Believe It Or Not


I’ve been writing about these chocolate chip cookies for years. I can’t even remember where it started. I think I was probably just looking at the back of a Tollhouse package, thinking there must be a better cookie than this out there. I got some ideas.

The biggest idea was to chill the dough, and for longer than apparently seems possible to a lot of people. If I’m going to make these cookies, I need two days’ warning. I make the dough, stick it in the fridge, and come back in 48 hours.

So every time someone asks for the recipe, I hand it over knowing I won’t have a cookie rival. The ingredients are important, and I do some fancy stuff I’ve developed over the years, but that’s really the secret. Give any rich dough a rest and chill and the flavor gets fun. It just seems hard to do for a lot of people. I get that.

It’s on my mind only because I made a batch of cookies yesterday, for another one of my dessert auction things. A while ago, I started making slightly smaller cookies, just because they were so rich and, while a larger cookie makes for a better cookie in this case (more real estate allows for a crunchier rim and soft middle), they also get tricky to manage (i.e., while cooling sometimes the middle will just drop out). I figured out how much each ball of dough should weigh, about 1-1/2 ounces, so I drop them on a kitchen scale and it all works out wonderfully.

But I think you’ve got to get off on this sort of thing, the direction-following and whole process, so I just hand out the recipe and never hear back. No magical cookies appear, or are really mentioned again, until I bring a batch. People are funny.

On my wife’s last checkup with her cardiologist, they both decided that her summer goals should be to sleep and move. I assume not at the same time.

Rest has been primary, and I do what I can, walk softly in the mornings and try not to annoy the cat. The sleep has done wonders for her, and she does try to manage a decent walk once a day. The smoke from the fires kept us all off the road for a week, but generally she’s moving more.

She also wants to lose weight, which is where my cookie analogy comes in (I may not have mentioned the analogy coming; here it is). I can’t help her.

I can’t. You would think I could but nope. We’re different creatures, and after 35 years I know all about this.

The secret to my cookies is patience. The secret to my weight loss success, if you call it that, is numbers. Not everyone gets as excited about numbers, so. She’s going to have to figure out what works for her. I offer suggestions but it’s a tricky business.

Yesterday, I was hungry and so I made one of my peanut-butter burritos, essentially a PB sandwich using a tortilla. It’s one of my go-to snacks, and she mentioned that she’d read an article recently about how peanut butter helps people with weight loss.


This is when I had a Fantasyland flash (the Kurt Andersen book I was raving about last fall). Andersen makes an excellent case for an American tendency toward egalitarian intellectualism, where your ideas are as good as mine, even if they’re crazy ideas. Even if there’s no evidence to back them up, and plenty of evidence to suggest they are actually pretty crazy.

I see examples every day, real-world examples. Someone shared a post the other day about a cardiologist’s common-sense advice on how to deal with an apparent heart attack when you’re home alone and help hasn’t arrived yet. We were encouraged to copy and paste, always a dead give-away, but the casualness of the repostings is stunning to me.

This is supposed to be life-saving information, I mean. Wouldn’t you want to make sure it’s correct information?

Yeah. OK, never mind.

So listen to me on this, then—peanut butter doesn’t have magical weight-loss properties, ‘k? It has a fair amount of protein, which we know is more satiating than fat or carbs. It also has a fair amount of fat, which we know is more tasty than protein or carbs. And there are carbs. Hey, we’ve got a super food!

I’m not sure this was exactly Andersen’s point (I need to reread Fantasyland), but it struck me that Americans aren’t, and can’t reasonably be, more gullible than other humans. There’s just a righteousness to our gullibility, as if it were a birthright to believe whatever we want, and have that belief validated, or at least accepted by others as potentially being valid.

I’m going to assume somebody wrote a responsible article, pointing out that some people find that eating peanut butter tamps down the appetite. Some people. Makes sense to me for a lot of reasons. For one, I know that I spread 2-3 tablespoons of peanut butter on my tortilla, making the whole thing slightly over 400 calories. It is, in terms of nutritional energy, a cheeseburger.

Nothing wrong with cheeseburgers. I’d eat a cheeseburger right now if someone gave me one. But it’s not a secret weapon for weight loss, nor is peanut butter. We just want to pretend it is, and pretend that it’s magic, or technical, or mysterious. Not. Just calories, fat and carbohydrates and protein, the macros of nutrition.

My wife isn’t the problem. She just casually mentioned something that caught her eye. She shrugged when I made my case. She wasn’t about to go on a peanut butter diet anyway.

The problem has always been us. And not just because we’ve perhaps institutionalized wackiness into a civil right, wherein all are allowed their 15 minutes and expect others to listen respectfully.

It’s because we allow ourselves to form opinions based on fluff and fantasy, and then we vote. Good luck to us with that.

Chuck SigarsComment