before the plunge / celebration cookies

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There’s change on the horizon you guys. Lots and lots of change.

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I’ve been neglecting this space on the Internet for some time now, and on purpose. Around a year ago, I decided to take the plunge and begin the harrowing and hoop-filled process of applying to graduate school (the hoops! so many hoops! why didn’t anyone warn me?). I decided the hiatus I was taking from my nursing career needed an It’s Not You It’s Me Or Maybe It Is You DTR and officially closed that chapter and dove into pursuing higher education! After months of praying, waiting, studying, test taking, essay writing and rewriting and application mailing, I can now say I have been accepted into the Coordinated Program for Nutrition at Georgia State University!

I haven’t wanted to bog down the Internets with my penchant for control and my months of anxiety and self-bargaining, because really, there is enough self-absorbed emotional musing floating through cyber space. But there were definitely times when I wanted to, because I submitted my application(s) in December AND ITS NOW JUNE AND I JUST FIGURED OUT WHERE I AM GOING TO LIVE FOR THE NEXT THREE? YEARS NO BIG DEAL.

Because to be quite honest with you dear reader, the waiting period is THE WORST. Months of preparation and GRE studying and then taking the GRE and then taking the GRE AGAIN and taking pre-requisites and writing essays and requesting 18 thousand college transcripts culminated into the very anticlimactic event of waiting for 6 more months.

But I’m sure it was good for me. Or I’m sure it helped me learn to chill out and be patient. It also helped me learn that I’m not in control, that I can’t possibly manage everything, and that the Lord’s timing isn’t mine. It wasn’t a fun lesson, it was hard and mostly annoying and I wasn’t exactly a peach to live with during those peak stress times.

I can see how this stress might seem rather feeble, after all it’s just grad school. People do this every day. It’s not like I’m discovering a law of physics or curing cancer or overcoming cancer or birthing a child. But I am leaving a career that I worked really hard for, and spent 4 years sifting through; I’m moving away from the state where I have lived my entire life, and diving rather significantly into student debt. I spent the past year putting myself completely out there, inviting the cold, hard world of academia to crush me and my dreams. Plus I hate change: I was relatively content with the consistency of the jobs that made me unhappy, because I understood their rhythm and their predictability, even though I resented it. It was misery I understood and got used to. Taking leaps of faith means lots of bravery + lots of uncomfortable feelings + lots of things I can’t predict or control. And changing careers and going to grad school means lots of change and lots of unpredictability and lots of Rachel Not Controlling Things.

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In spite of all those emotions I eventually worked through, I’m really, really excited. It’s been a dream of mine forever to work with food, and I love helping others figure out what to eat and how to make it. It’s taken a good portion of my adult life to find a niche, and I can’t wait to see where this takes me. I love food! I love nutrition! I love science! I love art! I love health! I love cooking! and I can’t wait to see how these things that I love will collide. I’m very thankful for the jobs I’ve held and the incredibly valuable experiences I’ve had as a nurse/working adult, but I can’t wait to see what I’ll learn as a Registered Dietician Nutritionist!

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Since I’ve had so many new things sprinting at me lately, it’s made me crave the familiar. Restaurants, places, people and foods that I know well, who won’t surprise me or ask much of me or force me to wear nice pants when something stretchy and dark colored will suffice. It also means I’ve been watching reruns of Gilmore Girls and re-reading the Harry Potter series, mostly because I’m familiar with their stories and I enjoy the characters. I know what’s going to happen and I won’t be surprised. It feels like the height of irony as well as a gift from providence that my favorite TV show and my favorite book series will be coming out with new additions this year, which dovetails nicely with my new season of life. Thank you, Amy Sherman-Palladino, and thank you, J.K. Rowling, I know you did it all just for me. If you happen to be reading this, I’d love to bake you some treats sometime.

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That brings me to these cookies, which are full of the familiar, the known, and the good. One of my sister-in-law’s signature foodstuffs are her oatmeal chocolate chip cookies, which I would take to work with me on the night shift when I lived with them 5! years ago. Her cookies were the highlight of those incredibly long 12 hour shifts. My mom also makes oatmeal raisin cookies, bars, and muffins, and when she’s feeling particularly adventurous, she’ll throw in some chocolate chips. The oatmeal/raisin/chocolate chip combo usually appears in some form in my mom’s kitchen, and it reminds me of home, my parent’s house, and how quite and peaceful it is there.

So naturally, while searching online for apartments in Atlanta last night and feeling significantly overwhelmed, I made a batch of these oatmeal raisin chocolate chip cookies. I adapted them slightly from Deb, because while we’re sticking with the known and the familiar, why not use a recipe from my favorite food blogger?

I should also take a paragraph to mention that June is Shared Feast’s birthday month! I’ve officially hung a shingle in this corner of the web for an entire year now, and even though there have been some small lapses, it feels good to have kept up something creative for this long. I can’t wait to write in this space more, and to share all my food science and culinary adventures with you as I journey through nutrition school!

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incredibly large oatmeal raisin chocolate chip cookies

These are dubbed celebration cookies, because Happy Birthday Shared Feast! And Happy Graduate School! And Take a Deep Breath Before the Plunge of Moving!

Whole Wheat Chocolate Chip Oatmeal Raisin Cookies
Adapted from here

I made these cookies enormous, and got 10 very large disks after baking. They’re thick and chewy, a perfect crumb that goes well with a large glass of milk or coffee or both. I used whole wheat flour instead of all-purpose, and that seemed to make them denser. So whole wheat + oats + raisins is basically salad, right?

1/2 cup (1 stick) of unsalted butter, room temp
Scant 1/2 cup light brown sugar
1 large egg
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
3/4 cup whole wheat or a mixture of whole wheat and all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon table salt
pinch of freshly grated nutmeg
1 1/2 cups old fashioned rolled oats
1/2 cup dark chocolate chips or pieces roughly chopped
2/3 cup raisins

In the bowl of a stand mixer with a paddle attachment, cream the butter, sugar, egg and vanilla together until smooth. You can also use a whisk and a large bowl if you have no mixer. In a separate bowl, combine the flour, baking soda, salt and spices. With the mixer running, add the flour mixture to the butter mixture. Next, add the oats, then the chocolate, then the raisins.

Stop the mixture and refrigerate the dough. Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper. Preheat the oven the 350 degrees. Once the oven is preheated, remove the cookies from the fridge and scoop onto the cookies sheet, two inches apart. Smaller cookies will only take 10-ish minutes to bake, mine were very large (I got 10-12 cookies from this dough) and took 15-18 minutes. Cookies are done when the edges are golden brown. Remove from the oven, allow to sit on their pan for just 5 minutes, then move to a wire rack to cool. These are a perfect afternoon snack with coffee.



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