Tuesday, July 19, 2011

The. Best. Chocolate. Chip. Cookies. Ever.

I would be a poor, poor citizen of the world if I neglected to pass on this fabulous chocolate chip cookie recipe. Do not be fooled by the "whole wheat" this recipe calls for--these cookies are not healthy. And they are certainly not healthy when you make them twice a week like I've been doing.

Thanks to Alison for expanding my world (and my waist-size).

This recipe was originally found in this cookbook, though I found it at this blog. 
Kayla, if you are reading this and can't find any of these ingredients where you're at in Asia let me know and I will mail them to you. They are that good.

Whole Wheat Chocolate Chip Cookies
Adapted from Good to the Grain, by Kim Boyce (with a few notes from moi)

3 cups whole wheat flour (I've also tried it with white whole wheat flour)
1 ½ tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. baking soda
1 ½ tsp. kosher salt
2 sticks (8 oz.) unsalted butter, cut into ½-inch cubes (don't soften the butter--take it straight from the fridge)
1 cup lightly packed dark brown sugar
1 cup sugar
2 large eggs
1 tsp. vanilla extract
8 oz. chocolate chips

Position racks in the upper and lower thirds of the oven, and preheat to 350°F. Line two baking sheets with parchment. (If you have no parchment, you can butter the sheets or just put down wax paper.)

Combine the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in a medium bowl, and whisk to blend.

Put the butter and sugars in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. With the mixer on low speed, mix just until the butter and sugars are blended, about 2 minutes. Scrape down the sides of the bowl with a spatula. Add the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition. Beat in the vanilla. Add the flour mixture to the bowl, and blend on low speed until the flour is just incorporated. Scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl. Add the chocolate, and mix on low speed until evenly combined. (If you have no stand mixer, you can do all of this with handheld electric beaters and/or a large, sturdy spoon.) Scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl, and then use your hands to turn and gently massage the dough, making sure all the flour is absorbed.

Scoop mounds of dough about 3 tablespoons in size onto the baking sheets, leaving about 3 inches between each cookie. (Yes, 3 tablespoons. They will look huge.)

Bake the cookies for 16 to 20 minutes, rotating the sheets halfway through, until the cookies are evenly browned. Transfer the cookies, still on parchment, to a rack to cool. Repeat with remaining dough. (Mine are done at 16 minutes on the dot--though if I skimp and make them smaller than 3 T they are done sooner)

Yield: about 20 cookies

Sunday, July 17, 2011

With Friends Like These

Sam spoke at an early age as evidenced in this clip below:

However, I don't think I've ever been more proud of his verbal skills than when I witnessed this moment:

Atta boy!

Saturday, July 16, 2011

How NOT to Finish a Dissertation

I'm currently sitting in a coffee shop about 60 miles from home. John offered to stay home with the kids for 24-hours while I went away on a writing retreat. Last night I drove to a beautiful hotel and slept in a king-sized bed all by myself. Now I'm trying to finish up chapter 3 of my dissertation before heading home.

John suggested I take a 24-hour getaway once a month until my dissertation is finished. At this rate I'll never be done.  Wink, wink.

Friday, July 15, 2011

The Time My Little Brother Got Hitched

My little brother got married last weekend. I had the priviledge of being the unofficial photographer. I always enjoy taking pictures. Especially when I've borrowed a camera that costs three times the amount of my wedding dress.

It was a beautiful wedding with ideal weather for the outdoor rehearsal dinner and wedding reception. I absolutely adore my new sister-in-law and am thrilled she's joined our family. I'm not including TOO many pics of the couple-of-the-hour because I want Paul to be able to share what he wants in his own way. Love you, Paul and Erin!
The stud-ly groom checking out his corn hole toss. I mean come on, what's a rehearsal dinner without a little corn hole?
Ella showing off the tooth that FINALLY came out. I may or may not have bribed her with cash to just yank that sucker out.
Various young gentlemen in between courses.
Mom and Dad--Happy 39th anniversary, you two!

The rehearsal dinner was held in my parent's back yard which looks a bit like the Garden of Eden. And by "a bit" I mean a lot.
Paul Sr. and Doris Jane Hontz--all the way from So Cal.

Who knew hymnals could be so exciting?
Completely candid. No posing. Just boys being boys and playing in perfect symmetry.

The happy couple.
I was drooling over Erin's hair all night.
Isn't she gorgeous?
Okay, so maybe not ALL eyes were on the bride and groom.
Jude the Dude.
Flower girl extrordinare...and his daughter Zoe.
If you know this couple, you need no caption.
Pops and Ella dancing.
And one more, just to prove I was there...and didn't have boogers.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Just Begging to be Quoted

Yesterday Sam announced that he liked things "horny and leggy". Granted he was talking about his favorite zoo animals, but come on.

Saturday, July 09, 2011

First Words

Clara: "Mamamamama."

Me: "Sam! Clara just said her first word!"

Sam: (With great excitement) "I think she said 'Diego'!"

Saturday, July 02, 2011

Baby Steps and Gila Monsters

Like many of you, we've created sticker reward charts for Sam. Unlike many of you, most of these charts remain barren month after month after month. Last March I was talking with my counselor about Sam's sleep issues (yes, it drove me to counseling, antidepressants, you name it. If this continues much longer I will look into shock therapy). My wonderful counselor made the observation that it might be wise to give Sam a small goal that he actually might be able to accomplish and install some confidence in the young fellow.

So a few weeks ago I made a sticker chart. Sam would get a sticker if he went to bed without fussing and stayed in his room all night long until 7 am. This chart had three columns. Only three columns and yet it took until this week to earn all three of those stickers (now lest you think I got three full nights of sleep, Dear Reader, you should know my children have been conspiring behind my back and my sweet little sleeper of a seven-month-old managed to get the kind of ear infection that needs middle of the night soothing). I wish I could snap a picture of the kid when he comes running into our room yelling, "It's seven! It's seven!" You would think he had just scaled the Matterhorn (and actually, we celebrate as if he had).

The reward was a trip to the zoo. Sam had been talking about this trip all week--even approaching perfect strangers to announce that he got to go to the zoo (he also told one of these strangers that she had weeds in her yard--that's one way to warm the hearts of your new neighbors, let me tell you).

And so that's how we ended up at the Fort Wayne Children's Zoo on the hottest day of the year. We walked around in 95 degree weather, guzzling water and pouring bottles over our kid's heads. It was actually a lot of fun as you can see below:

 I saw this face a lot today.
 Gila Monster fun
 Notice the wet head.
 I can't even express how much joy this little one brings me!
 Enough said.
 He even has the red eyes of a baby joey.
 It took everything I had to convince Sam to keep the undies on.

Friday, July 01, 2011

The Time I Got a Job

Friends, I am thrilled to share that beginning fall of 2012 I will join the religion faculty at Indiana Wesleyan University teaching youth ministry courses in the School of Theology and Ministry. I interviewed and was offered the job at the end of March but for various reasons the time wasn't quite right to go public.

The religion faculty has grown significantly since I was a student at IWU and yet I am grateful to be able to report that they still fiercely love one another (which, to be perfectly honest, was one of my biggest pulls to IWU...that and the fact that I now live a mile away).

I really do love this school.