Ok, so since my last name is Palluzzi I grew up with a Nonnie. While this word (Nonna) means grandmother in Italian, this particularly Nonnie was my father’s grandmother. And we lived with her for awhile, in the house where my Poppy grew up. This all sounds homey, ethnic, and delightful.
Except my Nonnie didn’t really like me. She must have loved me, but liked, I’m not so sure. She was upwards of 80, sick from diabetes, and fairly slow moving. I was a four year old, squirrelly, blond-hair, blue-eyed mystery to her (I don’t know where the hair came from, so don’t ask. Although I do boast some Irish blood, so does everyone else in my family, and they are decidedly un-blond). To make matters worse, I had a tiny, dark eyed, dark haired sister who obviously rang truer to our heritage. I never stood a chance.
To illustrate my point I will share with you my one most vivid memory of my Nonnie. I was four. She possessed a pack of gum, and I wanted it. She begrudingly handed me a half stick, while forcing the rest of the entire pack upon the aforementioned brunette sister. I knew where I stood.
In any case, this is not meant to be a post with an anti-Nonnie tilt. The woman still instilled a lot of things in me, once I was older, and she was no longer with us, and I could at least appreciate, from a distance, her anti-blond mindset. Plus, I was a handful at four. I still am a handful.
One of the things that she left to my family was her recipe for chocolate chip cookies. This recipe isn’t much different than the one on the back of the chocolate chip bag or the one you’ll find in Betty Crocker, but there’s something about it that’s full of tradition and family and comfort. And love. Part of being Italian is an intense, overpowering, and at times, just plain unhealthy connection to your immediate and surrounding family. And while my family is not that way in terms of distance, I like to think we’re that way in spirit. We’re spread out across the whole of the nation, and it’s comforting to know that I can create something in my kitchen that’s going to taste the exact same way its tasted for the past 25 years of my life. I like that it’s a tradition that I can embrace, and that I can pass on. And so I’ll share it with you (with a few this-generation notes from my sorellina). Also, this final thought. I prefer this lifetime of cookie baking to a full pack of gum, so I’d say I made out pretty well this time around:
Chocolate Chip Cookies:
1 1/3 cup shortening (or butter)
1 cup sugar
1 cup brown sugar
1 tsp vanilla
3 cups flour
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt (yes, this is important)
12 oz chocolate chips (or other additives, to taste)
1 tbsp cocoa
1 tsp cinnamon
0. You’re supposed to pre-heat to 350, but I don’t believe in pre-heating because it’s bad for the environment.
1. Add the shortening, and sugars. Mix well.
2. Add the eggs (room temperature if you can) and vanilla. Mix well.
3. Add each cup of flour separately, mixing between each cup. In the 2nd cup, (or whichever you like, I’m just anal) add 1 tsp of baking soda and 1 tsp of salt, and mix a little into the flour. Apparently this is important to do or else the baking soda doesn’t work.
4. This would be the time to add your add-ins, if you so chose. I would suggest cinnamon for the season.
5. Add chips. Mix well.
6. Put them in the oven. Nonnie’s recipe always said 8-10 minutes, but alas, that’s never long enough. Aim for 12, and then check.
*Note from an Irish-German man trying (fairly successfully) to weasel his way into a kitchen full of Italian women: These cookies actually take more than 12 minutes to bake–it’s more like 15. I’ll give him this one.