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Posts Tagged ‘chocolate chip cookie’

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I just ate a chocolate chip cookie after going though the basket until I found the softest. I didn’t pull the Charmin bit because I only buy soft cookies, nor because I’m a really original narcissist who marks her territory by way of finger dents through Saran Wrap.

No, I did it because my jaw’s been on the fritz this week, and I can’t do any heavy-duty chewing. This happens. I was diagnosed with TMJ disorder in 2000. Google can tell you more, but the layman’s description is I’m a tooth grinder, and it takes a toll on my jaw. The cookie was really good, and I’m thanking my lucky stars, because I was starving and it was the sole soft cookie in the basket.

When you have this condition, being under stress often means pain—a little or a lot, depending on the stress in question. Many teachers have given me many ways to chill and to relieve the soreness.* It’s something I just plain manage. And with all of the problems in the world, especially of late, I’m not whining. It just led my brain to some connections.

As a kid I hated any food that was lumpy. Ix-nay on nuts in candy bars or brownies. Fie on chunky peanut butter and chunky tomato sauce. Ice cream had to be soft, the gooshy kind out of the machine. I didn’t even like chicken or beef on the bone.

Hindsight being what it is, I know why. It wasn’t because my jaw was acting up. That happened much later. I was stressed a lot, so I think I just wanted my food to be one less hassle.

And probably not surprisingly, the inclination toward smooth sailing back then went beyond food. This girl wanted simple, predictable, and routine…across the board. That’s common with very young kids, but I hung in with that a lot longer than most. If I couldn’t get smooth, I felt compelled to make it happen…or to tune out entirely.

Mind you, this is not to say smoothness is bad all the time and in every case. Sometimes it’s great. For some, it’s always perfect, and I bow to that. One should have what one wants. But for me it got old. I’d been stifling myself and didn’t even know it. For me, smoothness is fine. Too-smooth, though = too confining.

Things slowly started to change. I had the most delectable hors d’oeuvres here and there of a world that was bigger than the one I was in. A big friend here, three big teachers there. Travel, which can’t help but expand the old worldview. I started asking a lot of questions, talked to people without wanting to burrow into my very well-worn, self-conscious hidey-hole. I got normal answers and I got weirdo answers. I threw it all against the wall of my mind to see what stuck. Laced up my adventure boots. Even my laugh got bigger. It was crazy.

And you saw this coming: I started to eat stuff I’d never eaten before. Lumpy stuff. I ate walnuts in muffins. Grew to adore tomato sauce made with just skinned plum tomatoes. I was on chunky peanut butter like Homer on a doughnut. Spare ribs were cheerfully gnawed. I only wanted hard ice cream and only with a bunch of stuff in it—Moose Tracks, Cookies & Cream, Cherry Chocolate Chip. I’d switched out too-smooth for a crazy quilt of nubbly, and things were Finally Good. Life sparkled like a vampire.

Then whoops, the ancient stress I hadn’t resolved clobbered me. And food imitating life, I mellowed back down again. I had to—I was too spooked to do otherwise, and besides, my stomach wouldn’t let me eat much. Anything with power was strictly off the table, literally and figuratively. After about five years of these boring shenanigans, you’d better believe I went after it all—travel, adventure, FOOD—like a feral dog. And still do until I need a break, or my jaw cuts in for a slow dance.

Going smooth from time to time—this works for me. Sitting on the sand and watching the tide go out. Floating to the bottom of a really, really well-made vanilla ice cream, with only like four ingredients in it. Or when basic stress and my jaw sucker-punch me for a while and I have to soften my diet, as my oral surgeon says. I guess the Tilt-A-Whirl that’s been been my life was setting me up to figure out what’s the best way to get at all of it. A little gorge here, a little smooth there. Maybe I should be shooting less for a crazy quilt than the throw** I’m sitting under as I write this. I love this thing. It’s fleece on one side and nubbly faux fur on the other. It ain’t the fleece that makes it awesome and it ain’t the nubbly. It’s the both.

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*If you’re in the same boat, please Google myofascial release technique.

**Is it me or do I write about this throw a lot? Last week. Over a year ago. It’s totally that great.

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The best fresh-baked chocolate chip cookie sold at the Jersey Shore is at Dean’s Natural Food Market on Route 35 in Ocean.

Well, that’s a powerful statement. Here comes the reasoning.

Chocolate chip cookies, which have to be the most popular variety of cookie in the U.S., are as easy to come by here as anywhere else. But you’ll usually find them sugary, expensive and under-baked (at upscale bakeries); flavorless (at an uber-tycoon coffee emporium which shall remain nameless here because you already know its name); or chip-skimpy (don’t you love when they drop three timid chips on top as a decoy? The rest of the cookie is chipless!). The biggest offenders are those that try too hard: they’re an inch thick with shortening, which holds its shape when baked. The cookie looks impressive, sure. But it’s sandy-textured and generally flavorless. Shortening can be in there, but it cannot and will not take the place of real butter. Ever.

So let’s examine Dean’s cookie, which you’re going to snack on as you drive off to errand #5. Sold individually in cello bags or dispensed from an old-fashioned glass apothecary jar, it’s CD-sized and lightly browned along the edges. Now break it in half. It bends a bit before separating, then you have to pull a tiny bit—that’s the brown sugar talking. Bite into it, and the initial crack through the delicate top crust gives way to a multi-textured chewiness. Then the pure butter hits you. Then the chocolate. Then the brown sugar again. Then there’s the small matter of staying in your lane.

This cookie is amazing. But because no review is complete without balance, here’s one itty-bitty criticism: it needs a pinch more salt. For chocolate, salt is like an arrogant, big-mouthed European voice coach with too much makeup and gaudy jewelry: it makes it sing, and sing BIG.

Geez, what does this cookie cost? Turns out it’s not only scrumptious but a good value: it contains lots of organic ingredients, it’s massive, but it’s still only 99 cents. Huzzah.

Crappy day? Great day? Meh day? It’ll cheer you up or keep you cheered up. It’s good to savor when you want to get at those honest flavors or just to snarf when you’re famished. It makes a great, smug lunch. No one will tell.

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