Cadel is 7 months old now (!). And since he was born, the question I’ve been asked more than any other is, “Are you going back to work?” The matter of the new mom and the career remains a hot issue, particularly, it seems, in recent years when data from multiple studies showed that since the women’s liberation movement in the late ’60s/early ’70s, women have reported an ever-declining level of happiness while, for the same time period, men have experienced the inverse (interested? here’s an article for you). Opinions abound on this unexpected trend: I’ve heard it said that the choices available to women nowadays are themselves a burden; that feminism has benefited men more than women; that the current climate in the working world is still incompatible with motherhood, a sentiment detailed in a well-written piece published in the Atlantic last year entitled “Why Women Still Can’t Have it All.”
I’m no expert, but in my short time as a mom in this dizzyingly busy, cell phone-tablet-computer-toting-world-at-your-fingertips-world, having it all is about the last thing I want. What I desire most now is simplicity. And nothing seems more simple to me than to care for this amazing little creature who is entirely dependent on me for his every need, whose every calorie consumed up to this point has come from my very body, no less! So for now, I’ve happily thrown in the towel on my former (much-loved, chocolate-covered) job and accepted a part-part-part time position doing some writing and recipe development for the same company. For the majority of my waking hours (ok let’s be honest, some nights it’s the majority of my sleeping hours as well), I am–painstakingly, exhaustedly, wholeheartedly–working on being a mom and making our place, regardless of the challenges this may pose to me as a mother looking to get back into the workforce in the years to come. This time at home is a luxury not all mothers can afford, especially with the shameful condition of maternity leave in our country, and I feel fortunate to be attached to my baby rather than to my breast pump.
Home life with a baby is an alternate universe that was a mystery to me just a year ago–a place where people do not get into their cars and sit in traffic desperately clutching their coffee mugs first thing in the morning, where people go shopping and do laundry and even take walks outside in the middle of the day, where staring at a bunch of flowers on the kitchen table is a fascinating time to spend half an hour. It’s a brave new world, more complex and beautiful and messy than I could have imagined.
Every homemaker needs a solid cookie recipe. Ideally, she/he will have more than one–my own expert mom has probably a dozen up her sleeve–but for beginners like me, one good one will suffice (especially since the cookies for play dates at this age are just for the moms).
Chewy, satisfying, everything good cookies
1C whole wheat pastry flour*
1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
1/3 C packed dark brown or light brown sugar
1/3 C granulated sugar
1 stick (8T) unsalted butter, melted (OR, use 4T butter + 4T coconut oil)
1 egg (+ optional addition of one egg yolk for slightly thicker cookies)
1/2 tsp. pure vanilla extract
1/2 C unsweetened shredded coconut
~1/2 C chocolate chunks, chopped from a good quality bar (I like to use Theo 70% dark)
~1/3 C raisins or dried cranberries
~1/3 C chopped walnuts or pecans
Preheat oven to 350F. In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, and salt. In a separate bowl, whisk together the sugar, butter, egg, and vanilla extract. Pour this mixture into the bowl of flour and stir to fully combine. Add the coconut, chocolate, raisins, and nuts, and gently stir with a spoon (or your hands) to evenly distribute the ingredients. (At this point the dough may be refrigerated for up to several days). Scoop large spoonfuls out onto a parchment-lined baking sheet and bake for 12-15 minutes, depending on how big you’ve made them. They’re done when they edges are golden brown; don’t overbake or they will be crispy rather than chewy. Makes about 20.
*you can substitute white pastry flour; you could also use all-purpose flour, but the cookies will be firmer and will spread less