Sunday, January 31, 2010

Wait For It

Last week, I had to have one of those, "What is it that you want out of life?" talks with a student. He told me he wanted a nice house that he didn't have to share with the rest of his family. He's a good kid, a charmer with an infrequent but beautiful smile and impeccable manners, and I want good things for him, but what I want most is for him to understand that if he wants that nice house, or anything else material or otherwise, he's the one who is going to have to make it happen. The bad stuff happens to everyone and often unexpectedly; the good stuff we have to make happen ourselves.

He wants to neither wait nor work. He wants the good stuff now, without doing anything for it. I asked him for input, for his opinion, but he shrugged his shoulders. His face perfected passivity as I talked earnestly. "I know, I know," he said. He doesn't.

Complex, coconutty, and just the right amount of salty, these are a grown up version of chocolate chip cookies. These cookies aren't for my student—for the cookies to taste best, one must wait a day or two to eat them. Delayed gratification in the form of a cookie: work on them today to eat them tomorrow.

Cococcino Mochanut Cookies

You will need:
3/4 cup sugar
3/4 cup dark brown sugar
1 cup butter
2 teaspoons instant coffee granules
2 eggs
2 1/4 cups flour (if eggs are medium) 2 1/2 cups flour (if eggs are large)
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 cup large shred coconut
1/2 lb dark chocolate

To make the cookies:
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit.

Spread the coconut shreds in a single layer on a cookie sheet. Place the sheet in the heating oven and let the coconut toast just for 3-5 minutes, or until the edges are beginning to brown. Keep your eye on the oven so that you don't end up with burned shredded nuts. Ha! Remove the coconut from the oven and let it cool while you put together the rest of the dough.

Chop the chocolate coarsely. Don't worry if every piece is not as large as you like—the small shreds melt into the dough and flavor it beautifully.

In a large bowl with a beater, cream together the sugars and the butter until fluffy. Add the coffee granules and beat until well mixed. Crack the eggs into the butter mixture, and beat until the mixture is homogeneously fluffy.

In a small bowl, stir together the flour, salt, and baking soda. Gradually add the flour mixture into the butter mixture and stir just until combined. Pour in the vanilla, coconut, and chopped chocolate. Stir the mixture together until the ingredients are evenly mixed.

Using a large spoon, drop clumps of dough on a parchment lined or silicon lined cookie sheet, leaving at least two inches of space between each. Place the sheet in the oven, and cook for ten minutes, or until the edges and peaks are beginning to brown. Remove the pan from the oven, and use a spatula to place the cookies on a rack to cool.

Once cool, place the cookies in large container with a sealing lid. The lid helps keep the cookies' balance of crunch and chew. Wait a day or three before eating. Then, enjoy the payoff.

That gratification sure is sweet.


Cafe Pasadena said...

Thanks for your comment. Mine must've put cookies in your head. I love your coffee/mocha in these!

I think one reason why many, many people turn out not to be happy with their jobs is that - as teenagers - they are expect to figure what they wanna do "for the resta their lives!" Or, what is your Major?

Job dissatisfaction, stress. Wishing or dreaming they could bee this or that instead.

Imho, young people in the 17-22 age group often are not mature enuf to make that kinda decision - certainly not give their best answer to such a major question.

They have not yet found what really motivates them which could provide a living. So, schooling & jobs become WORK.

Lucy said...

Sooo good.

Waiting is a tricky concept for younger (will ya listen to me...'younger'...oh dear, I am 'older' now...) people. Peter's boys have no way of understanding it (19-year-old Edward's the worst) and I'm sure I didn't then, but I do now.

That said, now I have to wait a whole week for my oven door to be screwed back on. Delicious.

karen said...

I agree with Cafe Pasadena to a certain extent, but my brother and I were just having a conversation about how he wishes (at 33) that he had been pushed more to make actual choices about his direction earlier in life. That then maybe now, at least he would have a solid direction, even if he wanted to change course. both my brothers are in their 30's and kind of "waffley".

BTW, most of my garlic came up... except the Red Toch I won from you! Only one of 6 I planted took.... :(

Soilman said...

Sounds like a great recipe!

I see a lot of youngsters like this. I berate them for it (in the nicest possible way) for all the reasons you cite.

But at the same time, there's a part of me that wants to rebel, personally, against 'jam tomorrow' maturity. I spent my entire life up to the age of about 35 living in the future – being sensible, working hard, educating myself, enduring crap pay/conditions in order to qualify for better ones later etc – and now I feel I lost a lot of years... for not much.

Life changes SO fast nowadays that even if you do work hard at school and college, you're likely to graduate into a world where everything you learned is already out of date.

I'm not really surprised that youngsters today look so hard for the shortcuts. The long way round looks increasingly unrewarding.

Stefaneener said...

Sounds good. My favorite cookie is a mocha pecan shortbread. Coffee just improves most.

I didn't really learn to buckle down and work until I was in my early 30s. Sometimes it just takes long. But I did discover what a joy it was. Maybe there's hope.

Linda Dove said...

You know, this was a major theme of the trial--the fact that the defendant wanted-it-all-and-wanted-it-now. Made me very sad.

I will have to try these cookies sometime. I love salty-sweet.

Christina said...

CP: I'm not sure that it came across in this post, but I'm not asking this kid--or any others for that matter--to choose a career path. Instead, I'm asking him to do enough work to keep his options open. I work with kids who are mostly low income, and he fits squarely in that category. I'm trying to encourage him to break out of the cycle of poverty. I do a lot to make my lessons as relevant and engaging as possible, but I can't provide enough classroom opportunities to perfect a skill; kids just have to do homework. He doesn't. If he doesn't get a diploma, statistics say he never will. Statistics say he's going to continue in this income bracket, and his children are likely to do the same. I don't like those odds, and I hope he doesn't either.

Also, while I LOVE my job--teenagers are hilarious, provocative, fascinating creatures--I don't love every part of it. I don't like getting up so early or spending hours at a time grading papers, but I do those things so that I can a) get paid, b) get to do the wonderful parts of the job that I love, and c) make a difference. Every job has real, unfun work. This kid, like some others, won't do something if it isn't fun because he can't see the long term positives.

Lucy: I can't wait for your oven door to be replaced, because I know that will lead to something good.

Karen: I'm so sorry about the Red Toch! I'm also surprised. Well, if the one grows large and strong, you can save it to try planting again. Also, garlic often needs a transition year or two until you get the best growth out of it. The garlic varieties that I've grown for longer give me larger and healthier bulbs. Remember, when you save bulbs to plant later, save the largest and healthiest, and that should lead to a continuous cycle of improvement.

And about making choices while younger, I think that having young adults practice making some big, difficult decisions leads to very positive outcomes later. For example, my family moved every couple years as I was growing up, and though my brother and I never had a say about the fact we were moving, my parents always gave the two of us equal voting power in the houses we chose to live in. We debated and discussed and had to think seriously about pros and cons and long term consequences of our decisions. As a result of this and similar opportunities, tough choices don't frighten me. I don't get paralyzed like some of my peers do when they encounter similar situations. Kids need practice making those types of decisions.

Soilman: I don't blame them for wanting to rebel either. But the consequences of doing so, at least to these kids in their situation, is pretty dire.

Stefaneer: Mocha pecan shortbread? Oh wow. That sounds wonderful.

What led to your change of attitude towards work?

Linda: When I see it, which isn't all the time--I don't mean to imply that all my students are slackers--it makes me very sad too.

Amy said...

I think it's a really important lesson you're trying to get across, and I admire you for it. I am glad there are folks out there like you teaching, or trying to at least, the children.

And also? That cookie sounds positively fantabulous.

Anonymous said...

Homemade cookies are ultimate comfort food. Thanks for the recipe.

Susan said...

I don't think it's a simple teenage rebellion thing. It seems this kid is more an example of the tragedy of entitlement. My guess is his parent/s did everything for him, perhaps to comp for the poverty (yeah, it happens). Or maybe the home doesn't value schooling nor work - hard role models to challenge. Teachers can do just so much. At least you are trying, Christina, as much as it frustrates and saddens you.

Christina said...

Susan: Thank you for your kind words. I appreciate your support.