Before I even begin, I’m just gonna put this out there: Man, the brain fog is real these days. Conversations are hard. I find myself snapping my fingers a lot as I search for the words I’m looking for only to proffer a confused “You know what I’m trying to say.” “You do know what I’m trying to say, right?” And, the lack of genuine concern I have that whoever I’m talking to actually does know what I’m trying to say is equally disconcerting, really.
I don’t have the emotional capacity to worry about that, though, because there is a thought with more pressing urgency nagging at me from the back of my mind, and it’s telling me, constantly, that I need to be doing something. I need to be doing something. And that something never seems to be what I’m currently doing.
Each day, there are maybe three things aside from what has become the norm (wake up, snack/worry all day, walk the dog, go to bed) that I’d like to accomplish, and it is an incredible struggle to get them done. Normally, I would say to anyone who told me such a thing “You need to make a list.” Because if you have a list to work from it’s easier to stay focused and it feels so good to cross things off once they’re done. However, my problem has become that my daily lists have split into microlists like rapidly dividing cells and they are splayed all across my desk and stuck to my monitor on little Post-it notes and I am quickly running out of the mental and physical space to contain them. Soon they’ll be tacked up on my walls, held in place with push pins which have a continuous thread of red string attached to them that dots around from one note to another all to tell the tale of a person on the verge of going bonkers.
“Just do one thing,” I tell myself, while puttering around the house, only to find a different task, something that wasn’t even previously on my radar, that I proceed to distract myself from myself from my other tasks with. It is maddening. And before I know it, it’s the end of the day and I wonder what I have done today and why there is nothing to show for it. “I need to be more productive,” I tell myself. Time = Productivity, right?
Once upon a time, a friend of mine ingested some mushrooms of magical provenance. I, being afraid that were I ever to try something of the psychedelic variety, it would surely result in the shedding of my worldly attire, running off into the woods, and never being heard from again, had most certainly not. He sat looking at a calendar, transfixed, perplexed, incredulous. I was curious. He laughed, face-palmed, shook his head in what I perceived to be disbelief as he pointed to the date and said with certainty “We’re here.” I assured him that, yes, we were. He went on, pointing again at the next day on the calendar and saying, “But, how do we get here?” I tried to explain how it happened that today moved to tomorrow, but to no avail. He shook his head, as if to shake loose my words from settling in, chuckling all the while, as though what I was trying to tell him was the most absurd thing he’d ever heard. I now spend several minutes a day staring at the calendar, trying to figure out how we got here, to no avail. And without any hallucinogenics! The pervasive surreality of life these days does the job well enough. I think now that maybe he was right. Maybe what I thought I understood about time is absurd.
There is an oppressive monotony, lack of control, and vacillation between apathy and frustration surrounding the passing of each day that reminds me of being in high school. Today is just another thing to get through and the only thing I have to show for it at night is more work to do tomorrow. Like sands through the hourglass, so are the days of our lives. I am guilty of being a procrastinator. But this is an entirely different experience. I’m not taking the long way around, I’m just going around in circles. A goldfish swimming around its bowl. Life is just one continuous left turn at the moment and there’s no end in sight. I find myself sighing a lot. I am a chronic sigher of exasperated sighs. I have become the ‘woman shrugging’ emoji. Now I am become the incarnation of a Cathy cartoon. And I will meet myself where I am at. With cookies.
I, like everyone else, it seems, have taken this abundance of time to make and maintain a sourdough starter. And, like any other pet, it needed a name. I’ve labeled my sour spawn Grendel, naturally. When feeding my starter, I cannot bear to actually discard the discard, because food is precious, always, but right now, seemingly so precarious, as well. And that is the real raison d’être for these cookies. This recipe is adapted from Tara Jensen’s Sourdough Discard Cookies, which you can find on her Instagram. I recently purchased her book, A Baker's Year, through her website, (where you can also purchase sourdough starter!) and I'm super excited to start baking from it. And here is an article worth checking out as well, if you’re in the sourdough starter kind of way. For Grendel, a whole wheat starter, I used Peter Reinhart’s Bread Baker’s Apprentice as a guide. Bread Baker's Apprentice was the first book I bought when I got into baking bread at home back in 2007, and it's one of my favorite and most used books.
I’ve made these here cookies with varying degrees of wheat flours (all purpose, whole grain spelt, whole wheat pastry, and whole wheat flour), so don’t be afraid to play around depending on what you have on hand. Same goes for the sugars. You can do more granulated than brown or all brown. And the chocolate. I use a mix of semisweet chips, milk chocolate chips, and dark chocolate discs. Results will, inevitably, vary, but that’s part of the fun I’m able to glean from everyday happenings in my kitchen these days. Lot of excitement from little things. And I take it where I can get it.
What I like about this recipe, is that it produces a thin cookie with an edge almost tuile-like in texture and caramelly or butterscotchy in flavor, with a middle that is soft and chewy. And I am team soft and chewy cookie for life. I apologize for nothing!
These cookies like to spread, so the keys here are to refrigerate before baking and space them a few inches apart on the tray. Insert clever social distancing joke here. For my own sanity, so I don’t just while away these new Groundhog Day-esque days by standing in my kitchen, staring off into the void and munching on an endless supply of cookies, I scoop the entire batch of dough into a Ziploc bag and stick it in the freezer. After I label and date the bag with a Sharpie, of course. Because I’m not a complete psycho. Despite what you may be thinking. Thank you very much.
I’ve found that one ounce portions are my preferred size for these cookies, but a two ounce scoop is also nice, especially if you’re in need of some extravagance. It is an acceptable way to break some restraint in your life. Or at least it is for me.
Because I’m leaning in to some of my more benign neuroses, I’ve given equivalents for (most of) the ingredients in volume and weight. I go by weight when I make these, save for things in fractions of a teaspoon. But that’s only because I don’t have a gram scale yet.
Whole Wheat Sourdough Chocolate Chip Cookies
Hello! I'm Kat.
Cooker, baker, amateur pottery maker.
I'm a CIA graduate (culinary arts & applied food studies) who previously studied anthropology.
Food obsessed. Anxiety disorder. Grief bearer.
Here you'll find recipes for what I'm currently feeling and sometimes even why!