After thirty-some years of marriage—to the same man, no less—I have a few opinions about the institution that I would like to share on this, the eve of Saint Valentine’s Day. Let’s start with: thirty years is a long time. You need to pace yourself. Here are five (of many) suggestions to sustain longevity. I am still working on them. (NB, these are mostly addressed to women, but understand that there are inherent role reversals in this list.) Please add your tips in the comment section if you feel so moved.
1. Ladies, before you tie the knot, you must understand the difference between a man’s brain and a woman’s brain. It will only cost you five minutes, but I implore you to WATCH THIS VIDEO. Call me old fashioned, but much of managing domestic life is going fall in your lap, so the sooner you accept that, the better.
2. If you ask your husband to do something around the house, be forewarned that you will have to ask him again. And a couple of more times after that. Why? Because, he will forget. It is part of his programming. We women hate that. It is part of our programming.
3. Don’t sweat the small stuff. When your husband loads the dishwasher, button your lip. Think. Do I want an efficiently loaded dishwasher or do I want spousal participation in household chores?
4. Thank and praise your husband when he does something around the house. I know, maybe it’s something he should do, but don’t take it for granted. Why do I have to pander, you ask? Because it works. Think of it this way: if it is pandering, it is also self-serving. You will get more help and cooperation as a result. Anyway, everyone wants to be appreciated.
5. Commit to enduring the ups and downs, because there will be many: kids, jobs, changes, financial crises, illnesses, good times, bad times. They’ll be there, like the weather. Remember that nothing is static, life changes. Roll with it; get therapy if you need it (for yourself!). Take deep breaths. Recall the love you felt when you married. It’s in there somewhere. It’s up to you to find it in your heart every single day. And while you’re at it, keep some chocolate handy.
These fat, fudgy cookies have been a long time coming. I’ve tweaked this recipe more than a few times in search of bigger, flatter cookies. But sometimes you have to leave well enough alone, and I’m pleased to report these represent a happy ending to the story. (Inasmuch as all recipes are continuously subject to revision.) Even though I’m kind of a crunch fiend when it comes to cookies, I like these for their soft interior and their snowflake dusting of powdered sugar. The sugar melts into a light icing in the oven, so once the cookies have cooled, they need another sprinkling of sugar to look pretty.
Although I normally don’t sift much anymore in baking—I usually whisk dry ingredients in a bowl to thoroughly mix them—there are a few baking ingredients that should be passed through a sieve: cocoa powder, confectioner’s sugar and baking soda or powder. These tend to have small lumps if they languish too long in the cupboard, so take the extra step upfront so you don’t have to deal with unpleasant bits half way through mixing.
Chocolate Crackle Cookies
Makes about 20 (2-inch) cookies
1 square (1 ounce) unsweetened chocolate, coarsely chopped
4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, cut into slices
1 1/2 cups flour
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder (Dutch process)
1 cup sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/3 cup olive oil
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 to 4 tablespoons water
1/2 cup confectioner’s sugar, sifted
1. Line 2 cookie sheets with parchment. Heat the oven to 350 degrees F.
1. In a small, microwave safe bowl, heat the chocolate and butter at 30 second-intervals until melted, about 1 1/2 minutes. (Or, in a heatproof bowl set over hot water, melt chocolate and butter together.)
2. In a mixer bowl, sift flour, cocoa powder, sugar, baking soda, and salt. Add the olive oil, egg, vanilla and 2 tablespoons of water. Mix with the paddle attachment (or by hand with a wooden spoon,) until well combined. Add 1 to 2 tablespoons more water if mixture seems dry.
3. Using a #40 cookie scoop (about 1 1/2 tablespoons,) scoop dough and form into balls. Roll in confectioner’s sugar and set 2 inches apart on the baking sheets.
4. Bake the cookies for 13 to 15 minutes. They will seem slightly soft to the touch on top when they come out of the oven. Let cool completely on the baking sheets.
5. When cool, sift more confectioner’s sugar over the top of the cookies.