c*devotchka

having my Cake, eating it – and not counting every last calorie

we are exactly the same and vastly different January 26, 2007

Filed under: Uncategorized — c*devotchka @ 4:30 am
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9000 seconds ago (i love calculators), i was patting myself on my back because i was yawning. finally, my biological clock will be reversed! finally, i can wake up at 0700 because that bird with a sore throat is squawking happily! finally, i can revise French by the pool and watch roadrage in action from the roof!

but no. i go ahead and pick up this book that Ravi had woken up earlier one Saturday in Singapore just to get for me from Borders (i strongly believe in the conspiratorial idea that books in Dubai are a mafia-run business designed to extort exorbitant amounts of moolah from hapless and helpless poor nerds whose hands won’t stop shaking till they get their next fix).

I Feel Bad About My Neck

if you are not me, which you most probably aren’t, you’d finish this book within 2 hours or less. but because i was cared for by a maid in a dual-income household led by an domineering father (whose initials A.H. can be compared with the terror that accompanied another tyrant in history with the same initials), and was strictly forbidden to fraternize with the other kids at the playground (or even go to the playground), i tend to talk to my books.

yes, full conversations with my books.

yes, i don’t speed-read. and i still cannot believe in it even after forking out money which could have been better spent on movies and Gary Barlow posters than on Tony Buzan’s Speed Reading courses, and a jostle with other bespectacled, drooling kids desperate for an autograph that will fetch, after inflation, maybe $1.59 in 100 years. i like to read my books in an intimate manner, like the voice in my head belongs to someone sitting across me at an al fresco café in Paris who doesn’t mind spending a part of his life telling me a story.

at first, i thought the book would be about age, being old, whether it’s great or mortifying – hence alienating me like Vernon Boring Little did. but then again, this is the chick who wrote Silkwood and When Harry Met Sally. and hey, Nora Ephron’s 60+ and learning more about the next 40 years of my life in 2 hours sounded like a great deal. by the time i got to the 2nd line of the 1st page, i was sold.

this is one of those books which made me realise how fortunate i am that i am at home, reading this book in the privacy of my underwear and that persistent itch on my clavicle. if i were on a subway or up at the pool, people would think i’m a loony bin who will start waving about a prepared tampon for insertion in the air like it was a Lily of Death after i stop laughing hysterically out loud. again. and again. and again. and again.

Nora Ephron reminds me why i have not yet succumbed to occasional homicidal or suicidal thoughts. because after i’ve thrown mug after mug on the floor or buried my head with my ass in the air into the corner of the sofa like an endomorphic ostrich does, i tell myself, “you’re gonna laugh about this eventually” or “it’s gonna be alright, dali” even when i am still fuming or my cheeks are freshly glistening with tears.

she proves that yes, it is true: you will laugh about it and it will be alright.

i have not loved a book this much since reading Carlos Ruiz Zafón’s The Shadow of the Wind 18 months back. in fact, i have a good mind to give this to the girlfriends i’d donate part of my liver to, the ones i call the Spiked Paddles of My Life.

Nora Ephron writes so candidly, casually, realistically and simply that you feel she isn’t just a voice in your head at an al fresco café in Paris, she is sitting there with you in one of her 57 black turtlenecks that cover the neck she feels so bad about. it’s not an autobiography but you feel like you’re reading the first line of every page of her life diary because she wants you to. because she needs to say it, and because somehow she knows that we need to hear it.

24, 42 or 60, disgustingly rich or irrevocably stuck in middle class, fat or thin, organised or a complete sloth – we’ll probably reread this book to keep us sane, especially since it is such a quick, enjoyable read.

but like foie gras, it’s gone too soon and you are left staring at the plate. i actually caught myself staring at the back of the closed book, nodding to myself after the Little Death that is The End of The Book.

i have the urge to write to her and tell her Thank You, like she wanted to write to all the writers she loves. but i won’t, like she didn’t – like you would also think of, but won’t (or i might be severely underestimating you).

instead, i’ll go ahead living my life and buy a few more of her books to read in the privacy of my cellulite and armpit stubble.

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because veracity is still a prized virtue January 24, 2007

Filed under: Uncategorized — c*devotchka @ 11:21 pm
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finally, after almost a year, i’ve stepped foot into a gym. we have two gyms in the building, one for Ladies Only. i love chivalry (or sexism, whichever end of the see-saw you sit on). unfortunately, no elliptical machines gentle on my arthritic knees in sight, so i briskwalked on the treadmill for an hour. Ladies Only has more television sets (7) than it does machines, but all the machines available were new-ish and all that one needs to keep fit. 75sqm all to myself while there were 5 men and 2 women in the other gym! i love the Middle East.

today, i find that the word “friend” has been whored and corrupted by confused people, superficial halfwits and name-droppers. for me, the word “friend” is synonymous with love, honour (fine, call me archaic) and veracity. i do occasionally refer to those i view as acquaintances as “yeah, she’s a friend” if i don’t mind lending her $100 i might never see again. it’s just the way the world is today.

i value my friends. and by this, i mean i deeply love, respect and adore few people in my life who aren’t blood related or forced into marriage with me. i’m a Taurus, but i’d like to think of my fidelity and fierce love towards my friends more as the inevitable culmination of years of learning through the evolution of hundreds of friendships and acquaintancerafts, rather than a byproduct of the alignment of planetary bodies in the galaxy during the exact second i shot out of Momma’s cervix.

i  know, and am hence extremely lucky, that the love, trust and respect are mutual between us. that we’ve allowed ourselves to say “i love you” (much to the worry of Ravi who thinks i’m gonna leave him one day for a lesbian Monica Belluci lookalike) and that there is little need to mention the obvious about most of the subjects we talk of – “that this stays between the two of us”.

but most importantly, it’s the startling honesty and candour between us that i treasure. whether we’re comparing the colour and texture of our stool or making our stand/s clear on religion, global warming or politics, i know that i can count on my tight circle of friends to give me enough personal space to grow without jealousy, mockery or obstructionism, or to wag a finger at me before i make/repeat mistakes i’d regret.

i’d mentioned once to a friend who was bitching about an acquaintance who didn’t know better despite the glaring circumstances she was in, that i hope to God that the people i love will slap me on my wrist if i were so stupid, ignorant, blind or worse, arrogant. i strongly believe that if we love someone, we’d want the best for him, that we’d share part of ourselves so he can climb and it should be accorded back in return.

i do not count sycophants as my friends. or ridiculous (hilarious, from my point of view) people who constantly engage in meaningless (one-sided) duels of oneupmanship. or people who need you in their lives so you can lick their wounds for them constantly – they don’t really want your advice, they just want to feel good/better about themselves and need you to kiss their ass or they simply cannot exist nu-uh. you cannot be friends with one who is unable or refuses to open up one’s heart to possibilities or pain. and not especially those who cannot hear the truth about themselves.

i don’t get it.

don’t you want to better yourself, elevate your consciousness to a higher level so you can achieve (hence contributing) more? i thought it was simple mathematics.

you know those people who are afraid to hold a mirror to themselves? or worse, look in the mirror and are delusional? or those who desperately need advice, then reject it? and you get the sense that when you break something gently to them about a part of themselves that needs to be relooked, that they are wee-wee-weeeing like squealing pigs all the way home?

they, i don’t get.

because from what i know, there is a difference between a critical judgment as an attack and a nudge from someone who loves you enough to tell you the truth.

i know for sure that i prefer the S&M friendship than one where wound-licking detrimental to self-reflection or betterment is the highlight of the day.

and boy am i grateful for the spiked paddles in my life.

 

nesting January 22, 2007

Filed under: Uncategorized — c*devotchka @ 5:48 pm
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i love wallpaper, wall decals and now, wall graffiti. i’m one of those people who loves soaking glass bottles/jars, peeling labels off, then reusing them. am also a very boring person who likes to label everything in preferably the same font (but in different sizes), and i hate those ugly sticker labels (p-touch?) that we used liberally in school to declare This Pencilcase Is Mine, Touch It and I Will Poke Your Eyeballs Out With My 2B Staedtler.

with Wonderful Graffiti, i can label all my glass bottles and containers beautifully and homogeneously, even make custom decals! but my favourite’s their fridge graffiti:

Wonderful Graffiti - Hello, Big Butt

Wonderful Graffiti - What, You Again?

if What, You Again? lights up each time i approach the fridge, it’ll peel off in decal suicide after just one month.

i have all kinds of ideas for the house we’ll move into in 2009 (no typo error there). i’m too stingy to decorate houses we rent and would probably cry each time i peel off a removable decal that cannot be reused. i envisage a vintage signboard over our kitchen entrance, 3D wallpaper on parts of our walls which would be impossible to maintain, a decal here and there, glass mosaic tiles, a hand-painted mural in the corner, cat-proof furniture (for that cat i will eventually successfully have) and photos, photos, photos everywhere!

my Firefox bookmark folder “Good Designs + Designed Goods” ‘s so long, it’ll probably take me as long to go through all of them as it will the construction company to build our home. our very, very small but hopefully cosy home.

i teeter on orgasmic edge just imagining home projects i can embark on before we move in, how we could then tear apart some of our current Ikea pieces and post pics of them on ikeahacker.

i fell asleep on the couch at about 0600 watching The History Channel, last i remember was watching a program about ships that go *poof* mysteriously, then reappear without their crew. the first night without Ravi is always the hardest, my mind goes into overdrive and i imagine all kinds of ridiculous monsters under the couch, behind the curtains, inside the oven and even the waterborne ones who are waiting to pull me butt-first from the potty and into the Underground World of Excrete Monsters.

i haven’t grown up much.

i know it’s illogical, but i really cannot stop myself. trying to stop it is even harder because the monsters grow more vicious in my wayward head. sleeping in the dark is out of the question when Ravi isn’t home.

when Ravi’s at home, i get backaches cos he’s a crab in bed, he moves sideways, and usually to my side, leaving me about 5 inches of breathing and moving space. until i kick or push him away. when he isn’t at home, i cannot sleep well because one light is left switched on, i sleep after sunrise, my upstairs neighbour loves rearranging chairs and dropping things, the next door neighbour wakes up to booming techno music and then, and then there are those honking morons who think tap-tap honking for every little petty thing is more effective than just one (necessary) honk.

and i actually thought closing the windows would work. after i wake up, i usually feel so drained because waking up each time someone drags a chair, whistles to Ace of Base or tap-tap honks downstairs can be very exhausting. a month ago, i’d have wanted to bake cookies for the neighbours, but 2007 brings with it new chair-dragging, techno junkie neighbours whom i am still warming up to.

Intan brought my attention to one of Nigella Lawson’s delish dessert recipes. oh, she hot. she daaamn hawt. but i’m not gonna bake with nobody to feed at home. last night, after watching The Biggest Loser, i thought to myself that tomorrow (today) would be The Day I Step Foot Into That Dark, Dark Gym upstairs. oh, i will. after i’ve gone through Tastespotting.

 

as i try to keep my penthouse lids open January 21, 2007

Filed under: Uncategorized — c*devotchka @ 8:53 pm
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the house is a complete nightmare at the moment.

  • that mount of laundry has warmed the same spot on the sofa for five weeks. i hate folding and ironing clothes almost as much as skipping or running on a treadmill. fold the right in, sleeve at an angle, the left in, sleeve at an angle, bottom up, halve it again, then again, and again, and again. if i fold enough clothes, i’d be hypnotised into engaging myself in a monologue of past misdemeanours.
  • the ironing board is out so Ravi has uncreased clothes to wear in Abu Dhabi.
  • the wire stand is at the window so our clothes would dry in crisp, fresh air.
  • Ravi left today, also part of the reason why the house is in a post-typhoon state. packed one bag, tad too small, packed a perfect sized bag, it won’t close, dug another bag out of the store which just happened to be under 5 other bags which were stacked below the empty boxes of the kettle, the stand mixer and the rice cooker. now there are two open luggage bags on the living room floor.
  • coupled with the rubbish i had to throw out onto the floor from all three luggage bags that Ravi tends to forget about each time he leaves another city, the floor just looks like a mangled mess.
  • it’s a degree or two colder today, so cosy that i just cannot move from this chair. and if i do move, it’s to the sofa with my feet under the laundry. this and having slept 4-5 hours almost daily the past week, i am really, really drowsy. can’t.move.to.clean.

then i got really hungry. am so lazy, i was ready to starve myself instead of moving my ass to the kitchen. then for some reason, as i was holding my favourite toxic Maggi Curry noodles in one hand and switching on the kettle with the other, i had a lightbulb moment and decided to eat real food.

smashed garlic, bird’s eye chillies, prawns, broccoli, beef stock, cream, basil, salt, kaffir lime leaf, parmesan cheese to thicken. organic spaghetti with a thin hole running through each strand, made me feel like i was sucking straws half the time. the entire pack was in Italian. for all i know, it said “Holes in Spaghetti! So You’ll Feel Full Faster! Eat Lesser! Buy Lesser Pasta Packed in Plastic! Kill Fewer Penguins! Yahoo! Bon Giorno!”.

the only thing i understood was “Bio”.

Dinner - pasta 220107

over and out, y’all. i need to tuck my feet under the laundry and watch Boston Legal.

 

pop this walkin blimp, please January 20, 2007

Filed under: Uncategorized — c*devotchka @ 11:29 pm
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– following post is not for those weak of stomach/constitution –

started out like any other day,

opened the fridge; hung the clothes; opened the fridge; daily poop; checked my mails; then holyfuckenshit, what is this killmekillmekillme unfuckenbelievable pain?!

happily chatting on MSN one moment, then seized with pain the next. like i’d suddenly ingested a mouthless Hello Kitty helium balloon that self-inflates and it was screaming to explode in my abdomen or crawl out through my navel, whiskers first.

and i hadn’t even eaten breakfast, i was just thinkin’ it. suddenly just thinking of breakfast made the pain worse.

i stood from the chair. at least i tried to, and found myself crouched towards the table squinting in pain, like transferrence of pain from bowels to eyelids actually works.

“do we need to poop, dali? yes, maybe that’s what we should do, poop.”

i groped my way to the bathroom to poop. what came out qualified more as a spurt of ambitious, airy poot! than a low, growling pooooop. to say i was disappointed is an understated understatement. i spent the next 3 iTunes songs on the potty and thought about how people die unglamorously on potties, how would they find me? half slumped over the tub next to the potty with my ass at a 45 degree angle to the toilet seat with pooooop hanging precariously close to an imminent 18cm drop?

i didn’t make it back to the mac, i grabbed my bathrobe and laid foetal on the couch and groaned. and groaned. and groaned. then i tried not to groan.

groaned. groaned. groaned.

i’ve had menstrual cramps only once or twice in my life, and the occasional steady stream of farts from overeating or lactose intolerance, but i’d never, ever woken up the next day with a cramp so tight i felt i’d break my back if i stood up straight, so debilitating i could only lay crouched on my side, croak, cry and groan. i couldn’t even stand up to boil water for the hot water bottle or look for my favourite Eagle Brand medicated oil. i called Ravi and asked that he come home for an hour.

what does he do the first thing he comes home? lifts my bathrobe and asks cheekily, “naked, eh?”

not surprising for someone who, the night before, refused to remove his hand from between my buttcheeks “because it’s warm”.

a hotwater bottle, some rubbed oil, 2 cookies and half an hour later, i could straighten my legs.

“come on, get up, let’s go to the doctor.”

“and tell him what? i think i have gas, but i don’t know, and it just won’t expel? i feel constipated but there’s nothing and the pain got worse after i pooped?”

“i think you overate last night.”

but i’m Dali bint Overeaden and i don’t get cramps from 1 1/2 plates of nasi lemak, 1/2 a plate of nasi goreng ikan bilis, 3 chicken wings, a large volume of sambal and 5 giant cookies. i’m made to withstand twice that much food and the guilt that needs to be washed down thereafter.

another half an hour and i told Ravi he could go back to the office, that i felt fine enough to stand bent over and do basic stuff like getting myself a glass of water and butter mints.

i didn’t feel like pooping but decided to sit on the potty 2 hours later, hoping a chair with a hole would do something, anything. i got my pooooop wish without trying but it hurt to high hell although they weren’t Jawbreakers or marbles. finally felt a lot better half an hour after that. looked through the Internet to understand abdominal/intestinal gas and to find out if that was what i was suffering from.

but what do i find instead?

that some shipments (into USA) of my favourite Eagle Brand medicated oil were halted because they contained 12% chloroform. chloroform, that which is used in some refrigerants, that which causes birth defects, that which causes abnormal sperm, that which causes Sudden Sniffer Death (very disconcerting considering the fact that we love sniffing our medicated oils) and that which is a known carcinogen.

also that which 80s kidnapping movies portray to be The Chemical of Choice to knock potential victims out cold.

0.12%, i might shut an eye, 1.12%, i still might but 12% of an entire bottle? and worse, if you connect some dots, are possibly produced by the original company in Singapore?

does this happen in Singapore? can something like this happen in Singapore?

i look at the back of my Eagle bottle and notice that it only states Active Ingredients as Menthol 28.5%, Methyl Salicylate 18.6%, Eucalyptus Oil 1.56%.

what happened to the other 51.34%, not very active are they? eucalyptus 1.56% mentioned, chloroform 12% not mentioned, poor thing.

Ravi casually mentioned that he had swallowed quite a lot of Axe oil as a child because it was yummy (he still drinks Gripe Water today). part of me wanted to scream “now i know whyyyyy” or “did you also drink the rat poison?”, even a potentially dangerous “where was your mother?!” but instead, i only managed “ARE YOU CRAZY? DOESN’T EXTERNAL USE MEAN DO NOT SWALLOW?”

and then he suggested “i have to send you to my mom, to toughen you up. we had biawak curry as kids.”

!

what was that again? biawak? did my husband just say kari beeee-aaaah-waaahk?

“doesn’t biawak mean … large lizard?”

“yeah, we used to catch them and my mom made curry.”

!

suddenly, Suddenly Sniffing (Chloroform Dali) didn’t sound as bad. but that doesn’t mean i’m not gonna send a mail to HSA and ask if Eagle oil found in Singapore is safer than the ‘foreign imports’ FDA mentioned.

why are there different formulations for different countries? is it OK to kill foreigners slowly but surely through hours of pleasurable inhalation (compounded by their aluminium pots and pans, obesity issues, stress related disorders, environmental carcinogens)?

i cannot pretend to know my chemicals (though at one point of time, i did memorise the table of elements because who can resist words like ferrum and plumbum?) or understand what Active Ingredients mean, but i’d like to know.

Active Ingredients: ingredients which directly bring on intended soothing effects or, Active Ingredients: the safer stuff you’d be more comfortable knowing about.

my mom, my grandparents, they’ve used Eagle for generations, and they’ve used it liberally. Mom and Nana are still alive and that’s why three days later, i am still using Eagle. it’s the one medicated oil that doesn’t make you smell like a walking Eucalyptus Tree or a SinSeh with ground ginseng powder in his armpits. it’s a good decongestant and smells good on your skin (because of the rose oil, i reckon) after the rubbing oil effects pass. i’m feeling better now, but i still have some discomfort which i’m sure some drops of Eagle Brand medicated oil, a few cookies, lots of water and mandarin oranges can soothe.

 

they. have arrived. January 17, 2007

Filed under: Uncategorized — c*devotchka @ 9:39 pm
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long after Ravi had started breathing slowly into my neck last night, i was thinking (and getting excited) about cooking nasi lemak (coconut rice) and nasi goreng ikan bilis (fried rice with anchovies) today. i finally dozed off at 0530.

nasi lemak, my comfort food. nasi goreng ikan bilis, Ravi’s comfort food, the one thing he can subsist on every single day. that, and a combination of Coke and Snickers would keep him happy for life. going by the informal survey i conducted of our (drunk and sweaty) mamak friends while we were dancing at Asoka back in Singapore a long time back, i’m sure half the mamaks out there can also survive solely on nasi goreng ikan bilis.

it was the first time cooking both, the nasi lemak isn’t as lemak as i’d have liked and the nasi goreng ikan bilis is a tad salty (not saltish, you freakazoids) but i’m betting Ravi won’t even realise – i’d developed low salt tolerance growing up with a mother with high blood pressure.

Nasi lemak

Nasi goreng ikan bilis

will refrigerate the nasi lemak and heat it up with an extra cup of coconut milk tomorrow.

i prance around braless at home, and whenever someone rings our doorbell, i frown.

being Asian (and Muslim) has long indoctrinated some kind of shame with regards to letting it all hang loose in public. to be a lady, one must be modest. humph.

it can get even more annoying when someone rings your doorbell just as you are frying/drying shrimp paste on the stove and trying not to choke on toxic fumes. belacan can really, really stink. and when half the people who ring your doorbell are door-to-door salesmen selling mostly pirated DVDs whispering “ma’am, wool ewe laik sum deeveedeez?”, you’d stop answering the door altogether.

usually, i’d open the door only if the person rings twice (unless you are that freak the other day who rang my doorbell 8 times, then knocked 5 times – get the hint, buster) cos there must be some urgency then, right? on another occasion, i was tempted to open the door to a Pinoy fella with a chef’s hat and neon orange apron, until it occured to me he might bash my brain in with a rolling pin. though, really, he was more likely to surprise me with curry puffs out of his apron pockets like a rabbit out of a hat.

so i threw my cardi on, saw it was one of our security guards, hid my ass in indecent shorts behind the door and unlocked the door. i was convinced he was gonna say, “madam, the neighbours are complaining about that very nasty smell emanating from your home” and i was ready to invite him in for some “delicious Indonesian fried rice that comes after that really nasty shrimp paste stench” but then i looked down and spotted this huge flatpacked item.

“eez theez youre naym?” he enquired.

“yes! yes! yes!” i jumped out from behind the door, jiggling boobies and indecent buttocks hanging loose for all to see, stood there for an extra five seconds bent over and did a crazy makarena jiggle.

no, i simply replied, “yes, it is, thank you very much.” and took the package in, carefully manouvering my body in such a way that my buttcheeks stayed out of plain view.

they are now here, where they belong, instead of some drain pipe somewhere or in a dusty corner of some inefficient post office. and they are breathtaking.

Kawasaki package

Kawasaki - Lydia 2

Kawasaki - Mia & Mai 2

i cannot, just cannot describe how !*^!~!!#$*%^$&!!!!, !!!!, !!!! i am feeling right now.

 

cookies aux pépites de chocolat

Filed under: Uncategorized — c*devotchka @ 3:02 am
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Domestic Goddesses are allowed to be snooty. and snotty (it’s getting colder) but at least my nose isn’t bleeding like it was when it first got colder.

to my delight, the oven didn’t fail and short-circuit midway. got the recipe somewhere off the net some time back, but i’ve lost the link now. i’ve always preferred crispy cookies, i think they have more personality. if not for semolina risk, i’d have eaten half the cookie dough.

Martha baby, step aside, i’m comin’ up.

Dropped cookie dough

Cookie jar

thin, crispy chocolate chip cookies

2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp kosher salt
1 tsp baking soda
1 egg
2 ounces/60ml milk (room temperature)
1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
2 sticks/226gm unsalted butter (room temperature)
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar
2 cups semisweet chocolate chips

1. heat oven to 375°F/190°C.

2. sift together flour, salt and baking soda in a bowl. combine egg, milk and vanilla extract in another bowl.

3. cream butter in the mixer work bowl at low speed to soften butter.

4. add sugars, increase speed and cream mixture till light and fluffy.

5. reduce speed and add egg mixture slowly. increase speed till mix is well combined.

6. slowly add flour mixture, scrape sides of bowl until thoroughly combined.

7. stir in chocolate chips.

8. scoop cookie dough onto parchment-lined baking sheets, 6 cookies per sheet, 2 inches apart from each other.

9. bake for 13-15 minutes, checking cookies after first five minutes and rotating baking sheet for even browning.

10. once baked, remove cookies from sheet immediately. cool. store in an airtight container.

found a great website for dummies like me, learnt quite a bit about baking from here. the name itself says it all, baking911.

the above recipe was definitely based on american measurements, so if you’re from other parts of the world who use UK or metric stuff, add a little more here and there with all the cups/tsp portions. go to cooking measurements conversion websites, lick your thumb and give it a go.

while discussing perfect chocolate chip cookies some time back with a friend, she found this recipe for Wendy Gaynor’s cookies. haven’t a clue who good ol’ Wendy is, but judging from the number of comments on this site, i’d say her cookies are loved. if it can be believed, in this day and Internet pseudonyms-and-such age, Wendy Gaynor herself commented on the recipe and shared a twist. once we finish this jar of giant, crispy cookies aux pépites de chocolat, i’m gonna give Wendy’s recipe a go.

go to the pantry and grab yerself a cookie, you know you want to.