Chocolate Chip Cookie Secrets

I have four chocolate chip cookie secrets I want to share with you. I can’t tell you how many times people have asked, “Why are your chocolate chip cookies so good?” Then I tell them about many moons ago when I bought a cookie from the Mrs. Fields cookie store at the old Southglenn Mall.

chocolate chip cookies cooling on counter

It had to have been around 1989 or so. It was so good. A tad crunchy on the outside and soft on the inside. It wasn’t gooey on the inside. I don’t like gooey. But it was soft. And the cookie was rather plump, not flat. So I asked. “What makes these cookies so good?” The young gal on the other side of the counter told me the secret…four secrets actually. What generosity! What kindness.

Secret #1: Follow the Nestle toll house cookie recipe, except add 1/4 cup more flour. Be sure your flour is pressed into the measuring cups.

Secret #2: Be sure to use softened (but not too much so) Real unsalted butter and then truly cream it with the sugars. Don’t be in a hurry with this.

Secret #3: Chill the dough really well in the fridge, until the ball is almost hard.

Secret #4: Bake the cookies about 9-10 minutes until they are just starting to brown. And THEN…..drum roll please…

Take them immediately off the pan and cool on the counter.

“Cool on the counter?”

“Yes, on the counter,” she said.  “It traps in the moisture. Trust me. It makes a big difference.”

You probably already make great chocolate chip cookies. But in case you needed a little help? You’re welcome.

FREE Seed Catalogs

Free seed catalogs? Oh yes! It’s the time of year when the ground is frozen and we wonder if anything will grow again. This is a perfect time for me to share with you my list of FREE (and great) seed catalogs — ones that are in print form…ones you can write in, mark up, dream over. There is nothing like holding a seed catalog in your hand in the dead of winter.  Even if you can only order one or two packs,

Not At My Best

I have heard it said that I should not attempt to do things when I am not at my best.  Apparently if I am not at my best, I will make too many mistakes. I have even heard it implied that if I am not at my best, I might sin. Thus, I should wait to engage until I have a better chance to avoid sin. But the problem for me is that I’m not sure I have ever been at my best. And honestly, what does “at my best” even mean?

Rating chart

Does it mean I have to be EXCELLENT in all that I do? Or maybe it means I have to be totally awesome (a word that has little meaning anymore).

Does being at my best mean that I have to address all my potential limitations, thus limiting all liabilities?

If being at my best means being totally awesome, or perfect, or in a zone where my limitations are completely diminished, then I’m toast. Why? I’m simply NEVER in that zone.

All this could make me not want to show up to life. But I would never offer the hand of love. Why? 

The Words

My mother still knows the meaning of the words she hears. This is true even in the mid to late stage 5 of her Alzheimer’s journey.  Thus, on a certain Sunday morning, she was gripped by the words she heard. A song she had never listened to prior to this particular morning.

elderly worshipping

Here is a very short entry from my journal I’d like to share with you.

Crispy Tender Pork Carnitas

If you have ever eaten AMAZING pork carnitas they were probably cooked in a large vat of lard. But I bet you don’t have, nor do you want to use, a vat of lard. This recipe, created by my personal chef, avoids lard but does use a bit of bacon fat. Just a bit. And oh my, that “just a bit” keeps it on the side of healthy but takes it to a place that makes you want to sing.


There are some diverse ingredients added to this pork dish….

Dwelling Upon Endless Miracles

The culture in the West has messed with some beautiful words: extraordinary, spectacular, miracles, awesome. This list could go on. Some think we should stop using these words. Apparently they are so overused that they are no longer useful. For example, we shouldn’t use the word spectacular unless we can describe the elements that make it so. We shouldn’t say something is “awesome” and stop. We should go on and describe the actual qualities that makes it so awesome.

fall crocus coming up amongst fallen leaves

Part of me disagrees with this all this. It appears far too cynical for my “joyful bent.” And yet, I do love words. And words convey meaning. And if we throw words around, we can lose so much.

Faithful is another one of those words. “God is so faithful.” I hear this A LOT. Or anger about the lack thereof. “Where is God when you need him? I’m losing my home due to years of unemployment!”

Faithful, faithfully. These words are drowning in a puddle of overuse.

Colorado Hardiness Zone Map

Plant Maps

If you want a plant that comes up every year (called a perennial) you have to pay attention to the hardiness zone you are in.  After reading here, click on the link above.  This will take you to a great zone map.

Some plants sold in our Colorado gardening centers will have the zone marked, others will not. If the plant is marked with the name but not the zone, look the name up on the internet to find out in which zone it grows as a perennial.  If the plants says it is for zones 6 and higher, know that it WON’T come up again here in the front range of Colorado. I do grow some of these plants. Some I bring in during the winter, others I just let die and buy again in the spring

Point is this: know your zone. And, know that not all gardening centers mark all their plants. I learned this the hard way with lavender, learning that only a couple varieties come up every year here in Colorado.