Thin Chocolate Cookies + Ice Cream Sandwiches

I’ve been thinking lately: One of the worst parts about being far away from people is missing out on the everyday stuff of their lives, you know? The funny stories about coworkers, the play-by-play of awkward conversations, the new recipes, the introductions, the disappointments, all those ordinary humdrum things that make up our days. I remember feeling it after college, when my friends lived in other states and e-mail and phone calls could only help so much. Then there was last summer, when the friend I’d worked with for three years got a new job (and shortly thereafter, I became self-employed) and we stopped seeing each other every afternoon.

It’s life. People get married, friends move away, there are job transitions and new cities and all kinds of change. We should expect it.

And for me, lately, it’s been the transition of my own leaving—moving from almost everyone I know to live in a different city, to be with a different person, eight hours away from where I was—and along with it, the unintended but accompanying blog break, where I’m barely eeking out a weekly post. Where did that come from?

thin chocolate cookies

It seems these things can kind of sneak up on us. I mean, one day, you’re spending a casual Thursday chatting with your friend at the office; the next, you’re sitting at your roommate’s dining room table, eating avocado on toast in the middle of Tennessee. It’s life. It’s change. I may always be amazed by it.

And I think, in all these transitions, there are moments when you miss things—say, your family, your streets, the ability to run to Whole Foods with your brother at 9:30 PM—but, the longer you hang on and stick with it, seeing all the new, good things in your life along with what can seem to be bad, things keep feeling more normal. You grow with the change, and you adapt.

Also, you work really hard at staying in touch with the people you love because then you probably can. I hope.

More thin chocolate cookies

So that’s what this post is all about: you and me, staying in touch. A lot has happened since that chicken soup debacle, for example, and you ought to be updated: Tim and I went home for a few days to surprise my mom for her birthday (and it worked!); I got over being sick; I tried chewy, charred Neapolitan-style pizza at City House; I met an old coworker for coffee/lunch and we bonded over a love for warmer weather in the South. I’ve even got a real bed now, and it was approximately $50 cheaper than what I’d expected to pay.

ice cream sandwiches

Beyond that, as you’d expect, there has been some cooking.

When I have a little down time, I usually think of cookies—because some things don’t change at all—and after a few experiments last week, I was still on the hunt for a good chocolate cookie.

ice cream on cookies

Ideally, I was looking for a chocolate cookie with some crunch—a gingersnap but made of chocolate—and while these aren’t exactly that, they are a good find just the same.

ice cream spread on cookies

Plus, being that they’re adapted from an Oreo recipe at Smitten Kitchen, it was an obvious next step to turn them into sandwiches of some kind, which is exactly what we did Tuesday afternoon with Ben & Jerry’s vanilla.

chocolate cookie ice cream sandwich

Oh my goodness, people. It was really good that there were only four cookies left when the ice cream sandwich idea happened—just enough for two—because otherwise I literally wouldn’t have been able to stop making them.

Prepare yourself: These are no joke. I like to think of them as a byproduct of the move—along with changing addresses and learning new things and missing people—because in that way, things really seem pretty great.

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Homemade Chicken Soup

chicken soup

Last week, I spent the better part of two days holed up in my barely furnished room, watching TV on my laptop—because apparently, nothing says, Welcome to Nashville!, like a stomach bug that knocks every shred of every thing out of your body in the course of one evening—and the whole time, there was one thing I couldn’t stop thinking about: homemade chicken soup.

You know what I mean when I say homemade chicken soup, right? I don’t mean chicken soup from a can or even packaged chicken broth that you add vegetables to. I mean roast-your-own-chicken-and-turn-it-into-stock soup. The kind that is soothing and comforting. The kind that is loaded with nutrients. The kind that “puts vigor in the step and sparkle in love life” to quote folklore.

I’ve tried to make my own stock before with bad results. I actually remember an entire conversation Jacqui and I had about this: not enough flavor, not what we expected, what were we doing wrong? But it was just a month or two ago that I made it with great results: rich, flavorful, perfect for adding vegetables and rice to. Now this is kind of my go-to version, and exactly what I was craving. The key seems to be the same thing that changes relationships, careers, opinions, and experiences: time.

chicken soup

As soon as I had the strength to leave the house and visit a local grocery, I bought a chicken, a bag of carrots, a bag of celery, and an onion. And the next morning, I set to work, putting the chicken in the oven as soon as I woke up.

The carcass and pan drippings went into a pot that afternoon, covered with water and, here’s what’s so important: given hours and hours to cook down. By evening, that chicken-submerged water had become darker, thicker, much more akin to the stuff you expect to see when you think of chicken stock. And, most importantly, strained and combined with vegetables and shredded chicken, it was perfection: pure comfort in a bowl.

chicken soup

I ate it for three days straight.

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coconut macaroons

coconut macaroons

The thing nobody tells you ahead of time when you say you’re going to move to a new place is that doing so—packing up most of your belongings and driving eight hours to a new city with the help of two men who must really love you to put themselves through a drive of snow and ice and, Indiana on the whole of their Saturday and Sunday—will, at many times, feel much less like Adventure and much more like Terrifying.

macaroons without chocolate

Which, I guess, is another way of saying, I’m here, for those of you who’ve been wanting an update. I’ve gone and moved to Nashville. I’m sleeping on a mattress on the floor and realized yesterday I didn’t bring my snow clothes (it snows in the South? what?), but on the whole, things are good. In fact, there has been a lot of Adventure in getting to know new streets, meeting lots of new people, visiting three libraries before finding a place to work on Monday afternoon.

dipping the macaroon

And while I do already have some basic groceries, this post is actually about a dessert we—I and that guy I moved to Nashville for—made a couple weeks ago at his house, back when I was still hunting for a place to live in this city that I guess is now home.

dipping macaroon

It’s pretty simple, just a combination of egg whites, sugar, coconut and a few other small things, but it’s handy to have when you want to use leftover egg whites (say, after making some homemade chocolate pudding, for example).

dipping the macaroon

If you’ve ever had store-bought coconut macaroons before, you’re in for a pleasant surprise with this homemade version: it’s so much softer and chewier than what I’ve had before. To finish them off, we melted a bar of dark chocolate to dip or drizzle them in, but that step is entirely optional.

dipped in chocolate

I was thinking last night while I boiled water for tea that it’s funny what things make you feel at home. For me, it’s seeing my clothes in the closet, knowing my towel’s on the back of the bathroom door but, more than that, it’s food—using the same kinds of ingredients I used in Chicagoland, stocking a new pantry, eating toast with butter and raw honey for breakfast.

plate of macaroons

So when I come up for air around here—amidst a sea of work projects and an always growing shopping list—I can already tell you where you’ll find me:

chocolate covered

and I’m already in the mood for more cookies.

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