Random recipe: Ned Ludd’s Skillet Cookie

As a kid going out to pizza was a big deal in my house. Usually the luxury was bestowed upon us by my grandma. She treated us when we were at her house and she did not want to cook, or when we begged her for pizza. I was more a fan of thick crust pizza, but when my sister, grandma, and I were together, they usually beat my choice which meant we had Pizza King. Known for their thin crust Pizza (and locations only in Indiana), it was the default quick and easy meal, and a luxury to us kids. The pizza was fine to me (although I have craved it in the past few years) but my favorites were the breadsticks, and if I was very lucky the massive chocolate chip cookie. It was the size of an 8 or 10 inch pizza.

Since Chris loves cookies of most kinds (sans snickerdoodles and sugar cookies) I am always on the lookout for a new cookie recipe. This one was a bit different as it is one big cookie in a skillet (just like my childhood Pizza King cookie, only much thicker).

Before

Before

Ned Ludd’s Skillet Cookie
(Published in Portland Monthly Magazine, December 2014)

1 cup plus 2 tbsp all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp baking soda
1 stick unsalted butter, at room temperature
1/2 cup white sugar
1/2 cup dark brown sugar
1 large egg
1/4 tsp salt
1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup 75-percent cacao dark chocolate wafers
Flake salt for finishing
10-inch cast-iron skillet

MAKE THE DOUGH
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. In a bowl whisk together flour and baking soda, and set aside. In a standing mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, beat butter and sugar on medium speed until well combined, about 3 minutes. Scrape down the sides of the bowl, add the egg, salt, and vanilla extract, and continue beating until combined. Add flour-soda combo mix until just incorporated. Using a spatula, fold in chocolate wafers.

After

After

BAKE THE COOKIE
Flatten the dough inside a 10-inch skillet. Bake for around 30 minutes, or until the center is just set. To simulate Ned Ludd’s blackened, bitter crust, turn the broiler on and cook a minute or two longer, taking care not to burn the top completely. Remove from oven and sprinkle with flake salt. Serve with a small glass of milk, or pour milk right over the top while the cookie’s still hot and watch it sizzle.

Makes one 10-inch cookie.

It is delicious. If you like a crispy thin cookie this will not be your thing, but if you like a crispy outside and soft, almost cake-like inside this just might hit the spot. We ate it for a few days, and I have to say that warming it and pouring the milk, half and half, or heavy cream on top is a must. There is something about the cookie with the flake salt, and the cold cream mixture that makes a mouthful of flavors.

Passing Notes on a Date

Usually when Chris and I have the time to go out on a date, I am not at a loss for words. The last time we went out for dinner, just the two of us, was before New Years and we were annoyed by the guests sitting next to us. Since then our dates have been over weekend brunch, which is often our weekly date. Either way we always have lots to talk about, and there is never a lull of communication between us. So when I read this idea in the book: “The Art of Asking: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Let People Help” by Amanda Palmer I thought I wonder if I could pull this off?

“One night in a candlelit restaurant in San Francisco, shortly after we got married, I asked Neil if we could just write each other notes during the whole meal. In real time, like texting, but with pens and paper. The waiter thought we were slightly strange, but by the end of the meal we’d shared a degree of intimate information that we probably wouldn’t have if we’d just been sitting there chatting. And we could illustrate our points with pie charts and cartoons. And we really enjoyed our food, because we weren’t literally talking through it. The couple next to us asked what we were doing, and when we told them, they ordered a pad of paper and two pens from the waiter.” Page 39

Interesting isn’t it? What if we were quiet and poised, and did not go on and on in our verbal communication, but rather made the date a written experience? As someone who writes and documents the world, and tracks life moments in a calendar, I can see how interesting it would be to look back many months later and see what communication we had during our date. It also makes me think that there would possibly be less miscommunication since it is all done in written form. Maybe we need to communicate more often in writing? Like the lost art of letter writing.

I would like to try it. I am sure those that are dining nearby might think that there is something odd about our interaction. I can remember when we were on our honeymoon many years ago and most of the other couples that were on their honeymoon would sit together and not talk or interact (so very strange to me). Based on that I am always aware of watching other couples in a restaurant to find out if they talk, or if they just sit there and eat and stare at each other.

Chris will you try writing notes on a date with me?

Your energy footprint

Maybe it was all those years I was a Girl Scout, or all the times I played in the back of the room during my brother’s Boy Scout meetings, or maybe all the Boy Scout camping trips I had to tag along on, but I have a strong inclination to leave a place better than I found it. Growing up I thought about it in the way of cleaning up after yourself, but over time that evolved to the energy you leave behind. I have frequently shared excerpts from the “Daily Om” newsletter I receive, and this one particularly resonated with me in regards to your energy footprint. It is from the Daily Om titled: “Blessing Space: Leaving a Positive Footprint.”

“Physical space acts like a sponge, absorbing the radiant of all who pass through it. And, more likely than not, the spaces we move through each day have seen many people come and go. We have no way of knowing whether the energy footprints left behind by those who preceded us will invigorate us or drain us. Yet we can control the energy footprint we leave behind for others. In blessing each space we enter, we orchestrate a subtle energy shift that affects not only our own experiences in that space but also the experiences of the individuals who will enter the space after us. While we may never see the effects our blessing has had, we can take comfort in the fact that we have provided grace for those that follow after us.”

Whether or not we leave a blessing matters, but so does what we leave behind. Toxic is the word I often use for certain people who suck the life out of a room, or the atmosphere. Their energy footprint drags you down, takes the life out of a situation, and often zap your energy. How we approach a situation, and how we manage our energy matters in every situation. There are times when I have to adjust the energy I exude because my intuition tells me that calmness and poise is more needed in the moment then my spewing energy. As the Daily Om states, we often never know how our energy affects the space, but we can know if we go into each moment being conscious of how best to handle the situation we are usually on the right track to bless rather than damage the energy flow.

Are you aware of what energy you bring to the moments of your day?

Annoying loud dates next to you.

The last few times that Chris and I have gone out to eat (whether at a nice restaurant or a quick happy hour), the party sitting next to us has been obnoxious. Usually what happens is we are sitting there enjoying our dinner and partway through a new party sits next to us. At first it is fine. It is like a blind date, you are not sure what to expect. Will they be soft-spoken or annoy the crap out of you?

Lately, they have annoyed the crap out of me. Mostly when they are loud. I do not need to hear your life story. For example, just before the New Year, we went out to one of our favorite restaurants and partway through a man and woman came and sat right next to us (yet there were other open tables). The woman was obnoxious (to say the least). We could not help but listen to their conversation as it was so loud we could barely hear each other talk. I thought it was the strangest date. She seemed much older than the man she was with and he kept saying, “No, eat what you want. I am not hungry.” Which made me think maybe he could not afford dinner? At the very last minutes before they leave we learn that he is the son, and she is the mom. Wow. Very shocked after hearing so much of their conversation, and yet putting all the pieces together it actually made sense.

Another time, a few months ago, we had an amazing night out. The food was great, but the group that sat next to us near the end of the meal was beyond rude. Gratefully, we were almost done with dessert and, as soon as we could pay, we got the hell out of there. If they had not shown up we might have stayed a while longer. We did not let it ruin our evening, but I sure cannot forget the high-pitched sound of that woman on her birthday.

I do often wonder how much self-knowledge people have about themselves. I know at times alcohol can play a part in the volume of someone’s voice, yet sometimes I think that people are just all around obnoxious. They have no knowledge that they are yelling and that other restaurant guests around them are giving them death looks. The hard part for me is that all I want to do is go off on them, but what good would that do? If I was not so frustrated I might actually say with poise: “Could you keep it down, I am sitting two feet from my husband and I cannot hear him, yet I know all about the amount of wine you drank at your book club last night and how much your friend hates his brother. However, I cannot hear my husband as we brainstorm about redoing our backyard.”

If we could only be more aware of our surroundings, those around us, and how we show up in the world. Ah, what we learn from the parties that sit next to us in a restaurant… never a dull moment.

The voice inside of you…

I have always been a fan of Shel Silverstein.

Little did I know as a kid that Sarah Cynthia Sylvia Stout was a hoarder, but somehow she scared me enough to take the garbage out. Even when taking the garbage out at our house meant opening up a peach colored wooden long trunk outside our maintenance shed that sometimes was home to raccoons. If you were not careful when you took the garbage out and you opened the lid you would see two eyes and grey, black, and white fur looking back at you. Who knew taking the garbage out was such a scary thing.

So when I was reminded the other day of the poem: “The Voice” by Shel Silverstein it brought back memories:

The Voice

There is a voice inside of you
That whispers all day long,
“I feel this is right for me,
I know that this is wrong.”
No teacher, preacher, parent, friend
Or wise man can decide
What’s right for you–just listen to
The voice that speaks inside.

I only wish it was more popular to little children (girls especially). We all should teach kids early on how to listen to their own voice, so it does not take them so long to find it. It took me until I was in my early twenties in college. If I had parents, teachers, and family find unique ways to teach me that no one can decide what is right for me, I might have found that strong voice earlier.

Just as it might be hard for adults to continue to find their voice, it can be even harder for kids (but it does not have to be). We all need to listen more. We need to be quiet more. The voice inside you is there.