I step out of the quiet, air-conditioned apartment where I have spent the morning reading, and onto the balcony with its view of the ocean. I sit down on a chair with a curved back, its white wires tinged with an orange rust the color of the late afternoon sun. I stretch out my legs on the chair opposite me, and I feel the sun warming my legs and my arms, and I’m suddenly aware that I was a little cold.
The ocean beyond is quiet and soothing and calm where it meets the horizon, its blue the same pale hue as the sky, except that it shimmers and sparkles brilliantly. It breaks into large, wild, frothy waves as it meets the shore. I spot a multitude of tiny black dots, among the waves, chaotically spotting the water’s edge; people are out there, playing. The beach is covered in red and white parasols propped open like heads flung back in laughter.
I’ve been reading When Women Were Birds, by Terry Tempest Williams, and it’s the kind of book that makes my entire body quiet. Makes all of me gather together, pause, in awe; like I’m standing in the holiest of temples.
She writes: “Creativity is another form of open space, whose very nature is to disturb, disrupt, and “bring us to tenderness”.”
That’s what her prose does to me: it brings me to tenderness.
“I wish someone had told me when I was young that it was not happiness I could count on, but change.”
I think that’s one of the things that held me back in my decision to leave my marriage, to leave New York- this fear of change, of the unknown. How in my mind I held onto the known even when I wasn’t happy, how I was betting on the known instead of betting on happiness, because the two were so inextricably tied up. How when I opened myself to change, when I let go, when I allowed things to flow, it opened up a door inside me to joy.
“Once upon a time, when women were birds, there was the simple understanding that to sing at dawn and to sing at dusk was to heal the world through joy. The birds still remember what we have forgotten, that the world is meant to be celebrated.”
–Terry Tempest Williams, When Women Were Birds.
Chocolate Chip Ice Cream Sandwiches
From Molly Hays’ Remedial Eating
Yield: 3-4 dozen cookies (18-24 sandwiches)
Molly notes that she prefers to beat her butter cold, which results in a firmer texture of the finished cookie. However, if you’re using a hand-held mixer, do let it sit out for ten minutes at room temperature first.
If making these cookies to eat out of hand (totally delicious!): reduce kosher salt to 1 teaspoon. If using ordinary table salt, reduce to 1 teaspoon for ice cream sandwiches, 3/4 teaspoon for plain cookies.
1 cup + 2 tablespoons (255 grams) salted butter, straight from the fridge, sliced 1/4″ (see headnotes)
1 cup granulated sugar
rounded 3/4 cup dark brown sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt (see headnotes)
1 tablespoon vanilla
2 1/2 cups unbleached, all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
4 cups (1 pound; 450 grams) chocolate chips or chunks
good vanilla ice cream, around 1 pint
Place two racks in center positions, and preheat oven to 350°F/180C. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.
Cream butter, sugars and salt on medium speed, for about 2 minutes- until thoroughly combined but not yet fluffy. Scrape sides, add egg, and mix for 30 seconds. Scrape sides, add vanilla, and mix for another 30 seconds. Add flour, baking soda and baking powder, and mix on lowest speed, until just combined. Add chocolate, and mix for 10 seconds. Finish incorporating by hand, if needed.
Scoop dough into 1″ balls, and arrange them 10 to a tray, spacing them out in rows of 3, 2, 3, 2. Flatten each ball slightly with a damp hand, and bake for ten minutes. Remove trays from the oven, and tap them against the stove or countertop several times to release air, reverse trays, and return to oven for another 3-4 minutes. Molly notes that cookies are ready “when gloss is just gone, edges are slightly darkened, and centers are just set”. They will continue to bake and firm as they cool. Remove from oven, and allow to cool on trays for 10-15 minutes. Remove to racks to cool completely, 30 minutes or so.
To assemble sandwiches, set ice cream out to soften for 10 minutes. Place a heaping spoonful of ice cream (roughly 1/4 cup) onto one upturned cookie, then top with another. Repeat, as desired. Place sandwiches in the freezer for 30 minutes to firm up. Eat immediately, or wrap tightly in saran wrap and pack into containers; they will keep beautifully for at least one month.