Sugar and Spice. The Nice and Not Nice.

Some of the twelve of you who read this have probably noticed that I'm trying to post with a bit more frequency these days. I guess I've had a fire lit under me and am trying to keep this up, because I like fire. Wait. My original intention was to have this post go up before Christmas, but some events transpired and it seems I couldn't make that happen. My favorite professor died very recently. I think the most lovely tribute to him, in my eyes, has been how many other former students have called him their favorite in recent days. So many stories, so many fond memories, such a kind, kind person. In addition to many other small acts of kindness, he pushed me to take a massive risk by encouraging me to quit the most toxic "real world" job I've ever had, with no plan B on which to fall back. I would never have made that decision without him, because God knows I plan everything-- I know exactly what I am having for breakfast, snack, lunch, snack, dinner, snack and dessert today. But I will never regret that decision, that very life-altering decision. And I will never be able to thank him again. My life's not exactly glamorous, but it's better than it was, better than it would have been, I'm sure, had I stayed in a position that had me crying and shaking on the regular. And it's strange not to see him pop up on Gchat anymore. I remember thinking recently that it was odd that he wasn't on anymore, wasn't "wasting time as usual" as he'd humbly type out whenever I messaged him (while he was probably working on yet another acclaimed pop culture-heavy book). I remember telling myself I'd shoot him an email, convincing myself I'd swing by the English Department I worked at as a college student to say hello to some old friends one of these days, prof included. That's time for you.

This is from a beach in Montauk. Maybe it's "the beach in Montauk," or maybe there's an actual name, but I am too lowly to know these things. Anyway, it was beautiful and freezing and I had to climb a lot of slippery rocks to get to that point, and it was worth it.

I'm not going to go on and on about how you don't know what you've got 'til it's gone, or that time is precious, or that we're all too damn busy with nonsense these days to see what's really important. And it's not because those things aren't true-- they are-- but it's because the best way to honor the too-rare happy, genuine, humble, hilarious people in life is to try to be all of those things. And I will. I will try.

Was that a New Year's resolution? I don't really believe in those, mostly because I'm terrible all year round and am always actively trying to make myself less terrible. If you drunkenly force me into giving you one at a party or something though, my answer will probably be to stop f*$%ing cursing so much. Except those various symbols won't be there because I'll be saying the f-word, the full word and not "eff star star star star -ing" to you. Some people say they think it's charming to hear a lady curse. My boyfriend might once have been one of those people, but I think maybe he is not anymore. Or, at least, I don't find all of the horrific, crass words that now make their way out of my brain and through my mouth to be charming anymore. And forget my parents. If they could disown my profane ass (Does it count as cursing if I'm trying to call myself a donkey?) at 28, I'm sure they would. That was very long. Don't you now wish you never came up to me at this hypothetical party, imaginary drunken stranger?

Speaking of parties, I made the cookies below and brought them to a party, and they were a huge hit. And you should either throw a party, wait for the next party you're invited to, weasel your way into a party as if you were invited, or straight up crash a stranger's affair and bring these.

Chai Browned Butter Snickerdoodles (makes about 40 cookies)

adapted slightly from Grandbaby Cakes

2 sticks of butter (I used salted, if using unsalted add 1/2 teaspoon of salt to the recipe)

1 cup of granulated sugar

2 large eggs

2 3/4 cups of all purpose flour

1 teaspoon of baking soda

1 1/2 teaspoons of vanilla extract

1 teaspoon of loose chai or chai spice (I used loose chai and I was scared to but I totally shouldn't have been...I'll explain)

For the coating

1/4 cup of granulated sugar

1 teaspoon of ground cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon of loose chai or chai spice

So, I'll start by 'splaining myself. I have twenty five different kinds of chai at home. That is not an exaggeration; one time, on a whim, when I was feeling rich and stupid (probably drunk?), I purchased some sort of online deal that allowed me to purchase fifty bucks worth of chai. No, I didn't pay fifty bucks for it, but what I discovered was that fifty bucks (or "fifty bucks" because I'm a cheapo/deal maven) buys a LOT of loose tea. It seemed like a waste to try to make my own "chai spice," which to me never fully matches the taste of actual chai, when I had the good stuff at my disposal. Go ahead and use loose chai tea if you have it. It will not disappoint. (Also, Wordpress keeps trying to tell me chai is not a real word, and it's like, come on, Wordpress. Give a brown girl some love and recognize.)

Whew. So, to begin, brown your butter. This isn't a totally necessary step if you're in a rush to get these cookies down your gullet, but... ok, it's kind of totally necessary because it gives the cookies hella depth. To brown, melt your two sticks of butter in a small saucepan over medium heat. Let the butter continue to cook until it turns brown, smells nutty, and there are tiny brown flecks in it. Set aside to let it cool.

In a large bowl, whisk together butter, sugar, eggs and vanilla until combined. Add in flour, baking soda, salt and chai and mix until a dough forms. Chill dough in refrigerator for at least 30 minutes (note: this dough, as you can see from the yield above, makes a lot of cookies. I reserved about half of the dough and made more cookies three days later, which is about as long as I'd wager this dough will keep in the fridge, though it's definitely freezable up to 3 months).

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Now, preheat your oven to 350ºF. Stir together cinnamon, sugar and chai spice for the coating and set aside in a small bowl. When dough has chilled, roll into tablespoon-sized balls, then cover in cinnamon-chai-sugar mixture and set on a parchment-covered baking sheet. Leave about an inch between balls, as these cookies will spread when baked.

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Bake for about ten minutes, until cookies have flattened out. I wouldn't bake for any longer since you want to keep them nice and soft.

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Yes, ok? Yes, that is a big fat bite that I took before I even took this picture. The lens is also a little bit foggy because the cookies were still pretty hot when I took this picture, which means they were piping hot when I took a bite out of one, which I do not regret because it was FRIGGIN' DELICIOUS. They were snapped up pretty quickly at the party, too-- so quickly that I had to promise two guests that I'd make two face-sized chai snickerdoodles just for them next time.

Happy New Year, everyone. May it be beautiful, open and endlessly kind to you.