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Cooking With Myra: Spending time with family, reminiscing

By By Myra Starkey
April 9, 2013 at midnight
Updated April 8, 2013 at 11:09 p.m.

New York Times Chocolate Chip Cookies

Adapted from Jacques Torres, recipe from the NY Times

• 2 cups minus 2 Tbsp. (8 1/2 oz.) cake flour

• 1 2/3 cups (81/2 ounces) bread flour

• 1 1/4 tsp. baking soda

• 1 1/2 tsp. baking powder

• 1 1/2 tsp. course salt

• 2 1/2 sticks (11/4

• 1 1/4 cups (10 oz.) light brown sugar

• 1 cup plus 2 Tbsp. (8 oz.) granulated sugar

• 2 large eggs

• 2 tsp. natural vanilla extract

• 1 1/4 pounds bittersweet chocolate disks, at least 60 percent cacao content

• Sea salt

Sift flours, baking soda, baking powder and salt into a bowl. Set aside. Using a mixer fitted with paddle attachment, cream butter and sugars together until very light for about five minutes. Add eggs, one at a time, mixing well after each addition. Stir in the vanilla. Reduce speed to low, add dry ingredients and mix until just combined, five-10 seconds. Drop chocolate pieces in and incorporate them without breaking them. Press plastic wrap against dough and refrigerate for 24-36 hours. Dough may be used in batches and can be refrigerated for up to 72 hours. When ready to bake, preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or a nonstick baking mat. Set aside. Scoop six 31/2-ounce mounds of dough (the size of generous golf balls) onto baking sheet, making sure to turn horizontally any chocolate pieces that are poking up; it will make for a more attractive cookie. Sprinkle lightly with sea salt and bake until golden brown but still soft, 18-20 minutes. Transfer sheet to a wire rack for 10 minutes, then slip cookies off of cookie sheet onto another rack to cool a bit more. Repeat with remaining dough or reserve dough, refrigerated, for baking remaining batches the next day. Eat warm.

It was just like old times as we traveled to Fredericksburg for Easter. Only now our kids are not little kids anymore but rather young adults.

We had a house there in the '90s, when our children were from toddler to elementary-school age. When they are that young, their whole life sort of revolves around you. I think that begins to change once they reach junior high.

I have many happy memories of Taylor and I driving to Fredericksburg on Friday evenings in our old red suburban. Our three children would be strapped in the second seat, hypnotized by Barney videos, occasionally calling out the usual, "Are we there yet? How much longer?"

We bought an old rock house there in 1993, and it took about a year to restore it. We traveled there about every other weekend with the kids in tow and a list of home improvement projects. We worked some, and they played, but most of the time, we just did things together.

Our real life of responsibility back home seemed a world away. They roamed around on the five acres that surrounded the house and made forts in the brush. They loved to climb on the roof of the old chicken house. We would go on hikes at Enchanted Rock, roller skate in the street, bicycle down the long hill or go to the city pool.

I remember, once, we had a big pile of dirt dumped in the yard so we could fill in the low spots.

The kids thought this was about the best thing ever and spent countless days digging holes, making dirt houses, bulldozing and creating mountain roads with their Tonka toys and playing "king of the mountain."

They'd make mud pies and get totally wild with the water hose until they were so covered with mud that we could only tell them apart by their height.

When the day turned to night, they chased fireflies in our yard and begged to stay up late. We would get a family movie to watch, and they would fall asleep about halfway through. It did not take much to please them.

It seems like our dining didn't vary much there. Easter weekend was spent in Fredericksburg at Taylor's sister's house. Almost all the Starkey clan gathered there with children, grown and growing, to celebrate the day.

Our family arrived in waves. Hannah, our only daughter, came in from Houston and drove with us. Miles and Spencer made the trip from Austin, with Spencer catching a ride there so he could be with Miles.

Hannah's husband had a bachelor party and was unable to come, so we were back to our original family of five. We rented a bed and breakfast house located on Creek Street. The house was small yet perfect for our family.

It seemed that the kids were as excited to be there with us as we were. It seemed like a lifetime ago that we had been back to Fredericksburg. Since we arrived late Friday, we ate supper at the Fredericksburg Brewery on Main Street. Hannah and I had shopped those streets when she was about 7 years old.

We sometimes made a day just for the two of us, shopping and having lunch together at the Peachtree and generally doing girl stuff. The boys would spend their day with dad, chopping down trees and lighting things on fire.

It is funny how one perceives those days. To me, it seems like yesterday. I remember the kids growing so fast that the clothes I left in the drawers did not fit a month later.

When I asked Hannah, she said being in Fredericksburg seemed like a really long time ago, and the boys agreed. There was lots of "remember when," followed by laughter.

We took their pictures by our old house, and they said it seemed bigger then. We ate breakfast as George's old German bakery where they ordered "lacey potato pancakes, eggs and bacon" and this time had no trouble eating everything on their plate.

Nothing had changed in the restaurant, and somehow this was of great comfort to me. Their feet could now touch the floor, and they could read the menu without assistance. There used to be a man who tied his poodle to the newspaper stand, and he was gone, but the newspaper stand was still there. The kids remembered it all, and I knew that all those years of making memories were worth it.

We visited the church we attended, and our old friends could not believe how much the kids had grown. We fell back into the pattern of remembering their children's names but found it hard to believe how fast time had passed, taking our small children and replacing them with adults.

Our family time with the other Starkeys was spent eating a lot of food. We hiked a canyon, and some of the younger cousins swam in the creek. Taylor's parents hiked the trails with us.

My knees were hurting, so I was truly amazed by their stamina. We sat on 10-ton granite rocks and basked in the sunshine remembering other Easter weekends and the memories of those times.

We combined our talents for the dinner table and had an Italian feast. Taylor's sister, Mignon, and her family spent a year in Italy, and she is the expert of Italian food.

I made focaccia and baked it in an outdoor clay oven (my first time), and Hannah and I prepared penne pasta with green peas, green onions, bacon crumbles and parmesan cheese mixed with cream.

Mignon and Melanie prepared a olive fettuccine pasta with sauteed vegetables (divine). Shamefully, I cannot remember dessert, but I am quite sure I devoured that also.

I cherish the times we have together as a family knowing that every moment is precious. Things change in life so quickly. None of us know what tomorrow brings. Hopefully, it will be more happy memories, but generally some sadness also comes our way. The weekend with the kids was so special for us. It was if time had stood still, yet all of us had gotten older.

I look forward to more life, more memories, more Easter celebrations, more laughter and more times with family.

I baked these cookies for my kids to take back home. I am reprinting a popular cookie recipe from the New York Times.

The cookies are delicious and the recipe requested frequently. Enjoy.

Myra Starkey lives in Victoria. Write her in care of the Advocate, P.O. Box 1518, Victoria, TX 77901, or email



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