The Tao of Chocolate Chip Cookies


Perhaps you have heard of the classic Greek elements of earth, air, fire and water?  These have been long thought to be the building blocks of life as we know it.  Modern day equivalents might be WD-40, duct tape, coffee and chocolate.  But every once in a while, you come across something that transcends the ordinary, contains mystical power beyond reason, and crosses cultural and geopolitical boundaries as freely as the wind blows pollen.

I’m talking about chocolate chip cookies.

Now, I am not going to repeat the recipe I used this morning. It is printed on the back of every bag of chocolate chips made. There are slight variations to be sure, but my go-to version descends from the 1930 originator, Ruth Graves Wakefield and her Toll House Inn.  Stories vary on how her chocolate chip cookie came about, but one thing is clear – the good folks at the inn could not possible have realized how their cookie could change the world.

What do we learn by baking chocolate chip cookies?

Sure, we learn that by mixing together a few tasty ingredients, adding a little heat, and waiting for ten minutes, delicious cookies will result. But what do we really learn?

Discipline.  You can’t leave anything out. You can’t bypass a step.

Discipline – it keep you from eating the cookie dough!


Patience.  With my particular oven, set at 375 degrees F., a dozen cookies takes 10 minutes to bake properly. Any less and they are not sufficiently browned; any more and they will have that unpleasant, charred piece of firewood taste.

Patience – yes – the cookies “do” need to cool for at least a few minutes once baked. Really. You can wait.


Humility. I may think I am a smart cookie, but I doubt I could have thought up chocolate chip cookies on my own. In fact, chocolate chip cookies, in my opinion, come from heaven. Mrs. Wakefield was just the messenger, a modern day culinary prophet if you will. Perhaps she should be made a saint? Worth considering, me thinks.  This is on par with the first goat herder that decided to put coffee beans in hot water.

Love. Who remembers making cookies as a child, learning from grandma or mom? That’s love on a pan, people. And for those who did not experience that rite of passage, why not start the tradition now? (check out the next paragraph.)

Empathy. We like to eat cookies of all types, just ask the Girl Scouts. Each year, in the Spring, they sell literally tons of cookies in order to fund their programs. But we as individuals also bake cookies to simply give away. In December, millions of cookies are sent to friends and relatives (notice the distinction?) One of the best cookie giveaway programs ever involves volunteer bakers from across the land, firing up their ovens in November and December  to produce truckloads of cookies for people who are in prison. Sponsored by the Kairos Prison Ministry, this cookie giveaway program may do more for rehabilitation than any government sponsored program.

So where to from here?

Let’s see if we can harness the power of chocolate chip cookies for the side of good.  If you know someone who could use a little gift of joy, why not bake some chocolate chip cookies and send a tin to them?

Sometimes words are not enough. And as one person recently told me: sometimes it’s best to say nothing and just send cookies.

Now get baking, good people!

Don’t make war – make cookies!


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