I started baking chocolate chip cookies for my husband two to three times a week in the past month or so. My husband loves homemade chocolate chip cookies. In the past few years, he eats less and less things, shows very little interest in eating at all and has developed very bizarre attitudes on many foods. He has normal pressure hydrocephalus, which has caused substantial short-term memory loss and he often gets very confused. He also walks with an extreme side-to-side gait. Before he was diagnosed, he kept telling me that whatever I was using to clean the carpets in the house was making his feet stick to the floor. It took a long time to get an accurate diagnosis and then he had surgery in 2012 to implant a cranial shunt.
Keeping my husband eating has become a challenge, that I tackle by trying to find things he will eat. A few years ago, when I was still working full-time at Wal-Mart, he had pretty much stopped eating. His weight was dropping fast, so I became alarmed and began trying to find ways, that did not involve nagging. I kept buying snacks and things I thought he would like and setting them on the table by his chair in the sun room, where he sits during the day, watching TV. I also stopped nagging him about eating things that he said he doesn’t like now. It’s very strange how my husband who used to eat just about anything, now has an ever-diminishing list of foods he will eat. I also tried Ensure and supplementals to try to improve his nutritional intake. That was a lost cause, because he said, “I am not drinking that shit!” End of that conversation, but he does love Breyers vanilla fudge twirl ice cream with Hershey’s syrup on top. He wants it in a Corelleware bowl, which holds about 5 scoops of ice cream – so 5 scoops is what I give him. And he always eats all of it. It may not be Ensure, but at this point, at least it is calories.
He does eat a 3 egg ham and cheese omelet with toast and V-8 juice every morning, so I make that for him every day too. He never ate strawberry jam since I have known him (since 1980), but a few years ago he asked me why I hadn’t put the Smuckers strawberry jam on the table for his toast. I hadn’t bought Smuckers strawberry jam for years, like when our kids were still at home and back then, he never ate it. I had some sugar-free Polaners strawberry preserves, which I use since I was diagnosed with diabetes about a decade ago, so I gave him that. He told me that he wanted Smuckers strawberry jam. So, I bought some and he eats it everyday on his toast now. Lunch and dinner have devolved in much the same way.
A few months ago, he stopped eating store-bought cookies and Debbie cakes. At Christmas I baked some peanut butter cookies and chocolate chip cookies. My husband ate a lot of them and then a few days after those were gone, he asked me when I was going to make more chocolate chip cookies, thus my cookie-baking routine has become situation-normal here. I used to love baking when my kids were young or when I used to bake cookies and cakes for my husband’s soldiers. And now I am finding that instead of being an onerous chore – I actually enjoy baking one single batch of chocolate chip cookies every few days for my husband. It doesn’t take very long to make a single batch of cookies.
I have slightly altered the chocolate chip cookie recipe on the back of the bag. In southeast GA the humidity greatly impacts baking results, so instead of 1 cup of butter, I use a 1/2 cup real butter and 1/2 cup of vegetable shortening. In addition to the salt and baking soda, I add 1 tsp. of baking powder, which helps the cookies rise a bit more and spread out less. I had always used Nestlés semi-sweet chocolate chips, but I tried Walmart’s Great Value chocolate chips, which were only $3.68 for a 24 oz bag in my local Walmart ($3.88 at Walmart Online) , which makes TWO single batches of cookies. The Nestlé 24 oz bag is $4.98 at Walmart Online.
Another tip on cookie-baking is regardless what type of cookie sheets you use – always use parchment paper on your cookie sheets. Your cookies will bake without burning, they won’t ever stick to the cookie sheet and on top of that, clean-up is a breeze. You just roll up the parchment paper and toss it in the trash, while washing your cookie sheets never involves scrubbing off baked on or burned on cookie dough. Parchment paper should become your best friend when it comes to baking cookies.
Long ago, I loved baking all sorts of stuff besides cookies – cakes, pies, loved baking homemade cheesecake in my springform pan, and I even loved baking different types of bread. My happiest kitchen memories with my family besides an endless stream of craft and cooking projects with my kids, were definitely cooking and baking for my family. When my younger son was just a toddler, I, for some reason found some casserole recipe on the side of a macaroni box, with ham, spinach, cheese and macaroni in the ingredient list, an inspiration… Really, I thought little children would love ham and spinach, LOL. I had a lot of leftover Easter ham, so I happily made this casserole, totally confident my young children would love this.
My oldest daughter, already in elementary school, and my older son, weren’t shy about pronouncing this casserole, “disgusting” and “what were you thinking”. My husband just smiled and said, “ham and spinach?” And he raised his eyebrows, which said it all, on his assessment of this meal. Our younger son, was a shy and very polite little boy. He dutifully sat on his booster seat and spent more time moving the food around his plate than eating. Finally, I asked him what he thought about this casserole, since he was the only one, besides our youngest daughter, who was still a baby, who hadn’t voiced an opinion. He hesitantly said, “Mom, it’s really macaroni misery. We all started laughing. I told him if he ate two small bites, he could go play and never have to eat, “Macaroni Misery” again.
This meander down memory lane made me think of my favorite bakeware and actually, I think some pie plates I have are my favorites. My youngest sister gave me a lovely Longaberger pie plate many years ago. It’s so pretty that I have never used it yet, because I don’t want it to accidentally get chipped.
Several years ago, when I was a zone manager at Walmart, Housewares received the most gorgeous, CorningWare etch pie plates with the Fall/Christmas seasonal merchandise. Many times while walking the sales floor, I would stop and admire these pie plates for a few seconds.
One day the housewares department manager saw me holding one of those pie plates again, gazing longingly at it, as I was zoning up that area. She came over to me and asked me why I was so in love with those plain white pie plates. I hadn’t realized she had noticed my secret passion for these PERFECT pie plates. I tried to explain it to her, but by the confused look on her face, I didn’t think she understood.
Not long after that conversation, that housewares department manager and the hardware department manager came up to me and handed me a gift bag with a Christmas present in it for me. They bought me TWO of those PERFECT pie plates. I almost burst into tear of joy. I only use these special pie plates for special occasions. I have used one to make a cauliflower side dish that I have made at holiday meals in recent years.
They are perfect pie plates, right???
Answer carefully, ROFL.
Have a nice day