Archive for the 'Cool Stuff' Category

Clever Cupcakes

Thursday, January 7th, 2010

I love cupcakes. I love clever. This series of 100 celebrates the world of games/gaming. The link from Wil Wheaton’s blog urges you to go, and I’m glad I did. I was delighted several times, and I bet you will be, too.

Scrabble cupcake

How Parenting is Like Reading

Tuesday, January 5th, 2010

At The Believer, Chris Batchelder writes:

the vivid surprises of child-rearing seem so similar to the vivid surprises of good literature.

(Link from The Morning News.)

and offers examples. Recently, I was reading The Very Busy Spider to 3yo Guppy, for what may have been the gazillionth time. As happened to Batchelder, though, my kid surprised me when I least expected I could be surprised.

In the book, a spider spins a web and a series of farm animals ask if she wants to do something else with them, e.g. Want to roll in the mud, said the pig? After I read one of those questions, Guppy said, “But spiders don’t do that.” It took me a moment to put together that not only was the spider ignoring the questions as she spun her web, but Guppy had just crystallized that what they were asking her to do weren’t things a spider could or would do, until the very end when the rooster asks if she wants to catch a pesky fly. I’d read this book hundreds of times, and Guppy’s statement revealed a whole new facet of the book to me.

Happy 2010!

Monday, January 4th, 2010

A good book, a cup of coffee, a manageable to-do list, and Stella D’oro breakfast treats, courtesy of my kind mother-in-law, since I can’t find them anywhere out here.

New Year's Day 2010

How to Heat a Pan

Tuesday, December 15th, 2009

At Houseboat Eats, which I’ll presently be adding to my subscription list, author Talley writes “On properly heating your pan.” Be sure to watch the embedded video. I hesitated a bit about following the link from The Morning News, but holy cats, I’m glad I did. The video is fascinating, and I can’t wait to try it tonight when I cook tofu.

A Matching Set

Wednesday, October 7th, 2009

When I got my first solo apartment, in the Art Museum area of Philly in 1991, my father bought a bookcase for me and finished it in a cherry stain to match the rest of my furniture. When I moved again in 1994, I told him I needed another bookcase. Not wanting to go through the PITA of finishing another one, he bought the same bookcase, already finished.

Or so he thought. It arrived, and the wrong case was in the box. It was unfinished. As I’m hardly handy, and only sporadically compulsive and perfectionistic, I let it be.

Flash forward fifteen years. My boys have outgrown our beloved stroller of countless miles, the Mountain Buggy Urban Double. I barter with a woodworker, in exchange for finishing the bookcase and two other pieces. Finally, after a decade and a half, I have a truly matching set of bookcases. They’re lovely. And full.

Old bookcase

Newly finished matching bookcase

Favorite Book from Childhood: “The Practical Princess”

Saturday, October 3rd, 2009

Inspired by the question posed by The Morning News about favorite books of childhood, and because I was too overwhelmed to send them my response, I dug through my kids’ shelves to unearth my copy of The Practical Princess by Jay Williams (better known as an author of the Danny Dunn series for children), illustrated by Friso Henstra.

This certainly was one of my favorite books as a girl, and is the one I choose as an adult because it’s entertaining and clever for all ages. Published in 1969, it’s now out of print. The princess of the title is a formidable heroine, and the main reason this book has endured in my affection:

Princess Bedelia was as lovely as the moon shining upon a lake full of waterlilies. She was as graceful as a cat leaping. And she was also extremely practical.

When she was born, three fairies had come to her cradle to give her gifts as was usual in that country. The first fairy had given her beauty. The second had given her grace. But the third, who was a wise old creature, had said, “I give her common sense.”

“I don’t think much of that gift,” said King Ludwig, raising his eyebrows. “What good is common sense to a princess? All she needs is charm.”

Nevertheless, when Bedelia was eighteen years old, something happened which made the king change his mind.

A dragon moved into the neighborhood.

Of course the dragon demands the princess as his due. How Bedelia responds to this dilemma is both laugh-out-loud funny and smart. When she is subsequently confronted with an unpleasant suitor, she also brings her wits and sense of humor to bear with excellent results.

The Practical Princess does a lot of things, and does them well. It turns fairy-tale tropes on their head, like the princess-demanding dragon, the ugly suitor, the difficult tasks, the suitor’s attempt to take what he cannot have, and a princely rescue. A more recent book, Princess Smarty-Pants, tried to do these same things, to worse effect, I thought. Bedelia is extremely likable, and an excellent role model for young girls, far superior to those namby-pamby Disney ones, who make me glad I have two boys and don’t have to fight against their encroaching influence. Also unlike those Disney damsels, Bedelia is not skinny with a Barbie-like bod. She wears a smashing orange empire-waist dress with pink boots, and could actually be pear shaped! Hensta’s illustrations are distinctive, a mixture of 60’s mod and cross-hatched detail, with brilliant colors that glow forty years on.

Keep an eye out for this treasure in library collections and used bookstores, especially if you suspect that the Disney-ification of the princess trope is as insidious as I think it is. I feel thrilled and fortunate to still have my childhood copy to share with my boys.

Old Books; New Covers!

Saturday, August 29th, 2009

From Design Sponge: Last fall, Penguin Classics released a series of ten classics exclusive to Waterstone’s in the UK with covers designed by Coralie Bickford-Smith.

penguin classics series 1

In November of this year in the US, Penguin Classics will release eight classics from that first set (not Madame Bovary or Crime and Punishment).

Great Expectations

Sense & Sensibility


Tess of the D’Urbervilles

Pride & Prejudice

Jane Eyre

Picture of Dorian Gray

Wuthering Heights

According to Design Sponge, volumes from the first set will be available at Anthropologie and urban Outfitters; I’ve linked above to the volumes at (search for Coralie Bickford-Smith + Penguin Classics.)

In the UK, a second exclusive series for Waterstone’s will be available this October.

penguin classics 2 set

No word yet on when (if?) the second set’ll arrive stateside.

As I was researching this, I found a striking set of Penguin Classics with covers by fashion illustrator Ruben Toledo:

Ruben Toledo pride and prejudciePride and Prejudice

Ruben Toledo Scarlet LetterThe Scarlet Letter

Ruben Toledo Wuthering HeightsWuthering Heights

For the even more striking front AND back covers see Stylehive.

Penguin also has its series of “graphic classics” with covers by comic-book artists. Their focus on design continues to provide a variety of books-as-covetable-objects.

(I spent loads of time researching them and putting this together because I had a hunch you’d appreciate the images and links; was I correct?)

“Mad Men” Season 3

Saturday, August 15th, 2009

Heads up: Mad Men season 3 debuts this Sunday on AMC at 10p/9 Central. Don returned to Betty, hat in hand (literally) at the end of last season. There will be a jump ahead in time, so we’ll see when that lands us with the Drapers and the crew at Sterling Cooper.

For an incisive analysis of Season 2’s camera work, Film Freak Central has a great retrospective and comparison to Hitchcock. I can’t believe it didn’t occur to me before that Betty is so like Hitchcock’s icy tormented blondes.

And for fun, design a Mad Men icon of yourself here if you haven’t already. Here’s mine, though I’m annoyed that they don’t have a hair shade that’s outright red, like Joan’s:

Girl Detective Mad Men Icon

“Strangers on a Train” (1951)

Thursday, May 7th, 2009

This week’s selection in Take Up Production’s “First, You Need a Crime” series was Hitchcock’s Strangers on a Train, which I’d never seen. It’s one of his earlier films, in black and white, and before his penchant for tormenting icy blonds turned into a fetish. Farley Granger is Guy Haines, a handsome, famous young tennis player approached by the garrulous Bruno on a train. Haines has marriage trouble; Bruno has some deep and abiding father issues and tells Haines he’d like to swap murders with him. Haines is understandably put off, and politely hurries away. Bruno, though, won’t be dissuaded.

The movie is full of fascinating, funny, creepy and disturbing stuff. Raymond Chandler worked on the screenplay, based on a novel by Patricia Highsmith. Hitchcock’s daughter Patricia is Barbara, who has some of the best lines and takes on the role of girl detective.

Senator Morton: Poor unfortunate girl.
Barbara Morton: She was a tramp.
Senator Morton: She was a human being. Let me remind you that even the most unworthy of us has a right to life and the pursuit of happiness.
Barbara Morton: From what I hear she pursued it in all directions.

Girls who wear glasses don’t have a good time of it, though. There are several iconic images, such as one of the crowd at a tennis match, a reflection in eyeglasses, and a merry-go-round scene that makes my eyes widen and jaw drop even in memory. There’s subtext on social and political power, and of homosexuality. This is a great Hitchcock film, and one I’m glad I got to see on film in a theater.

IMDB lists a remake slated for 2011, but a Google search turned up paltry evidence, so let’s hope it just goes away.

“Dollhouse” update

Saturday, May 2nd, 2009

I agree with many viewers that Joss Whedon’s Dollhouse is getting better as it goes, and hope Fox has the sense to renew both it and Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles. I think they make a great Friday double feature, especially now that Battlestar Galactica is over (sniff) and when they’re on, they’re on.

In general, I think the best Dollhouse eps have been the ones that focus on the mythology, and not just Echo.

I have some questions about last night’s episode “Briar Rose”, and since Sepinwall hasn’t posted yet, I’m squirming with impatience to wonder online about them. Don’t read on if you haven’t yet seen it, though I’ll try to be vague.

  • Wow, how about that reveal? Nice one.
  • I thought the “Victor” actor did a great job channeling the other character he was imprinted with.
  • Good fight scene with Ballard. Penikett practice Muay Thai and does his own fighting. I didn’t notice if the other actor was doing his own fighting.
  • Did you notice that “Whiskey” was an address to someone in the room, not a request for a drink? (Whiskey is W in the NATO’s phonetic alphabet word, the naming device for the dolls.) Which of those present is a doll? Topher, Adele, Boyd, Dr. Saunders? I think they strongly hinted in the “Spy in the House of Love” ep that Adele could be a doll. Are they all dolls?
  • And the final scene in the elevator. As they say on 30 Rock
  • “Your NPR Name”

    Thursday, April 23rd, 2009

    At Lianablog, she creates a formula to make your own NPR name. I have to jigger things around a bit to incorporate my middle initial into my first name, but it DOES work. As for the smallest foreign town I’ve visited, I’ll have to pull out an atlas. (Link from The Morning News)

    Ooh, I think I’ve got the last name: Saffron Walden.

    New Covers for Chandler’s Best-Known Books

    Friday, March 27th, 2009

    At the Penguin blog, “In Search of Chandler,” the fascinating tale behind Penguin’s new set of covers for Raymond Chandler’s most famous novels on the 50th anniversary of his death:

    Back in summer 2008, when we came up with the idea of reissuing a selection of four of Chandler’s most well-known books (The Big Sleep, Farewell, My Lovely, The Little Sister, and The Long Good-bye) we vaguely waved away the issue of getting hold of the actual covers….Easy, I thought. We get in touch with the Bodleian, they dig up copies of all of the books from the stacks, and then they whack the jackets on a scanner and whizz them over to our ftp site for me to send to our art department. And then I go home at 5.30 and run around fields and eat strawberries.


    It’s a great story, and took me a little while to track down links to the new covers at Penguin UK, as they’re not yet for sale:

    The Little Sister
    The Lady in the Lake
    The Long Goodbye
    Farewell, My Lovely

    The Penguin blog link was at Confessions of an Idiosyncratic Mind, whose “Ten Things to Read on the 50th Anniversary of Raymond Chandler’s Death” was linked to by The Morning News.

    Seven Movies in Seven Days

    Tuesday, February 24th, 2009

    I’d like to thank the Academy for a shorter, more entertaining Oscar show this year. I’d also like to thank my husband G. Grod for enabling my pre-Oscar movie-watching compulsion. I saw SEVEN movies. In SEVEN days. Talk about indulgence.

    G and I watched The Visitor together. It might not have been his pick for the flick to watch on his birthday, but we both enjoyed it. Richard Jenkins is winning in this quiet movie about a lonely man moved into engagement by the people he meets, and the injustice of post-9/11 US immigration laws (or lack thereof). It’s an excellent rental.

    Then we did a complete 180, like a U-turn on the Batcycle, and watched The Dark Knight. 5yo Drake and 3yo Guppy were difficult about going to bed. I’d wanted to start watching early, since it’s so long. Oh, well, I thought. We’ll just watch part of it. Ha. As if. Two hours and forty-five minutes later… Dark Knight is loud, scary, provocative, in your face–the antithesis of a quiet movie. Thus, I find it kinda perfect for the times. Great plot, character, actors, etc. This WAS one of the best movies of the year, no matter what Oscar said.

    Then I hijacked my kids in my Oscar compulsion and we watched Wall E. And were amazed all over again. Animation? I don’t think so. Science that looks like magic? You betcha. Remember all the critics who wondered if kids would like it since there was no dialogue for most of the movie? Watch it with a kid. The kids GET it. They LOVE it. How can you not? Best movie of the year? For me, yep.

    Next was The Reader. Woo. Another movie mash-up whiplash. I saw it at St. Anthony Main, not usually my first pick of theaters, and there was an enormous night-before-Oscars line. But the staff did a great job–moved people through efficiently and with smiles, and delayed the starts of movies so no one missed out. As for the movie, I don’t think the world needs another Holocaust movie. Or another movie that shows that people can do horrible things but still be good people. Ooh, look, it’s complicated. However, Winslet is still living in my head in that role. Even though her turn in Revolutionary Road seemed technically better, her role in The Reader has quietly insinuated itself into my head.

    Then, after weeks of attempts, I finally made it to the ONE theater in town showing Rachel Getting Married. It was a lot darker, and less funny, than I expected. It felt exactly like attending an often-uncomfortable but still happy wedding weekend. But the performances, especially Hathaway’s, were more than worth it. Hathaway completely embodied her haunted, selfish, struggling ex-junkie, hatchet-hair, slept-in-my-kohl-liner look. She’s played an ingenue before? Coulda fooled me. Rosemarie DeWitt (Midge from Mad Men) was appropriately loving and exhausted as her long-suffering sister. But Debra Winger was the surprise standout for me–so cold and brittle I felt frost-bitten just watching her.

    At which point G. Grod thought, “whew, the Oscars are tonight. She’ll stop going out all the time.” Then he looked at the calendar, and said, “D’oh!” Because last night was Take Up Productions noir double feature at the Heights, with Criss Cross, and The Killers.

    I blame my friend Kate for my compulsion to mix Dots and popcorn, but thank her for the guilty deliciousness. As for the films, there weren’t a lot of happy endings for Burt Lancaster and his femme fatales, but their pain was our gain. Unfortunately, I couldn’t quite manage 3+ hours of movie, and was nodding off by the end. I’m off to look up the ending to The Killers, and rest up for the next double feature, The Blue Dahlia and The Glass Key, in two weeks. The Big Clock is next week. Other than that I’ll try to give G. a break and switch gears back to reading, and transfer my consumption compulsion to the books for the Morning News 2009 Tournament of Books.

    Lovely Links

    Friday, February 13th, 2009

    Oh, how bitter I used to be about Valentine’s Day! Less bitter than I was in the old days, I’ve learned not to wait for someone else to give me what I want or need. It’s important to have pretty, delicious things in life, otherwise we STAY bitter, I think.

    Here are a few links to neat items for you, a loved one, or a mom you know, for Valentine’s Day, any other occasion, or to create your own:

    Rogue Chocolatier chocolates: Artisan chocolates created from bean to bar in micro-batches in NE Minneapolis. On sale at local shops such as Surdyk’s.

    Chocolat Celeste: Truly beautiful chocolates crafted in St. Paul, MN.

    Legacy Chocolates: Treasures from neighboring Wisconsin. Try their Potion 9 chocolate sauce over Sonny’s vanilla ice cream. Divine.

    B.T. McElrath chocolates: I can’t pick one flavor to recommend: passionfruit, cinnamon/star anise, green tea, dark chocolate truffles. All are eye-rollingly good.

    Pretty flowers. No need to buy for Valentine’s Day, when it will cost extra. When you do though, skip the cheap stuff: mums, daisies, carnations, baby’s breath, ferns. Go for just a few beautiful striking blooms, instead.

    Bags! I’m going to venture outside of the Twin Cities and recommend Queen Bee Creations in Seattle, carried by Dabble in NE Minneapolis, among other stores. Super cute, well-made non-leather bags, wallets and accessories. Bonus, they just created stylish bike panniers that also have a strap for shoulder carrying!

    Local jewelry! Northeast’s Dabble also carries a good selection of locally crafted jewelry, like the lovely, affordable items from Gazelle Beads that I can’t stop buying as gifts.

    Shoes! I don’t know anyone who’d turn down a new pair of shoes. Something fancy and impractical, like strappy designer heels from Nordstrom Rack. Or warm, stylish boots to perk up the tail end of winter from Red Wing boots in Minnesota.

    Use your imagination. No need to go for broke, especially in this economy; often the lovely little gifts are remembered most.

    Roger Ebert, on Elevation

    Sunday, January 18th, 2009

    or, why movies are more likely to be great in the theater than at home. (Link from The Morning News.)

    Studies have indicated that Elevation is triggered by the stimulus of our vagus nerve, described by Wikipedia as the only nerve that starts in the brainstem and extends down below the head, to the neck, chest and abdomen, where it contributes to the innervation of the viscera. It must be involved in what we call “visceral feelings,” defined as “relating to deep inward feelings rather than to the intellect.”

    The vagus nerve would certainly account for what I feel, which is as much physical than mental. For years, when asked “how do you know a movie is great?” I’ve had the same reply: I feel a tingling in my spine. People look at me blankly. I explain that I feel an actual physical sensation that does not depend on the abstract quality of the movie, but on–well, my visceral feelings.

    “Henry V” 17 January 2009, Guthrie Theater, Minneapolis

    Sunday, January 18th, 2009

    It was with some trepidation that I bought tickets for the Guthrie’s staging of Shakespeare’s Henry V. Branagh’s 1990 film is a favorite of mine; I think I saw it a half dozen times in the theater. And I was underwhelmed by the last two productions I saw at the Guthrie: A Midsummer Night’s Dream and Jane Eyre. So I was more than pleasantly surprised to discover that this production, by The Acting Company/Guthrie Theater, was a treat.

    This play, with multiple addresses to the audience exhorting them to imagine, was well set in the black-box Dowling Studio. The staging was spare but effective: a two-story semicircle with moving walls, and a few rolling tables that doubled as props and sound makers. All actors but the lead played multiple parts, from two to five. Matthew Amendt, as Henry V, can be forgiven for not doubling; he was in almost every scene of the 2 hour, 50 minute play. His youth and good looks suited him for the part, and though he struggled a bit with the Welsh accent and had a tendency to over-enunciate, his delivery and presence were a good match for the charismatic new king. The rest of the cast, moving in and out of parts, and throughout various iteratrions of their multiple-zippered garments, were equally strong. William Sturdivant as Fluellen, stood out particularly for his presence and delivery. In only one instance did I confuse one player’s characters. Overall, the speed of their changes coupled with the effective switches in character was both impressive and just plain fun to watch.

    The scene in which Katherine learns English was staged strangely, with several of the cast used as demonstrative props. For me, it didn’t gel with the mroe straightforward storytelling of the rest of the production. But the scene at the end of Harry with Katherine more than compensated. Amendt and Kelly Curran were funny and sweet in one of my favorite scenes by the Bard.

    This production starts in Minneapolis and will tour the US. It’s worth seeking out. If you’re in the Twin Cities don’t dawdle; it’s only here until 1 February 2009.

    Only a few reviews are out there. Here’s a pro, and a con.

    Titles Telling Stories

    Sunday, September 28th, 2008

    The Sorted Books Project takes a group of books from a library and groups them so their titles tell a story. (Link from Boing Boing)
    Sorted Books: Shark Journal

    Doesn’t this make you want to sift through the spines on your shelves?

    Our Brains, on Shakespeare

    Sunday, August 3rd, 2008

    At the Literary Review, Philip Davis argues that reading Shakespeare changes our brains in the moment, not by discussing it after the fact. (Link from Arts & Letters Daily)

    Shakespeare is stretching us, making us more alive, at a level of neural excitement never fully exorcised by later conceptualisation; he is opening up the possibility of further peaks, new potential pathways or developments.

    He offers early studies of brain activity to back up his theory. I’ll be interested to see if these experiments are sound and stand up to scrutiny. I’d also be interested to learn if there’s a difference in the brain’s response to reading Shakespeare versus hearing/seeing Shakespeare performed, as it was intended.

    Three Great Gadgets

    Friday, August 1st, 2008

    Normally, I’m anti-gadget. They clutter the house, they break, they create more work than they save. Yet I’ve been very happy with three recent purchases:

    Oxo Cherry Pitter Cherry pitter: 2yo Guppy doesn’t have to negotiate the pits, and both he and 4yo Drake love to use it–it’s a new favorite reward for good behavior. We eat Door County cherries straight, or use them in homemade vanilla ice cream (like this recipe from Baking Beauties) with Potion 9 chocolate on top. Mmm.

    MandolineMandoline: A $10 purchase at Target, this made-in-China one is flimsy, but it’s getting lots of use in spite of that. The thin slicer attachment does great work on radishes (for eating with sweet butter on fresh bakery bread), cucumbers, and carrots for salads. When it breaks, I think I’m likely to spring for a better-made one.

    Lemon Juicer Lemon/Lime juicer: I’ve used a stainless juicer with basin, a Robocop-lookin’ thing, and a reamer over a sieve over a bowl. But this thing gets maximum juice and maximum flavor from both lemons and limes. I think it’s strong enough to get out some of the oil from the rind. Great for guacamole:

    Guacamole (from a recipe from Cooks Illustrated)

    Makes about 1 1/2 cups
    2 small avocados , ripe, (preferably Haas)
    1 tablespoon minced red onion or scallion
    1 small clove garlic , minced or pressed through garlic press
    1/2 small jalapeño chile , minced (about 1 1/2 teaspoons), ribs and seeds removed to temper heat
    2 tablespoons minced fresh cilantro or Italian parsley leaves
    Table salt
    1 tablespoon lime juice from 1 lime

    1. Halve 1 avocado, remove pit, and scoop flesh into medium bowl. Using fork, mash lightly with onion, garlic, jalapeño, cilantro, and 1/8 teaspoon salt until just combined.

    2. Halve and pit remaining avocado. Using a dinner knife, carefully make 1/2-inch cross-hatch incisions in flesh, cutting down to but not through skin, (see illustrations below). Using a soupspoon, gently scoop flesh from skin; transfer to bowl with mashed avocado mixture. Sprinkle lime juice over and mix lightly with fork until combined but still chunky. Adjust seasoning with salt, if necessary, and serve. (Can be covered with plastic wrap, pressed directly onto surface of mixture, and refrigerated up to 1 day. Return guacamole to room temperature, removing plastic wrap just before serving.)

    The Weird Science of Chocolate Chip Cookies

    Tuesday, July 15th, 2008

    My NYT chocolate chip cookieLast week, the New York Times ran an article on the pursuit of the “perfect” chocolate chip cookie, and included a recipe adapted from chocolatier Jacques Torres (Link from ALoTT5MA). It touched on people’s obsessions with the cookie, as well as things that can be done to tinker with the classic, back-of-the-Nestle-bag recipe.

    Torres, for example, refrigerates his dough for 36 hours before baking. Food scientist Shirley Corriher, author of the excellent Cookwise and the upcoming Bakewise, laughed when she heard this, and said it was a clever way to dry out the dough and bind the flour and butter, thus creating a better-textured thick cookie that’s crisp on the outside and chewy in the middle.

    Of course, I tried this recipe. I happened to have both cake and bread flour in the pantry, since those were the two types specified, rather than the more easily found all purpose. I used Guittard semi-sweet chips (which my grocery co-op sells in bulk), rather than spending $20+ on either of the chocolates the recipe called for, here and here. And because the timing was inconvenient, I made one batch about 31 hours after refrigeration, and the other about 47. The latter batch browned more nicely and turned out better. The earlier batch tasted more like sugar cookies (albeit very good ones) with chocolate chips. The latter batch tasted like excellent chocolate chip cookies. Even so, I probably won’t make this recipe again. The two special flours, plus the long refrigeration time are inconvenient. Even worse, I thought, was how difficult it was to scoop out the refrigerated dough. I tried letting it warm a bit, but that produced the lightest cookies in the bunch.

    Instead, I’m returning to what has been my go-to chocolate chip cookie recipe for about three years, Pam (not Pamela!) Anderson’s Perfect Chocolate Chip Cookies. Making the dough is easy (though use unbleached all purpose; there’s no reason for bleached). Rather than refrigerating the dough, she says to scoop out dough balls, freeze them for at least 30 minutes, then bake first at 400F, then finish at 350F. It has a few more steps than the back-of-the-bag recipe, but it’s well worth it. The cookie, as promised, delivers puff, crisp, and chew. It browns nicely without having to wait 36 HOURS! as in the Torres recipe. Also, it’s a marvelous vehicle for experimentation with additions other than chocolate chips or chunks. I’ve even added some oats and wheat bran before with excellent results. Further, the dough balls can be refrigerated for a long time. I’ve made a batch after thirty minutes, then another weeks later. This is a versatile recipe with a few weird twists that produces great results without long waits, specialty flours, or expensive chocolate.

    Perfect Chocolate Chip Cookies by Pam Anderson from USA Weekend

    2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
    1 tsp. baking powder
    1/2 tsp. baking soda
    2 large eggs
    1 tsp. vanilla
    3/4 tsp. salt
    14 Tbs. butter (2 sticks minus 2 Tbs.), cut into chunks
    3/4 cup dark brown sugar
    3/4 cup granulated sugar
    2 Tbs. flavorless oil, such as vegetable or canola
    1 1/2 cups chocolate chips or 8 ounces good-quality bittersweet or semisweet chocolate cut into 1/4-inch chunks, about 1 1/2 cup
    1 cup each chocolate chunks or chips and 1 cup toasted nuts (pecans, walnuts, unsalted peanuts or macadamias)

    Hot tip: If you have a 3/4-cup measuring cup, it’s the only one you’ll need. The sugars measure 3/4 cup each, the chip quantity is 1 1/2 cups (3/4 cup times 2), and the flour is 2 1/4 cups (3/4 cup times 3).

    Mix flour, baking powder and baking soda in a medium bowl; set aside. Mix eggs, vanilla and salt in a small bowl; set aside. Microwave butter on high power until just melted but not hot, 30 to 45 seconds; set aside. Mix brown and granulated sugars in a large bowl. Add butter and oil; stir until smooth. Add egg mixture and stir until smooth and creamy. Add dry ingredients and stir until smooth. Stir in chocolate and optional nuts. Using a 1 1/2-ounce (3 Tbs.) ice cream scoop, spoon 16 dough balls onto a pan that will fit in your freezer. (Don’t worry if the dough balls are crowded. They pull apart when frozen.) Freeze until dough is hard, about 30 minutes. (Once dough balls are frozen, they can be stored in freezer bags up to 3 months and baked as desired.)

    Meanwhile, adjust oven rack to upper middle position and heat oven to 400 degrees. Working in half batches, place 8 frozen dough balls onto a parchment-lined cookie sheet. Bake until set, but not brown, 8 to 10 minutes. Reduce oven temperature to 350 degrees. Continue to bake until cookies are golden-brown around the edges and lightly brown on the top, about 10 minutes longer. Let cookies cool on cookie sheet. Repeat, preheating oven to 400 degrees again before baking second batch.

    Cookies can be stored in an airtight container up to 5 days.

    Servings: 16 large cookies.

    : Boing Boing discusses Ideas in Food’s experiment with vacuum sealing the NYT recipe’s dough, which significantly reduced the 36-hour refrigeration. The vacuum-sealed dough looked much different than what I’d made, which was significantly lighter in color. And the cookies looked different also. Theirs were browner, but high in the middle and thin on the edges. Mine (see above) were a uniform 1/4 inch from center to edge.