Birds, Chocolate Chunk Cookies with Tart Cherries, Apricots and Pecans

There are no birds today, or, I was too frustrated, busy and scatterbrained to see them. Did take a quick look out the window when I came home though and they were not in their bird condominium. Birds must be like people, they have things to do, places to go, bird shopping, or bird cocktail parties, or bird baby showers…

Work awful. New job. Everything gone wrong. I-Pad didn’t work. I don’t own one, wasn’t sure how to use one. It’s just like a computer. Got it on and then it didn’t work. We had to do the work on paper. Pen, paper, and pencil felt good. I still got everything wrong. Didn’t understand the instructions, worked too fast too scared and too frustrated and made a mess of things. Women in next booths talked non stop about “Scandal”, “How to Get Away with Murder”, “Breaking Bad” (one said she watched all 60 episodes of “Breaking Bad” in one week……) I tried to just sit and be quiet. Open offices and cubes stink!

Home. House cold and stacks of bills and insurance forms to review. Years of papers to clear and files. Yes, years. One day you suddenly realize you have years of papers and stuff… all useless… weighing you down.. Finally going to throw it all away. House a mess. The house always seems a mess! I can’t think when the house is a mess. I clean it. I still can’t think.

Bake sale at church. Pastor sent a reminder to help. Proceeds go to a battered woman’s shelter. Too tired to bake. But I have all the ingredients and the cause is so worthy. Nothing worse than being beaten by your husband or boyfriend or anyone for that matter. A life of fear.

Started the cookies. The kitchen a mess though. The kitchen always seems a mess! Who the hell lives here! There were dandelion greens soaking in the sink. A cutting board with one big mushroom that didn’t make it into the sauce pan, a lot of chopped up garlic sitting there for when I get around to sauteing the greens… I soaked them in three changes of water and they still seem dirty….nothing worse than food with sand in it. I remember a holiday dinner where a cook, very proud of his culinary skills, made a mushroom sauce that was full of sand and grit. I couldn’t eat it, though it was full of expensive exotic mushrooms.

No time to clean the kitchen so made the cookies by pushing the mess to the side of the counter. The only thing I did that was efficient was take out the butter last night so it was soft. But my house is so cold it was still a little firm. I hate baking or cooking when the kitchen is a mess. I think somehow it shows in the final product… you can taste the mess. Oh well.

Flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt (salt makes a cookie extra delicious,tempering whatever sugar, sweet ingredients there are),dried Montmorency cherries (so expensive, but worth it), dried apricots,pecans.
Bittersweet chocolate. Two eggs. Light brown sugar and plain sugar. I always use less sugar.

Forgot what a mess cutting chocolate with a knife is, especially dull knife. Need to sharpen knives! I used to break apart the chocolate with fingers– but that gets hard and my fingers feel like they will crack. I found a big cleaver still sharp. Chocolate powder over everything! Mix it all up. Forget how heavy this cookie dough is. Also, the counters in my house too high for me; my back hurts when I stir. The dough which is already very stiff, is so full of chocolate chunks, thick apricots, cherries and pecans. It’s like mixing a bucket of concrete with a teaspoon.

I try to mix the batter with a big wooden spoon and still too hard,then try another, then two others, then three, then I just use some old fashioned silver soup spoons from Germany. Spoons all over the counters. The dough still not stirred enough, the cherries and apricots all in big clumps in the dough, the chocolate not evenly distributed… my back is killing me. Finally I hop on the kitchen stool and kneel over the bowl to stir it up feeling like the witches in “Hamlet” over their cauldrons. Except they were neater.

Finally done mixing but the dough is so stiff it’s hard to get it on the measuring spoon and onto the cookie sheets. Recipe said use heaping tablespoons of batter…. the measuring spoons are too little and too deep. I use two soup spoons, one to scoop it up and one to scrape it off and onto the cookie sheet. Some cookies are too small, some are too big, I take pieces of cookie dough off with my hands (they are clean!) and reform the cookies.

J is picking them up in an hour or so– they still have to bake, then cool in sheets on racks, then cool on rack… then box them, label them..

I should not have had those two glasses of wine at lunch…and I’m listening to Leonard Cohen sing “Everybody Knows”… it’s distracting me from task. Actually I have been listening to him all week… he’s addictive and the words permanently etched into my brain.. “..everybody knows the dice is loaded, everybody rolls with their fingers crossed, everybody knows that the war is over, everybody knows that the good guys lost… Everybody knows…… everybody knows that you love me baby, give or take a few…..and. . you were so discreet…. everybody knows…but there were so many people that you had to meet…. without your clothes…. everybody knows……”

Cookies finally out of oven. Didn’t burn them. The house smells like heaven… Cookies cooling.. One fell onto the floor, I picked it up and ate it hot. Kitchen a mess again, dirty bowls, dirty spoons, sugar on the counter, sugar on the floor, baking pans and spatulas sitting on the chairs and garbage can. That’s what happens when you’re in a hurry and not organized.

Head full of Leonard Cohen and bad news on the radio, back hurts, tired, that awful Holiday brain turmoil mess everyone gets in this time of year
is setting in.. The problem is on top of the holiday business, there are always end of the year doctor and dentist appt. insurance and mortgage and tax reviews…cleaning up garden, cleaning up the house, cleaning the garage, checking the furnace, the chimneys, the gutters…

Phone rings, cookies not done yet and I answer.

God sent an angel! D on phone saying my name in his clear melodic tenor. Laughing when I tell him I am knee deep in cookies and messes. An unlikely friendship. He brilliant, funny, gorgeous, happy, smiling, talented, creative, … has one of those faces that lights up a room, a cliché yes, but his really lights up the room, because he is also a good person, with a good heart, and he works very very hard (something I should learn to do). He makes me laugh always. I feel like I am ten years old blowing bubbles with my friends in the backyard.

My back is killing me. The kitchen not quite as messy, sugar still on floor dishes almost done, a few cookies left for me as a present to myself. Oh these cookies! The tart cherries smelling of late summer in the garden, the apricots suave and soft, faintly perfumed, the bittersweet chocolate slightly melted, pecans smelling of Georgia, reminding me of Truman Capote’s baking fruitcakes story…. what was the name of it, Geraldine Page was in the TV version…. And the salt, the salt of the earth tempering them to give them a slightly savory bread like quality….

Think to myself what these cookies are going for. To help women. Women in need, who are battered and scared and damaged physically and mentally, many with small children.

Here I am in a home filled with cookie smells, no one bad here to hurt me and I just spoke to an angel.

Thank you God.

About O

I live in a suburb of an American City. I write to try and understand myself and the world around me. I love nature, art, music, literature and beauty in all its forms. I love food. But then food is a whole other world.... I think the world is crazy and many of us will soon go insane from living in this world. What I love almost more than anything is my garden. I love its trees its shrubs and its many flowers. I love the birds, their flying and singing and dancing movements in and out of the sky and garden. Their freedom. I could watch birds all day long. They always bring joy. I love to work in my garden. To get muddy and dirty, digging, weeding, mowing, pruning and deadheading. Then, I like to have a cool glass of white wine or red, or sometimes a Manhattan, and drink in hand, I walk around and look at the fruits of my labor. And that walk each and every day in my little paradise.. because that is what gardens are.... brings me almost complete joy... My blog is whennothingworks because for a long time nothing has worked. Friends, family, jobs, money, houses, careers, lovers, things--- it all just doesn't work sometimes, or most of the time. The garden always works. Nature and its beauty always work. And, in my garden, I can sit quietly and think, or just breathe, and somehow manage to survive the world.
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1 Response to Birds, Chocolate Chunk Cookies with Tart Cherries, Apricots and Pecans

  1. Danilo says:

    Been meaning to leave a comment on this piece and finally got an opportunity. I love/hate that song “Everybody Knows” by Leonard Cohen. Just heard it maybe about 3 years ago now. I can so relate to the song.

    Funny you say an “unlikely friendship” with someone you know because I have had many similar experiences with people I’ve met in the past 10 years or so (and so grateful for those new friendships). You are certainly one of them and always enjoy catching up with you!


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