Traverse City Record-Eagle

December 21, 2013

Rob Ford: Spread cheer one cookie at a time

BY ROB FORD Local columnist
Traverse City Record-Eagle

---- — It’s the holidays, so here is a recipe for you.

Preheat your oven to 350°, and line cookie sheets with parchment paper

With a mixer, combine ½ cup of softened butter or margarine, ½ cup of butter-flavored shortening, one cup of white sugar and one cup of packed light brown sugar.

Beat the sugar, butter and shortening until it becomes fluffy.

Next, blend in three large eggs, three cups of all purpose flour, one teaspoon of salt and 1 1/2 teaspoons of baking soda just until they are fully incorporated. Next, mix in an entire bag of chocolate chips, or more if you’re feeling generous.

Using an ice cream scooper drop large tablespoon sized balls of dough onto the cookie sheets a couple of inches apart. Bake them for ten minutes, but at about eight minutes you can open the oven door and check on them. Lightly tanned and soft is best, but you can bake them longer if you prefer them crispy.

Cool them on a rack and enjoy them with a big glass of milk.

People that have been reading the Record-Eagle for a long time might remember an author named “Jan Baty, the Cookie Lady” and I have pried this favorite Chocolate Cookie Recipe out of her files just for purposes of this column.

Here’s one from my own files.

Combine two cups of sugar, one cup of Caro syrup, a half a cup of water in a sauce pan and heat it until it reaches 250°.

Add two tablespoons of butter and a pound of raw peanuts to the heated syrup and cook this until it reaches three hundred degrees.

Add one teaspoon of pure vanilla extract and two tablespoons of baking soda into the sauce pan, stir vigorously for ten seconds then pour the whole thing onto a well buttered cookie sheet to cool.

Enjoy at Christmas.

Those words were scratched across a small piece of paper and given to my wife at a bridal shower in the summer of 1983. A couple of months later, I came across the recipe, scavenged the ingredients and concocted goober and goo alchemy on an early winter afternoon.

Upon tasting it Marcy said nothing, but the look etched across her face shouted “Prove to the world, you candy making clod, that this was no accident.”

For the next 30 years, I have repeated the recipe and the look on her face has hardly ever changed.

The best part of holiday goodie making, for both Jan and me, is that we make these delicious things for anyone but ourselves.

Jan’s got a bunch of grandkids, a garbage man, doctors, teachers, a dentist and anyone else that “just needs a cookie” co-dependent upon what comes out of her oven. I make a bunch of peanut brittle and just hand it out to folks around Elk Rapids throughout the holidays.

What makes these things that so many of us love to make for other folks to enjoy so special is the passion, the creativity and the love that we convey every time we make a batch. We bag it up, stick a bow on top of it and then show up on somebody’s doorstep with something that we just wanted them to enjoy.

If you like Chocolate Chip Cookies or Peanut Brittle, then give these recipes a try. I promise that I haven’t left out any steps or secret ingredients, so they should turn out pretty good.

If you don’t want to make your own, perhaps you’ll be lucky enough to cross paths with Jan or me in the next few days and we’ll have some to share with you.

Either way, here’s to a merry Christmas to us all.

Rob Ford was born and raised in northern Michigan. He lives in Elk Rapids where he owns and operates Riverside Title. He can be reached via email at