My response to this loaded question launched by my husband from the kitchen was a hesitant, “Why?”
“I might’ve eaten a few of the chocolate chips last night. I didn’t know you were saving them for making cookies; otherwise I wouldn’t have eaten them. But you weren’t planning on making cookies tonight, right?”
Nope. Those unopened bag of chocolate chips sitting right next to the new container of baking powder were for tonight’s meatloaf. And the vial of vanilla adjacent to the freshly purchased butter flavored Crisco were for taco night next Tuesday. And that new bag of brown sugar pressed flat against the counter, providing a base for that now opened bag of chocolate chips…well, those were just for decoration. But now that you mention it, dear Husband, those ARE all the ingredients necessary for making chocolate chip cookies. Turns out I’ve married a modern-day Matlock.
But no big deal, right? I mean, what’s a couple of missing chocolate chips in the big scheme of things? Surely it’s not enough to ruin a perfectly good batch of cookies. Wait, what’s that—you actually ate half the bag? Awesome.
Despite this minor setback, my daughter and I gathered the remaining ingredients and began our mission to create the perfect movie night snack. After a week living under the haze of a germ cloud and nights spent listening to hacking coughs deep enough to make Doc Holliday look like he was suffering from a minor case of bronchitis, this family was ready for a night of movies, snuggles, and cookies on the couch. We’d even changed out of our jammies from the night before directly into new jammies for the occasion (there will be no wasting of “regular clothes” on a sick day).
Our project started in the same manner as all cookie projects before, with Matlock swooping in to “check” the oven temperature. “Honey, did you mean to set the stove for 375? Isn’t is supposed to be at 350?” With an annoyed glance shot his way, I advised him to check the recipe on the half-eaten bag of chocolate chips. Sure enough, 375. Relieved that his wife was literate enough to decipher the crucial details of the recipe, he retired into the living room to begin setting up the theatre.
My daughter and I measured and mixed the dry ingredients and started in on the second phase of the project, the one that requires the only power tool that we own—the mixer. As my daughter moved a chair to retrieve two eggs from the refrigerator, Matlock reappeared in our kitchen. This time he had an idea. “Honey, what if you used this bag of M&Ms to replace the missing chocolate chips?” Missing, huh? His detective skills were a little rusty. But he was rather pleased with his problem solving proficiency so I obliged and took the bag of candy-coated goodness before escorting him out of the war room.
With all of the dry and wet ingredients combined and the two types of chocolates folded into the batter, we were ready to scoop the mixture onto the pan. For her help, I gave my daughter a healthy portion of dough on a spoon and she walked off to enjoy her creation. My baby toddled into the kitchen for her share, and I dipped a baby spoon into the bowl to give her a taste as well. She swiped the baby spoon from my hands and hustled off to savor this treat behind the couch—her private tasting room and favorite spot in the house. (Hey, when you have to share space with two other siblings, you have to protect your privacy somehow.)
I scooped some out for my son and husband as well, and delivered it to them in the living room because, by now, Matlock was a little scared to come back into the kitchen. His normal hovering tendencies (that tend to kick in anytime his wife is in the vicinity of the stove) had just taken a hit minutes before. While on baby-watch, he was distracted by our son’s video game and our youngest had taken this opportunity to find the box of baking soda from the spice cabinet. We found her with the powdery evidence around her lips and a sour expression on her face. Although it may look like a sweet treat, baking soda does not actually taste like powdered sugar. Life lessons abound in our house.
The first indication that something was wrong came in the form of my very own helper, who returned to the kitchen to hand me back her uneaten portion of dough with a simple but direct, “I don’t like it.” I admit, I was a little taken aback. It’s been well established through the years that I am no Martha Stewart, but lately my cookie skills have been on point and I was feeling pretty confident and a tad bit smug. I tasted the mixture that was already spooned unto the pan and ready to be placed into the oven and grudgingly realized that she was right—something was off. Before I could figure out where I’d gone wrong, I saw Matlock peek around the corner. He’d heard my helper’s critique and was itching to use it as an invitation to deliver his own theory. I could see the fear in his eyes and the apprehension in his movements. He paused before opening his mouth, as if his internal monologue was debating the risk versus the reward of sharing his thoughts. Despite his better judgment, his shaking voice offered the smoking gun evidence of this case – “Did you forget to add the sugar?”
Choking down my pride, I admitted my omission and Matlock took this opportunity to tag in. He confidently took his position in front of the bowl of dough and, like a surgeon, barked out demands for the necessary tools – “Sugar, measuring cup, wooden spoon, and Spatula…STAT!” And with the skill of someone who’s mixed a few cookie bowls in his life and the satisfaction of a successful sleuth, Matlock folded and scooped and saved the day.
Ten minutes later, piping fresh cookies and cold glasses of milk were ready for consumption and movie night could finally begin. The sleuth and the chef assumed their anchor positions on either side of the couch, three babies between them, and settled in for a long awaited night of relaxation. But with relaxation came a realization—perhaps there WAS room for two cooks in the kitchen. As they exchanged a glance across the back of the couch, they couldn’t help but chuckle over their unlikely alliance. As with any great partnership, one’s weaknesses are mitigated by the other’s strengths. Martha and Matlock, a team built to last…at least until the next meal.