Martha’s Big-Ass Cookies! – Giant Chocolate Sugar Cookies-28 eggs, 26 1/2 cups of sugar, 19 3/4 sticks of Butter, and 23 3/4 cups of flour used so far- 157 recipes to go!

April 17, 2010

Martha's Giant Chocolate Sugar Cookies

André's Giant Chocolate Sugar Cookies

Strolling along Bourbon Street in New Orleans’ French Quarter (AKA The Vieux Carré), you’ll witness a few dicey daiquiri shops that feature signs advertising, “BIG-ASS DAIQUIRIS!”  I’m wondering if I set up a storefront in, say, downtown Lenexa, Kansas with a banner reading “BIG-ASS CHOCOLATE SUGAR COOKIES,” if people would be inclined to stop in.

I chose this recipe because it was plain and simple and I have been busy with Spring cleaning and damage control after having my front porch, steps and walkway re-cemented. I came home and saw that my yard looked like Woodstock, and have been trying to get it back to a presentable condition before I start getting looks from the neighbors. That said, I wanted an easy cookie, and this recipe fit the bill perfectly. All the ingredients go into a bowl and mix. With a 2 1/2 inch ice cream scoop you plop dollops of the batter onto a cookie sheet lined with parchment and bake. This recipe yields eight cookies. That’s it. Just eight. For those of us that grew up in the late 70s and early 80s, we know that Eight Is Enough (insert groan here). These cookies are big- about the size of a desert plate and they are quite delicious. By the way, I did the math and figured that two tablespoons of butter went into each cookie. Yet another reason to hate math.

People have asked me what I do with these cookies, usually in a suspicious tone, as if to imply that I’m binge-eating all of them. If that were the case I would be raising money for the Diabetes Walk next year. Puh-Lease! I am, however, bringing them to work, and my partner, Dan, is doing the same. Cookies are a great way to advance one’s standing among one’s peers and I wholeheartedly recommend it.

People have also asked me if I was worried that this was going to make me fat. Well, according to my Wii Fit, I am already obese. A cute little voice responds every time I step on the balance board with a muffled “Oof” and after weighing in, says in the cutest and most concerned manner, “Oh, That’s Obese!” – Adorable, huh?

It doesn’t bother me. I am too busy to spend emotional energy on body image hang-ups- and besides, last time I checked, happy people live longer than skinny people. Furthermore, losing too much weight would interfere with my ultimate goal to gain five-hundred pounds right before I die and make all the people who gave me grief during my lifetime serve as pall-bearers. I hope they allow video cameras in heaven because I am so going to post that on my Facebook account in paradise.  I bet heaven has really fast internet.

You know who would have really loved one of these Giant Chocolate Sugar Cookies? – Elvis!

I’m not a big Elvis fan but I remember where I was when he died. It was 1977.  I was 9 years old and visiting my grandma in the country. I’ve talked about her in several previous posts. You know, the crazy Cajun grandma. I remember everyone being so upset and shocked that someone who seemed to have everything could perish so young. Grandma was practically in tears, although untimely death was one of her favorite topics.

As an adult, I actually visited Graceland. Not only did I visit Graceland, but I had, what would be considered, a profound, life-changing experience there.

It was late Spring, 2000. I had just finished playing the role of Estragon (AKA Gogo) in Samuel Beckett’s Waiting For Godot at a local repertory company in Louisiana. In the play, two vagabond friends wait in a post-apocalyptic world for a gentleman named Godot. While they wait, they joke, they tease, they cry, they abuse each other, they contemplate suicide… anything to keep themselves going. At the end of the day and Act I, a boy appears to tell them that Godot cannot meet them that evening, but he will certainly see them tomorrow. Act II passes in much the same way with the same ending. These two men spend eternity waiting for Godot. They have faith he will come and everyday they must deal with the disappointment that he will not.

It is an absurd piece of theatre and painful to watch. There are moments of laughter but the sad truth is always there, hanging above the heads of these two insignificant men, Godot is not coming, nor will he ever. It’s a tremendous exploration of faith and the most challenging work I had ever approached on the stage. I poured so much of myself into the role, that I would leave the theatre, every night, depressed. I was depressed because I  was physically and emotionally spent. I was depressed from watching half the audience leave during intermission because the play was too torturous. I was depressed that I had fallen out of love with my boyfriend at the time. I was depressed because I was no longer enjoying working in the theatre. I needed to do some real soul searching. I needed to get away.

David, even though he was in his thirties, had played the young boy in Godot, and suggested that I venture out to spend some time up in Tennessee. He had mentioned a retreat hidden on Short Mountain outside of Mufreesboro.  It was a small gay commune run by an international group known as the Radical Faeries. This group had formed in the late sixties and is best described as a group of homosexuals dedicated to rural living, sort of like gay Amish.

I will write about that experience in a later post. I need to swing this story back to Elvis.

As I drove up through Mississippi and Arkansas and headed into Tennessee, I kept turning the music up loudly so I could scream with every ounce of my being, trying to shake out the sadness that had such a hold on me. The sign read, “Memphis- 20 miles”, followed by a large billboard advertising The Heartbreak Hotel.

“You’ve got to be kidding me?”- I thought to myself. It’s almost too perfect. I mean, like the lyric says, I felt so lonesome, I could die, and the rates on the billboard seemed reasonable. Maybe what I needed to cheer up was a big dose of kitsch. Before I knew it, I was driving down Elvis Presley Boulevard right into the parking lot of the Heartbreak Hotel.

Every inch of the lobby was covered in Elvis memorabilia. I approached the vinyl record encrusted counter and an older, corpulent woman in a poodle skirt and bobby socks tightly stretched over her cankles came jogging out of the back office. I purchased an evening in one of the simple guest rooms overlooking the heart-shaped swimming pool. As an added bonus, she informed me that since I was visiting off-season, I could receive a ticket to Graceland across the street for half price.

I thought the expression, “Off-Season”, was a bit strange. When is Memphis “On-Season?” I took my key and carried my bags to  the second floor. I was surprised that my room was not another shrine to Elvis. It was, in fact, quite clean and comfortable. The color scheme was a bit garish, but given the hotels namesake, it could have been much worse. There was, of course, a black velvet painting of Elvis holding a microphone in profile. Sweat was dripping down his face. The artist had accomplished this effect by making  tiny brushstrokes accented with pearly glitter.

My plan was failing. I wasn’t feeling better. In fact, I was starting to feel worse. I called my friend, Barry back in Louisiana. Barry directed Godot and we both had seen each other at our worst. I knew he would have something uplifting to say. Barry is British and quite practical in his responses. I think his dialect lends him credibility. Even if his advice was bupkis, it would sound thoughtful.

I call this the Mary Poppins Syndrome. Anything spoken with a British dialect must be true.

“Well, André, what you are experiencing is terribly sad, but I’m afraid, my dear friend, it’s not all that profound. Now, you think on that and have a restful evening. Perhaps take a dip in the heart-shaped pool?”

Oh, yeah… I almost forgot… Barry is a heartless bastard!

Now I was angry…and sad…and confused…and very, very tired. I pulled myself under the covers, turned out the light and waited for a brand new day and an early morning visit to Elvis’ home, Graceland.

Again, I’d like to state that I was never a big Elvis fan, and entering into his home was no great treat. His home is remarkably small, but the grounds are kept beautifully. The interior was exactly as he left it… Tacky. Tacky walls, tacky floors, tacky curtains, tacky furniture, tacky, tacky tacky. It was glorious. I think thirty minutes in the living room would give Martha Stewart a nervous breakdown.

The group I had entered  with had dissipated and I was craving a cigarette. It was still quite early and the day had not yet shaken off the morning dew. It was cloudy and damp as I stepped through the gardens in the backyard. I was alone, far from the other tourists who “ooo’ed” and “ahhh’ed” their way through each room. There was a fountain with amusement park blue water spurting from the top. Behind the fountain there was a row of four large plaques. They were gravestones. There, buried among his beloved family, was Elvis Aaron Presley.

I began to sob. All the sadness I had felt, all the uncertainty, the feeling of failure, of no direction, and abject hopelessness came bubbling to the surface. I shook drawing long breaths of  grief.

I felt a hand on my shoulder. A woman in her forties, wearing white shorts and a colorful pullover looked at me with tears in her eyes. Her eyes moved down towards the plaque and she began to quietly sob, still resting her arm on my shoulder. A few moments later, another woman joined us, and then another. All four of us were hovering behind the short fenced grave of The King and sniffling and blowing our noses. It was at that point it occurred to me, I had made an amazing discovery. I had found the American equivalent to the Wailing Wall. It’s one of the few places you can stand and cry your eyes out, and people won’t judge you. In fact. a few of them might just join in. I knew at that moment, too, that I was going to be okay.

In Act II of Waiting For Godot, Didi asks, “What do you do when you fall far from help?” He is answered- “You wait until you can get up again, and then you go on.”

I thought about this as I left Memphis and Elvis’ home.

Elvis loved his family, his peanut butter and banana sandwiches, his prescription meds, thousands of women, his tacky little home, and in the end Godot came.

So, Mr. Presley, Mr. Beckett, and the sweet lady with the white shorts, this Big-Ass cookie is for you.

3 Responses to “Martha’s Big-Ass Cookies! – Giant Chocolate Sugar Cookies-28 eggs, 26 1/2 cups of sugar, 19 3/4 sticks of Butter, and 23 3/4 cups of flour used so far- 157 recipes to go!”

  1. jen Says:

    might some of these big-ass-cookies be making their way into work tomorrow? ; )

  2. Carol Says:

    Oh, my, Andree. With every post, you surpass yourself!

  3. D Says:

    That remains my favorite Swine Palace production. By far.

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