My cooking story: A tale of desperation, despair, and chocolate chips


Nick Alutto, Managing Editor of A&E

I’ve never been much of a cook. Sure, I know how to make the basics, whether it’s microwave mac-and-cheese,
scrambled eggs, grilled cheese, or any other two-three step recipe, I typically have it covered. It’s when the recipe
includes more mixing, preheating, and over five ingredients that I begin to have trouble. However, it was the
beginning of quarantine and I was determined.
I was in the phase that I believe many of us went through in quarantine; I was determined to learn new skills and
wanted to use this time productively. If you have been able to pull that off and are still learning new things every
day, then you have my utmost respect. However, many of us eventually trudged into the realities of this everlasting
stay-at-home “vacation” and have given up our new hobbies, and in my opinion, that is okay too. The night that my
viewpoint shifted will forever be seared into my memory.
It was right after dinner and I was full, yet still hungry for something sweet. My heart was set on chocolate chip
cookies. I knew we had some Chips Ahoy, but that wasn’t going to cut it. I wanted to make homemade chocolate
chip cookies. How hard could that be? I thought. I seem to never learn that almost every time I think “how hard
could that be?” The answer is nearly always, much harder than I thought.
Finding a recipe was easy. It was on the bag of chocolate chips that were already in my kitchen. I gathered my
ingredients and began to mix together what the recipe said. After about 30 minutes of work, I had a pleasant
smelling bowl of cookie dough that looked no different than any other cookie dough I had seen in my life. Now I’m
no chef, as you will soon see, but to my knowledge, I had followed all the mixing instructions perfectly up to this
point. I double-checked every time I saw the word “Tsp” or “Tbsp,” to assure I wasn’t putting in a teaspoon when I
should be putting in a tablespoon or a tablespoon when I should be putting in a teaspoon, I made sure to grab baking
powder and not baking soda, and I am positive I used the right amount of eggs.
I’m ashamed to admit it, but I began to get arrogant. “I’m great at this,” I thought. I had already begun planning out
my cooking career, and I could see my skills rivaling those of Gordon Ramsey and any contestant on The Great
British Bake Off. Then the next step began, putting the dough on a pan and placing it in the oven.
I was hungry and I wanted big cookies. The cookie size on the bag seemed too small, so I eyeballed it. I put them in
the oven and started a 10-minute timer. 10 minutes later, when Alexa rang, I had no idea that my cookie dream
would turn into a nightmare.
I pulled the cookies out of the oven and devastation instantly hit. The outside was burned to a crisp with the inside of
the cookies combining, covering the pan while still being raw. I tried to put them back in the oven to cook the
insides, but they were unsalvageable.
For my next batch, I followed the serving size exactly, but still, the cookies were burned on the outside before being
cooked on the inside. I felt like a fool.
For the last batch, I was extra cautious. These cookies were almost half the suggested size for the pan listed in the
recipe. These cookies were fully burned to a crisp. It was like living through a cruel version of Goldilocks, only I
could never find what was just right.
The only edible cookies that night resembled double chocolate chip cookies because they were so burned. I put the
edible ones on a plate on the counter, free for any family member who had extremely low standards for a chocolate
chip cookie.

I don’t mean to sound discouraging. Take this story as a lesson I had to learn for you. If you want to take up cooking
during quarantine, then you should. Just make sure to be extra careful to look up recipes and tutorials online, so you
can bake your food and eat it too.
As for me that night, I wandered to the other side of the kitchen, and begrudgingly grabbed a handful of Chips Ahoy
cookies, they seemed like a fine choice.