate chip cookies. Perhaps my first-ever Christmas cookie actually made ON Christmas! The standard Nestle Toll House kind, with semi-sweet chips. I'll include two separate links to the same recipe here (just in case one of them doesn't work for you): link 1, and link 2.

I stick pretty much to the recipe, except that I usually pull my butter out of the freezer and melt it to liquid in a Pyrex cup just before making the cookies. I use dark brown sugar. I only use about a half-teaspoon of salt, not a full one. I don't add nuts. I add way too many chips! (So sue me!)

And here's a baking secret: for ultra-soft cookies, pull them out of the oven at the very edge of "done-ness." That is to say, when they are still all puffed up in the oven and haven't sunk back down yet. In my oven, that happens at just a bit over nine minutes of baking.

Let the cookies sit on the cookie sheet to sink down and firm up for five minutes before trying to remove them. Voila! The cookie you see above. Look at the middle - it's GOOEY when you bite it, you can tell just by looking!

You may not be surprised that there was *ahem* an "incident" with the cookies. Or rather, ONE cookie. I had them cooling on tea towels on the kitchen table, when suddenly a cookie fell to the floor!

We are unsure whether gravity pulled it down, or whether it was a Tabby-Paw that did it. Yes, I found the cat sniffing around that cookie! None of this deterred me from wiping that cookie off and eating it. (A full and honest report: it was swell!)

So here it is: the morning after Christmas, as I type these words. We are up and about and getting ready to take our showers and hop into the car to visit my family. The sun is out. The road is clear. The gifts are wrapped, the cookies are made, and we're ready to celebrate Christmas and Julie Day too!

So here's wishing you a happy Christmas! Oh, and ALWAYS have a plan B! And here's a song for a Christmas cookie: U2, with Sweetest Thing.

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