A Reasonable Facsimile

11 06 2009

My mom is a great baker.

She doesn’t do a lot of fancy stuff (unless you count cream wafers), but everything she makes is wonderful. Bread, rolls (plain, orange, and cinnamon), pies, and cookies. Yum. The first time I tasted a Mrs. Fields’ cookie I thought, “Huh. What’s all the fuss? Mom’s cookies are better than this.”

When my cousins were going to college, they would come up to our house and bring their friends. A few of them were amazed that, whenever they’d come, my parents would ply food on them as if they were starving. (You remember college. Ramen noodles and all things microwavable. Maybe they were starving.) One of my cousin’s friends dubbed the big yellow Tupperware canister “The Magic Cookie Jar”, because it seemed to be perpetually filled with cookies, much like Elijah’s unfailing cruse of oil.

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They don’t sell Magic Cookie Jars anymore. Believe me, I’ve tried–attending Tupperware parties I’d much rather not be at in the off chance they have brought them back. No luck. They can, however, sometimes be found at Goodwill. (This story demonstrates why, being distracted, the big one in the back there somehow got bought despite having a huge crack in the bottom. No magic without the airtight seal–remember that! I keep it for looks.) I quickly found that simply owning the container did not make magic. Nor did having the airtight seal (am I contradicting myself here?). It’s two part magic: the seal has to be good, but the cookie needs to be good in the first place. The Jar is not so magical that you can put crummy cookies in it and have them come out Mrs. Fields’-worthy.

Much to my dismay, I was never able to master The Cookie. The one that was, for all intents and purposes, locally famous: Chocolate Chip. I remember one time at a bake sale, a former neighbor saw me with The Magic Cookie Jar (before it was named such) and asked, “Those your mother’s cookies, Wendy?” At my assent, he bought the entire thing. The whole container! Another time, my mom made some cookies to help feed the friends when a neighbor left on his mission. One of his friends (who should have been a stranger) asked his mother, “Are these Sister Archibald’s cookies?”

I dabbled with various other chocolate chip cookie recipes through the years, never using my mom’s because I could never make them like she did. It’s all in the flour, people, and I never could tell when the consistency was just right. (My brother and his wife can, though. They’ve actually fooled people at potlucks.) Anyway, between my own expectations and Zack’s dislike of chocolate chips (sometimes I wonder if he’s completely human, because that definitely smacks of robotic-ness to me) I’ve shied away from The Cookie, sticking to the humbler, less fussy types like gingersnaps and snickerdoodles.

Still, when Mom’s a thousand miles away and a hankering for The Cookie comes, sometimes the only thing I can do is answer its call.

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Not sure, but the consistency is pretty close . . .

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They appear to be baking correctly . . .

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There’s only one way to check. [Bite, chew, swallow.] Not too bad. I can just blame the slight sandiness (Hi, Sandi!) on the gluten-free flour, right?

Right.

When Zack asked me the next day if I’d put a few extra cookies in his lunch, I said, “I only have two left without chocolate chips.”

“That’s okay,” he said. “Some of my friends like chocolate chips.”

Huh.

He’s giving them to his friends. They’ll probably never be as good as Mom’s (is anything ever that good?), but I guess they’re good enough.

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10 responses

11 06 2009
jennica

hey Wendy,

i would totally eat your cookies. but since you are so far away feel free to tell your mom where I live….in case she’s forgotten:)

11 06 2009
Christina

I have the same issue with an oatmeal cookie recipe! They’ll never be the same as my mom’s!

11 06 2009
Clint

Man, that makes me hungry. We were pretty darn impressed with what you whipped up while we were at your place this spring.

12 06 2009
melissa

I think I remember some amazing black licorice toffee your mom made one Christmas.
I love baking, but can’t make cookies either.

12 06 2009
Kathleen

yum! They look good.
My best memories from your childhood home definitely include food (mostly desserts!)
I want an orange tupperware cookie jar too.

12 06 2009
Tami

They were yummy. I havent sampled your mom’s, but yours are amazing. In fact I’m feeling kind of hungry for cookies right about now…

12 06 2009
mandy

They look delicious!

Ethan chooses his lunch items based on possible trades. Apparently mandarian oranges are a hot commodity.

12 06 2009
Mike

We’ve gotten the recipe down pretty much, and when I say we, I mean me. I make them, Sandi just likes to eat the dough. They have been a big hit in Moscow, I’m not going to lie. However, I’m sure the gluten-free flour poses and extra problem (other than the sandiness), but they look great. Also, mom’s recipe calls for only 1/2 a bag of chocolate chips, I would put in at least 3/4ths, but we don’t have a robot in our house. Mom is also claiming that she has “forgotten,” but I’ll have to wait until she makes a batch before I give my verdict.

13 06 2009
Rebecca Talley

Wow–shouldn’t have come here while I’m doing the South Beach diet (no cookies). Made me extremely hungry!! They look delicious!

I’d love to have you participate in my blog tour. Email me your address and I’ll have my publisher send you a review copy. Thanks!!

Love the title of your blog and I’m so glad to know your real name isn’t Earwaxtasteslikecrayons (though I do wonder how you know that 🙂 ).

15 06 2009
Mrs. Olsen

It’s true people…Mrs. Archibald’s cookies are legend. Maybe, just maybe, you could have your mom guest post and give a step by step photo essay of how she does it. Does she use cake flour? Does she use a convection oven? What is the deal?

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