Intro

I wanted to be the mom who had warm cookies waiting on the counter when they got home from school. They would bound through the door and race into the kitchen being lured in by the chocolate and caramelized sugar perfume. I would just be finishing wiping up the last of the flour from the counter as they told me about their day. Beyond that I hadn’t thought much about life as a mom before I was one.

Then suddenly it happened. Well, after 9 months (40 weeks and 3 days but who’s counting?) of heartburn, back aches, tiredness, nausea, stretch marks and those sweet little kicks that made me teary every time, I became a mom.

I didn’t enter this role gracefully. I fought its tendencies towards monotony, the constant need to be self-less and the days on end when finding time for a shower seemed less likely than winning the lottery.

Love. That part I had down. When my first born was six weeks old I remember holding him and sobbing, fearing that he would never understand how much I love him. I thought that maybe he could see it in my eyes as we exchanged a look. He made a sort of blink and nod that assured me he felt my love until I heard a rumble and realized our moment was misinterpreted as what was now a dirty diaper.

Parenting is something that oddly elicits advice when it’s not sought after. Nearly six years into this gig I find myself freely offering up my own bits and pieces here and there to people that most likely are rolling their eyes right in front of me without my noticing because I’m quite into my own moment of reflecting on parenting. I can’t help myself. Perhaps because it has been the hardest and yet the most wonderful thing I’ve ever done. Through parenting I’ve been revealed, exposed and refined. These little ones have the ability to teach me, shape me and instruct me. That’s the sort of thing that I can’t help but talk about.

As a very new mom I was doing the eye rolling at unsolicited advice. Especially the one about enjoying the time when they are so little, it goes so fast. I heard that one hundreds of times and each time I wanted to offer them my children so they could dispel their own myth about this being an enjoyable time. I wanted them to “enjoy” the sleepless nights, the insessent diapers, the endless pile of spit-up soaked laundry, the piercing whines, and the lack of quiet moments alone. I resented that comment as it immediately made me feel horribly guilty for not loving every moment of this gig. There must be something wrong with me, I thought, these days don’t feel fleeting they feel endless.

Waking in the middle of the night to soothe them back to sleep I would remind myself, “enjoy this” but I did not. I wanted to sleep. Of course there were and are thousands of moments that I wanted to seal and store up to open when they are grown. The feeling of a baby falling asleep in your arms, a three year old asking for “snuggles”, a five year old requesting a date with you and the joyful chorus of the three of them playing legos upstairs then eagerly bounding down the stairs to show me their creations. Those are the moments I will long for.

It’s not that I don’t normally heed words of wisdom. Cozying up to the words of those who have traversed these waters before me is one of my favorite places to reside but I quickly realized that they have forgotten the details. There is a sort of amnesia that happens as the young years roll into older ones. The stench of dirty diapers no longer permeate their home leaving little trace of what actually was the reality of the days of raising young children.

I fear I’m now doing that very thing. I see someone with a baby and I run to it like a mosquito to a bright light. I swoon over the inflated cheeks and squeeze the pudgy thighs taking care not to completely freak out the baby and his sleep-deprived mother. I think when I compare baby’s thighs to sausages and how much I just want to eat them up they are indeed quite scared.

I look deeply into the mother’s eyes and speak of how I miss those baby days. I urge her to cherish these days as they pass too quickly. I long for that sweet baby scent as I inhale her baby. She doesn’t run but I’m sure she wants to.

Then I realize, I’ve done it. I have offered the advice that I so often heard and despised. The truth is I’m thrilled that we are getting a full night’s sleep. I love that I can have conversations with my 5 year old. That he desires to spend time with me and that he lets me into his reality. He offers up little glimpses into how he thinks and feels and I soak those in. My husband and I are thrilled to see them becoming more independent and in the process they are becoming little people – really awesome little people. We are sneaking in more and more moments of our own time and it feels magical. I should tell that mom this rather than inducing guilt.

We are better people having had those sleepless nights and having been forced to be incredibly selfless. There isn’t anything I would change but I want to be able to remember the challenge of it all. I felt so alone as a new mom. I felt horrible for not liking this roll as much as I thought I should. I wanted to quit my job but the career path of being a mom is one that you can’t leave. Those littles need you and whether you realize it at the time, you need them. It’s my desire to not instill in young mothers the guilt I felt when I was told to cherish those days. The reality is it’s tough work and if you don’t enjoy every moment of it you are still an incredible mom. We need to be okay with admitting our own hardships share them with those that are close to you so that we can encourage and support one another.

We women try so hard to do it all and fool everyone into thinking we have it all together when we would do better to serve one another by sharing our struggles. When I’ve done this I have found great freedom and help as often I am not the only one feeling this way. Not that I want others to struggle as I do but there is comfort in not being alone and we can work together to ease the burden.

When you aren’t a parent there is no way of knowing how hard and how joyful this journey will be. Figuring that out is part of the process. So many times I sat holding a screaming baby thinking, “how did I get here?” For better or worse. I had no idea what I was in for but I did know that there would be cookies. Warm cookies heavily laden with dark chocolate and molasses scented brown sugar. There is comfort in cookies. At some point in this parenting job I released the burden of trying to be the mom that I am not and relished in the mom that I am. Offering my children a warm plate of cookies every now and again – that I can do. I may not be the most patient mother but there will be cookies.

 

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Caramel Chocolate Chunk Cookies

 

This recipe is an adaptation of one found in Grandma’s box. I added chocolate as I often do. You may leave it out and replace with nuts or coconut as Grandma suggests. Once baked my version is a close relative of the classic chocolate chip cookie. A bit sweeter and softer than my normal chocolate chip cookie and a subtle caramel and toffee flavor. One really can’t have too many chocolate chip cookie recipes. Also, if raw eggs don’t scare you please do yourself a favor and taste this dough – as if I needed to even suggest that, who doesn’t eat at least SOME cookie dough? The toffee flavor is most pronounced in this state.

1/2 cup (1 stick) butter

1 1/2 cups brown sugar

2 eggs

1 teaspoon vanilla

1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

2 cups flour

2 teaspoons baking powder

6-8 oz dark chocolate, chopped

 

In a small saucepan add the butter and brown sugar. Bring to a boil and simmer until the sugar has dissolved. Watch carefully as you don’t want to scorch the sugar.

Let this mixture cool slightly then add to a large mixing bowl and continue to cool for 20 minutes. Once cooled add the eggs and vanilla then stir to combine. Stir in the salt, flour and baking powder. With a few streaks of flour remaining add the chocolate. If the mixture is still warm some bits of the chocolate may melt. A little bit of melting is fine and sort of wonderful.

Place the bowl in the fridge and let chill for 30 minutes.

Pre-heat your oven to 350*

Line a sheet tray with parchment and set aside.

Scoop the batter into tablespoon-size rounds and place on the sheet tray. Bake for 12 minutes until golden around the rims. Let the cookies cool on the tray for five minutes while they settle into themselves creating a crackly crust.

Finish cooling on a wire rack.

 

** I have a fun announcement for you all! I have been nominated in the Saveur.com Best Food Blog Awards for Food Photography. Oh boy, I’m excited about this. The voting has begun and I am shamelessly asking for yours if you don’t mind. Thanks to all those who nominated! You deserve a cookie.

106 Responses to “There will be cookies”

  1. Kasey

    I think as people – parents or non-parents – we never really know how to appropriately enjoy the fleeting moments. Often, realizing all too late that we should have cherished those struggles! I try to make little reminders to myself to enjoy these moments of ‘freedom’ as a I live a life less complicated than it could be. I try not to dwell on the details…but, at the end of the day, sometimes, all you need is cookies.

    Reply
    • Ashley Rodriguez

      Kasey – Thanks for the insightful comment Kasey. We are at the end of one of those days that is screaming for cookies. Actually, if I listen closely it’s saying, “cocktail, cocktail”. I’m going to listen. Here’s to cherishing the struggles and enjoying the now.

      Reply
  2. Jenn

    I have a question about dissolving the sugar with the butter. How do I know when it’s all dissolved? I’m worried about over cooking the sugar/butter mixture and it going hard….

    Also thanks for your motherhood writing. It helped me put all my “shoulds” aside and be a bit easier on myself.

    Reply
    • Ashley Rodriguez

      Jenn – Just let it come to a boil – not just around the edges but a good solid boil. Watch it closely as the sugar around the edges could start to caramelize. Just give it a bit of a stir if you start to see that. Thanks for the kind words! Happy cookie making.

      Reply
  3. Stephanie

    I echo all of your sentiments Ashley–from wanting to be the cookie-baking mama to the notes on motherhood and all that accompanies it. Totally on the same page my friend.

    p.s. I think you are a great mom!

    Reply
  4. Ash

    I am that new mom and I really needed to read this tonight, thank you. I do cringe every time someone passes that advice in one ear, through my fried, tired brain, and out the other. But I know the truth in their words. Thank you for making me feel less guilty about missing some of my son’s magical, fleeting moments. I figure if I can go to sleep at night remembering at least one thing he did to take my breath away (whether it be his smile or his loaded diaper), I’ve had a decent day.

    Now, off to vote!

    Reply
  5. shelly

    just wanted to say thank you for the honest telling about motherhood, it’s rarely heard and so very much needed. looking forward to discovering your beautiful blog and to finding comfort in knowing i’m not the only one who sometimes wants to quit her job… (but oh those thighs! and elbow dimples!)

    Reply
  6. Ronda

    These cookies look delightful. I love anything caramel and chocolate these will be going into the line up for me to try. Congrats on the nomination.

    Reply
  7. Issyb

    Such a brilliant piece. You describe the experience so precisely. It’s so tough and wearing at times but so immensely beautiful, hysterical and heart warming the next. Love catching my 4 year old sitting under the table with chocolate around his mouth and a mischievous grin after stealing my home baked delights. Love the blog. Will vote!
    P.s made your grannys rhubarb cake . Delicious. Going to have to be a regular fixture during rhubarb season. It’s so important to cherish and pass on these family recipes. X

    Reply
  8. Deirdre Parker

    Loved your post. My children are now 17 and 18 and I remember the well intentioned comments of strangers about what a special time it is when they are young. I always thought, “are you kidding me?” Do you remember the day to day endlesss work of it all?

    But, time passes, they grow and I can say with confidence, that the exhaustion you have when they are babies does not really let up, it just changes from a less physically demanding role, to a more emotional one.

    My children are growing into fine young adults but they still need me from time to time and I am so glad to have had the privilege of being their mom..

    Reply
  9. Michelle

    I’ve just popped over from With Style and Grace and feel so blessed that I did! Thank you for so beautifully articulating the joy and struggle that is parenthood. Your story brought on that teary reflection that helps me remember we aren’t alone. I’ll be sharing it with all of my friends :)

    Reply
  10. alex

    Ashley, thanks for such a sweet (and tasty) post. I’m sitting here with only about 2 weeks left in my pregnancy and I will take your advice…I love this

    Reply
  11. Amy Jane (Untangling Tales)

    I had 3 children in <3.5 years.

    I got very tired of the "enjoy it now" advice. The one that broke through– the one that I hold even now (when I recognize my own advice-giving is from my urge to prove I'm still relevant)– was the aunt who emailed, "These are the memories you will cherish."

    And that says it perfectly to me.

    Maybe it's because my kids will still snuggle, or maybe it's because I'm not a "playful" mom, but my oldest is nine and I'm still not missing the babyness that is gone. I remember it (vividly so far) and am glad to be at the memory stage, rather than the draining.

    I do cherish those memories. I'm thankful to have lived that experience. And I don't miss it– I have too much learning and surviving I'm still doing now. (Maybe in 20 years…?)

    Reply
  12. SHIRI

    Thank you for this recipe
    I made the cookies and it was very tasty
    mine came out very puffy maybe it should be less than 2 teaspoons baking powder?

    Reply
  13. arry

    your talk of mothering touched me. and then i saw your picture of the old recipe box and my heart caught. see, that is the exact same box I have of my mom’s, with all her treasured, hand written recipes in it. she was my best friend but i lost her in ’95. not a day goes by that i don’t miss her. she tried so hard to get me interested in cooking but i wasn’t interested. now, years later, how i wish i could share the joy i’ve experienced during my forays into culinary fun & experimentation. so thank you. for the reminder that she is never gone. i will never part with her recipe box. it is a treasure, just as is the gift of motherhood she shared with me.

    Reply
  14. Susan, mom of two bugs

    I have ever posted a comment on a blog before but your post struck “that” note…you know, the one that says, “ahhh…someone actually has experienced the same emotions, the feeling twixed and in-between, the at-once reveling in your baby’s perfectness, while seeing yourself, the one you took years to nurture and become whole, by education, career-building and home building, slowly disappear – all for this “greater” calling! And, it is, indeed, a greater calling, but not without impatience and frustrations along the way. That is where the chocolate chip cookie falls perfectly into place. The kitchen gives me some peace – although it would be nice if I couldn’t hear the Wii in the background! Curse the creator of open-concept kitchens! :) and it allows me to show my immense, undying love for my two bugs even as they grow too big for cuddles or prefer to stay upstairs with their Legos. Thank you for encapsulating these beautiful moments in every Moms lives AND giving us a little corner in our day where we can sit back and retreat to your beautiful blog.

    Reply
  15. Sonia

    I just made these cookies over the weekend and I have to tell you, they are fantastic! perfect softness and delicious taste. a hit with all my friends. I have to be honest, I couldn’t really taste the caramel, but I think that is because i didn’t heat/melt the brown sugar enough-

    instead, I will tell you that this is the best/ tastiest chocolate chip cookie recipe I’ve ever used and will be a regular!

    Reply
  16. Amanda

    These are baking in my oven right now… and smell delicious. Can’t wait to try one!

    Reply
  17. Lilly

    I read this tonight, tough day with my kids (2 and 5). I am pregnant with my third. I try every day to enjoy them and I ask for wisdom so I can face every day challenge and remember myself that every problem or difficulty is a part of their personalities that struggles to fit in this world, as we all life struggle. Thanks for your post.

    Reply
  18. Andrea

    What an exercise in futility. I attempted to make these for a work potluck and never making caramel before, the sugar turned into a solid block of candy. I think the concept is good, it just needs more direct, hand holding in the directions for the cooking challenged. I’ll attempt it again when I have more time to play around with the melting sugar part.

    Reply
  19. lulu

    Thank you for this amazing recipe :) I did it today and it turns out amazing.But i had one problem, when i chew the cookie i felt the sugar crunch so it didn’t dissolve. How can i avoid this problem ?
    When i mix the sugar with the butter i did exactly what you said but the mix crumbled.

    Reply
    • Ashley Rodriguez

      It sounds like the sugar crystalized. I’m not sure where/when it happened but for a number of reasons sugar can crystallize and then it crumbles just like you mentioned.

      Reply
  20. Rusydi Rosli

    Dear Mrs Ashley I am so happy and thankful of this recipe,it was my first time making cookie and i chose a quite difficult recipe as i was totally afraid of the sugar dissolving part. I go against my fear and do it because it was for my best friend birthday. It was totally perfect and the cookie was not only by my best friend but also my family who got to try! Thank you,Mrs Ashley and I hope you create more recipe! THANK YOU! Rusydi,18 years old,Singapore

    Reply
  21. Sarah

    followed the recipe to the T but my cookies looked nothing like yours! :(
    I rolled them into balls (1 tbsp of dough ish) but am thinking that prevents them from spreading into a nice disc. I got domes. Also, maybe could use less than 2 tsp of baking powder? It tasted pretty bready and not chewy. They looked like thicker, breadier versions of famous amos cookies. Pretty awful.

    Please help! what am I doing wrong?

    Reply
    • Ashley Rodriguez

      Sarah, I’m so sorry they didn’t work. It’s hard to say what went wrong as it seems like you did everything beautifully but there are so many factors at play here. Because these cookies start with a caramel that is quite tricky. Do you have a picture you can send me? Feel free to email me directly at ashley@notwithoutsalt.com Thanks! Sorry, again.

      Reply

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