Many of you who know me personally probably already know this. One of my favourite things about being a writer is getting the chance to give school presentations. I’m often invited into classrooms to talk about writing to students, and I just love it. I get so much energy from the kids, and hopefully I give them ideas for their own writing in the process.
This week I did something a little different. I visited the classroom of the child of a friend of mine, not to instruct, but to talk about being an author. Throughout the year they have invited adults in to talk about their jobs and Thursday was my chance.
My favourite part of class presentations is the question and answer period. Sometimes the kids ask me if I liked writing so much, why I went into banking at all. (Good one, and I’m not sure I know the answer.) Sometimes – and this must be the J.K. Rowling factor – they ask me if I get rich from writing. (Uh, no.) Once I was asked if people ask me for my autograph all the time. (Not unless you count the cheques I write to the phone company, the gas company, …)
More than anything, I hope what the kids heard was a story of second beginnings – of changing your career in mid-life, and in the process making your dreams come true. I was talking to a writer friend yesterday, one who has won the Canadian Library Association Book of the Year award. (And yes, that’s as prestigious as it sounds.) We agreed how incredibly blessed we are to be writers.
For me, baking and writing go together well. Thursday morning, while I was thinking about what I’d say to the students, I baked a batch of World Peace Cookies. While I was beating the butter, I thought about how I loved to write as a kid, but took sensible courses in university to prepare me for a job in banking. While I was stirring in the chocolate chips, I remembered how, when I left my job to become a full-time stay at home mom, I decided to take up writing again. And when I rolled the batter into logs to store in the fridge, I thought about the writing courses I took, the rejections I received from publishers, and the many wonderful writers I met en route to getting my first book published.
World Peace Cookies
(from Dorie Greenspan’s Baking: From my Home to Yours)
1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1 stick plus 3 Tbsp (11 Tbsp in all) unsalted butter, at room temperature
2/3 cup packed brown sugar
1/4 cup sugar
1/4 tsp fine sea salt
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
3/4 cup mini chocolate chips
Sift the flour, cocoa and baking soda together.
In a separate bowl, beat the butter until soft and creamy. Add both sugars, the salt and vanilla and beat for 2 minutes more.
Stir in the dry mixture, then add the chocolate chips, mixing only to incorporate.
Turn the dough out onto a work surface, gather it together and divide it in half. Shape each piece into a log that is 1½ inches in diameter. Wrap the logs in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 1 hour. (Dorie says to refrigerate for 3 hours. I made half the batch after one hour and the other half after three hours, and didn’t notice a difference.) The dough can be refrigerated for up to three days or frozen for up to three months.
Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper. Using a sharp knife, slice the logs into rounds that are ½ inch thick. If the dough cracks as you cut it, just squeeze the bits back into place.
Bake the cookies for 12 minutes. Let them cool until they are warm, at which time you can remove them from the baking sheet.