They're sharp, those boys.
I think it began Wednesday because we always get home a little earlier on Wednesdays. But there was dinner to start, and laundry to start, and rambunctious boys to settle, and the idea of being cramped into the small crook of our L-shaped kitchen beside said boys jockeying for ingredients, measuring spoons, handfuls of chocolate chips, and turns to add small whisps of dried goods, was just too much.
So we made the dinner.
We started the laundry.
We made couch cushion tents in the family room.
And the fun started again the next day after school. "Are we going to make the cookies tonight, Mom? The freezer's empty!"
"Like a steel trap," I whispered.
Louder, I said, "We'll see."
(Which, incidentally, they have not yet associated that phrase with "No." in parent speak.)
So we did our due. We routed around for remaindered chocolate chips in the Costco-sized bag. We checked our stocks of sugars inside the cream canisters by the glinting onyx mixer. We opened the cabinet above the cookbook holder to make sure the stick of butter was, indeed, room temperature because this detail is nonnegotiable. We unclasped the chilled crisp styrofoam egg carton for a quick count. "Yes, there are enough." And, then, we investigated the final detail -- the Crisco -- which, I have found through trial and error, makes the perfect half-and-half accompaniment to the butter. (The recipe on the back of the Toll House bag will not share this important tidbit...)
"Ohhhhhhhh, guys. We're all out of Crisco." I measured my words, unsure how they'd land for the littles.
"Can you get some tomorrow?" the elder responded with resilience.
"ABSOLUTELY." Not bad; not bad. "Let's keep going with our couch cushion tent..."
Friday afternoon came, the Crisco purchased, and the familiar walk into the kitchen through the laundry room beckoned the question du jour.
"Yes. We have everything we need. LET'S MAKE THE COOKIES!"
Two counter-height barstools on felt pads slid into the L's little crook for two observers; one mixer emerged from the corner's shadow and into the afternoon light; flours, sugars, vanilla, soda, salt, and the butter plus Crisco speckled the countertop; the smaller little watched each detail.
"Eggs, Mommy! We need the eggs."
The chilled crisp styrofoam egg carton fit into a rectangular opening just in front of him. I didn't catch this
"MOMMY! CHICKENS!" He shakes two eggs like maracas. Inside, I giggle.
"Perfect timing, little guy! We're ready to add the eggs in the mixer!"
Crack. Mix. Ping. The shell lands inside the well of our aluminum sink.
Crack. Mix. Ping. The second shell lands inside the well of our aluminum sink.
I concentrate; another secret of baking chocolate chip cookies is to avoid overmixing. We tip the red ribbed batter bowl over the mixer; dry ingredients rain into the dough. We dump in the last of the chocolate chips; they skip and plunk before the mixer paddle finishes the first step of our project.
The smaller little is also busy, I find out, as sink contents shift and clang.
"MOMMY!!!!! THE CHICKENS ARE GONE!!!! GET THEM BACK!!!!" he waves an egg shell like a yellow caution flag at the Indianapolis 500.
These cookies could be the driest, most over- or underdone, crispiest, crunchiest, greasiest, flattest, or fluffiest. I'll cling to this second -- this experience -- much longer, always seeing the mixer, the L, the egg carton, the egg shells, and then hearing his inquisitive little three-year-old voice...