Nothing like fresh-baked cookies straight out of the oven. (Contributed)

“Attitude is the ‘little’ thing that makes a big difference.” —Winston Churchill

Each morning, I swing my legs over the side of my bed, slide my feet into “sadly worn” slippers and make my morning’s first cup of coffee where I will take my first sip on my front porch. I take deep breaths of the winter’s cold air while thanking the Almighty for another morning of life.

These mornings here in Ben Lomond have been extraordinary due to the winter sun’s disappearance, while wind and rain have taken over.

Neighbor Mike, due to the weather, is enjoying this experience as well, and after my wave to him, I retreat inside to my chair in front of the fireplace.

I call this time, my “attitude adjustment” time. So, it’s raining, and the house is cold. Time for positive thinking…which for me, means, cookie baking time, where the warmth of the oven will heat my kitchen.

In Persia during the seventh century, bakers would drop a dollop of cake dough in the oven to test the oven’s temperature, which later became their version of a cookie.

The English had their Scones, and anything resembling a cookie, were called biscuits and the Scots had their butter-filled “shortbread.”

I have been cooking a Soup/Salad and Let’s Talk luncheon for seniors at the Senior Center in Scotts Valley with cookies as their dessert. This has been a learning experience for me as well, as I want to bake the unusual cookie, not the ho-hum cookie we normally find in our bakery or markets.

I have made Tokyo Banana Rolls, strictly from the “seat of my pants” so to speak…following this recipe carefully…these banana rolls turned out to be a replica of our “Twinkies” with a banana filling and bent to resemble a banana. I have to “pat” myself on the back…they tasted and looked like a banana filled “Twinkie.”

As a child, I only remember my aunt baking icebox cookies; cookie dough rolled into a long log, put into the refrigerator overnight, and then in the morning, sliced and baked. I do remember dunking these cookies in milk, as they were quite crisp.

The next cookie I remember were the sugar cookies, dough rolled out and cut with a drinking glass used as a cookie cutter and then sprinkled with granulated sugar.

The next years were void of cookies as the nuns in the convent where I was living did not favor desserts of any kind. I believe the money which was not available for the ingredients was the reason.

It was in the late 1930s when Ruth Wakefield, chef and owner of the Toll House Restaurant in Massachusetts, added broken pieces of a Hershey candy bar to her cookie batter, which became popular as the Chocolate Chip Toll House Cookie.

Shortly after, soldiers fighting in Europe during World War II began receiving packages of these cookies from their families and the American Red Cross. These families were saving their food stamps issued by the government for sugar and flour, butter, etc., in order to make cookies, candy and other food to send to their sons and daughters who were fighting the war in Europe and other countries where they were stationed.

I remember aunt so carefully wrapping these packages of homemade “love” and how frightened she was of her son being able to return home, safely.

Today, as I always do during stormy weather, I baked trays of Lydia Bastianiches Ricotta Mini Chocolate Mint cookies, with a substitute. I had no ricotta, so substituted Mascarpone cheese instead. Ricotta has a grainer texture, where mascarpone is smooth with a little tang. Cream cheese would also work here.

The days ahead will be cold, windy and rain will pour. Take my advice…make a cup of coffee and stand on your pouch and breathe deeply while sipping that first cup of morning coffee. Be grateful for all that we have and enjoy your Attitude Adjustment, as I do.

Ricotta Mini Chocolate Mint Cookies

(Makes 40 cookies)

Preheat oven to 325deg.

1/2 cup butter

1 cup gran sugar

8 oz. ricotta cheese (well drained) or 8 oz. mascarpone cheese

Mix together until smooth, then add:

2 large eggs

1 tsp. vanilla extract

In a bowl sift together:

2 1/4 cups of all-purpose flour

1 tsp. baking powder

1 pinch salt

Add flour mixture to butter mixture. Mix in:

1 cup mini chips.

Chill dough in refrigerator 1 hour.

On a parchment-lined baking sheet drop dough by tablespoons full. 

Bake 20-25 minutes until edges are lightly browned. 

Cool on rack.

Colly Gruczelak, a Ben Lomond resident, loves people and loves to cook. Contact her at [email protected].

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Colly Gruczelak, a Ben Lomond resident, loves people and loves to cook. Contact her at [email protected].


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