Chocolate Chip Cookies and Getting Back to Basics

IMG_7226One of my blogger friends, Shannon, the voice of a periodic table, started a project about a year and a half (or so) ago called the Just One Question Project. She gathered food bloggers, and she asked us questions about writing, life, food, cooking. We all weighed in, and then she published these big round-up posts of all our answers. This has been a great way to witness trends in blogging and to chat with other writers about what food blogging is (and is not) these days. After a year-long hiatus, the Just One Question Project is back, and across the board, we all had some anxiety about blogging (or not blogging enough). Our cooking and eating lives had changed. New jobs, marriages, babies, etc. (You can read the full post here.) I felt that old refreshing feeling of knowing I’m not alone in this writing game.

In short, I found that I wasn’t the only one whose relationship to her dear blog had shifted.

And once that moment of solidarity was out of the way, Shannon issued the next question:  she wanted us to detail any goals we might have for the rest of the year. We’ve got roughly six months left; what else do we want to accomplish before the year is out?

This question took me a few days to answer, mostly because it required some thought, but also because I’m in a sort of transitional period in my life. I’m stripping away excess, I’m getting back to basics. What do I want to do? What can I say yes to? And frankly, I hate stating goals publicly. If/when I fall short, there’s an inevitable feeling of shame and embarrassment when people ask, “how’s the book coming?” and I have to be like, “it’s not, I’m a failure, I’m going to jump in the ocean and live with the mer-folk, who, everyone knows, do not write books.”

There are six more months to the rest of the year, and when I think of goals I want to accomplish, things I can do by putting one foot (or, in my case word) in front of the other, it all comes down to writing. I want to finish my book. And I want to come home to my blog. Both things are totally doable. It just requires me to do this “back to basics” thinking – to shut out the noise and do the work.

When I think about hunkering down this way, I think of simple, comforting food. I think of chocolate chip cookies. They’re one of the ultimate basic recipes. It’s one of the first things a lot of people learn to make (with the recipe right there on the bag of chocolate chips). These cookies don’t present you with a lot of challenges or distraction. They’re low-fuss, predictable, workable. You know what you’re getting. You know how to move forward. And frankly, nothing tastes more comforting to me than a salty, buttery cookie, chock full of chocolate and walnuts.

Nothing says, “Hey, Dana, you can do it!” like a chocolate chip cookie.

And so I paired my response to Shannon with a batch of Deb Perelman’s favorite chocolate chip cookies (at least, favorite as of 2008, which is when her recipe was published on her blog). I let book planning and blog brainstorming couple with softened butter and toasty chopped walnuts and melty chocolate chips. And I tried not to worry about sharing these goals publicly. I thought of it as I would sharing cookies. And I am always trying to share cookies with people.

So here’s to the next six months. And here’s to lots of chocolate chip cookies.

2 thoughts on “Chocolate Chip Cookies and Getting Back to Basics

  1. I love that you put so much thought into my Just One Question Project: reading everyone’s responses makes me feel such a kinship with everyone when they hit my inbox, and i can’t really express how loved it makes me feel to be in the company of such thoughtful bloggers who really seem to care for one another. The internet may have its faults, but bringing people together from all over and allowing friendships that may never have been? One of its greatest achievements.

    That being said, i need to get on this last round of answers and publish them: i loved what you said, and everyone had such great thoughts that i can’t wait to discuss our 6-month goals together. Hers’s to the next 6 months for sure, and here’s to you and everyone else who makes the project possible. Go us! To chocolate chip cookies, and friendships.

    1. That’s what I love about the Just One Question Project: we’re all from such different places in writing and life, but really, we’re all in the same struggle. It’s a hustle for all of us, and that solidarity is pretty priceless. I’m in solid danger of already not meeting my blog goal, but as I read about a barre class once: it’s not about how many times you stop, it’s about how many times you start. Onward!

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