I’ve been feeling a little disoriented, a little homeless for the last few weeks. The movers took my belongings from my Boston apartment in early January. I spent a few days sleeping on an air mattress in the nearly-empty shell of my beloved apartment while ghosts of the way it used to be danced in my mind. I lived with a couple of friends during my last four nights in Boston (during which I was introduced to the awesomeness that is Pawn Stars). And upon arriving in Los Angeles, I stayed at a hotel for the first few days before my new apartment was set up enough for me to actually live there.
Even then, it took a few days for me to adjust to my new place. Since I went off to college ten years ago (sheesh, has it been that long?), I’ve become accustomed to uprooting myself frequently. But the process of making a place feel like home still takes time. I find myself confused in my new kitchen, unsure of how to organize things. My nightstand is now on the left side of my bed instead of the right, and it feels odd turning that way to reach for my magazines and my bottle of water. I don’t have a bathtub anymore, but rather a large glass sliding-door shower stall. Small changes, to be sure, but it’s funny how you never notice how ingrained and automatic your habits are until you’re put into a new environment.
And I won’t deny that I miss my Boston apartment. I miss the way I knew every inch of it, how functioning on a daily basis was so easy. I still feel like a stranger in my new apartment sometimes, still trying to establish my routine. I miss my old kitchen, with its more spacious drawers and an easier-to-clean counter top. Most of all, I miss the insane amount of natural light that I got in that apartment, high up on the thirteenth floor. Here, I’m on the second floor and most of my windows are blocked by trees. It’s pretty (I pretend that I’m living in a tree house, finally fulfilling a childhood fantasy) but I really, really love lots of sunshine, and I miss having that. I also get cold because it’s so shady – ironically, I’m colder in my apartment in southern California than I was in Boston.
However, slowly but steadily, my new apartment is beginning to feel like home. The gazillion boxes in my living room have been (mostly) unpacked. Clothes have been folded and hung. The apartment is starting to feel like me. And I wanted to bake something in it for the very first time.
I decided to make chocolate chip cookies, in spite of the fact my new 2012 Martha Stewart Cookies calendar came with recipes for each gorgeous monthly picture. Chocolate chip cookies are without a doubt my favorite cookie in the world, but more importantly, something about them just says home. They’re not fancy or unusual, they’re familiar and cozy. These cookies have the perfect hallmarks of a chocolate chip cookie: slightly crispy on the exterior, chewy on the interior, and positively loaded with chocolate chips. And on a sunny afternoon, they offered me a welcome sense of familiarity.
Classic Chocolate Chip Cookies
From Smitten Kitchen
Yields 20 cookies
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, cold, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
1 large egg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cups semisweet chocolate chips
1 cup walnuts or pecans, toasted and chopped (optional – I omitted)
Place oven rack in top third of the oven and preheat to 300 degrees F. Line three baking sheets with parchment paper.
Beat the sugars and butter together on medium speed until smooth. This will take a few minutes since the butter is cold. Mix in the egg, vanilla, and baking soda.
Mix the flour and salt into the batter. Mix in the chocolate chips and nuts (if using).
Scoop the cookie dough into 2-tablespoon balls and place 8 balls, spaced 4 inches apart, on each of the baking sheets. These cookies spread quite a bit, so make sure you leave enough space between each.
Bake for 18-20 minutes, or until pale golden brown. Remove from the oven and cool on a wire rack.
Store cookies at room temperature in an airtight container for up to 3 days.