Lately, I’ve been thinking a lot about the concept of home—how it’s a complicated feeling more than a concrete place. At a certain point in life, you realize you have ties to more than one community and consequently call many places home. Right now, Scott and I are split between Kailua where we’re living, and Tacoma where we own a beautiful home that is being taken care of by my younger sister, Mandy, and her wonderful husband, Joel Zylstra.
As plans tend to do, ours was altered recently. We got the good news the other day that Jondy (Joel and Mandy’s celebrity identity) have put an offer in on a house less than half a mile away from ours. This is good news, because these are two of my most favorite people in the entire world:
My sister is someone who I always want to talk to, especially when I’m in an extreme emotional state. I can ramble, and she’ll listen without judgment. Her compassion and realness are things of comfort to everyone around her… and every time I see or talk to her, I return to real life with more energy than before we started talking. I’m inspired by her amazing work ethic and ability to say yes to things most of us say no to.
My brother-in-law, Joel, is one of the most thoughtful and decisive individuals I’ve ever met. His ability to forge connections to his community and organize minds of different thought around one goal that serves all is nothing short of amazing. He willingly gives his time to the Halverson family as if he was born into it and we are so glad he wanted in to this funny clan of people. He’s also very handy, and they’re both bike people. Together, these two are poster kids for what it’s like to win the lottery with family.
To get these two relatives and friends as Tacoma neighbors is a gift. Knowing they will be around the corner is a new feeling to home that we haven’t yet experienced, but we know we’ll be unable to go without it once we do.
Before we moved to Hawaii, they lived in an apartment around the corner and we were often treated to the cookies that my sister made—and by often, I mean like twice a month. I’m incapable of having one of these cookies and not thinking of her and our Tacoma home. I wish I could be there right now to bring her and Joel a batch as they are working through the details of owning their own Tacoma home. And another batch once they’re in.
Over the last week, I’ve untangled a bit of the complexity around the feeling of home. Much of it is around the memories you have in a place—and people and food are big players when it comes to particular memories. For me, the Chocolate Cherry Cookies that Mandy introduced me to and subsequently made repeatedly thereafter reminds me of my Tacoma home.
Today is the kickoff to the Tour de France. In years past, Scott and I would probably be with Tacoma friends at The Hub watching the teams start the most exciting race of the year. (That’s a fact, folks). To say we miss our Tacoma home is an understatement. I’m not surprised in the least, then, when I decided Chocolate Cherry Cookies needed to be made immediately. I drove to my great aunt’s house in Palolo Valley (since our Kailua home doesn’t have an oven—a faux pas for sure) which involved a drive over Pali (picture below) and baked a batch of my version of the cookies that taste like the home that I miss.
Jenn’s “Cherolate” Cookies
(Originally adapted from Mandy Zylstra & Cooking Light)
- ½ cup whole-wheat flour
- ¼ cup barley flour (use all-purpose if you don’t have any)
- 1 Tsp. of wheat germ (optional)
- 1 ½ cup rolled organic oats
- 1 tsp. baking soda
- ½ tsp. salt
- 6 Tsp. unsalted butter (I used Naked Cow Honey Butter)
- ¾ cup coconut sugar (use brown sugar if you don’t have access to coconut)
- 1 cup and then some of dried cherries—
- 1 tsp. vanilla
- 1 large egg
- 4 oz. of bittersweet chocolate chips (I used Ghirardelli’s 60% dark chocolate chips)
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees and take out your Kitchen Aide
- Combine flours, wheat germ, oats, baking soda and salt in the Kitchen Aide bowl and mix.
- Melt butter in a small saucepan over low heat. Once melted, remove the pan and add coconut (or brown) sugar and stir until smooth.
- Add this butter-sugar mixture to the flour mixture and mix at medium speed until blended.
- Mix in the egg and vanilla.
- Next add the cherries and blend briefly.
- Remove the bowl, and add the chocolate chips. Fold in with a spatula.
At this point, you are ready to bake. Scoop a tablespoon amount of the batter onto your Silpat (or parchment paper) and fill up a baking sheet. Don’t try to make large cookies with this dense recipe—they will burn before they can bake.
Bake the cookie sheet at 350 for 12-17 minutes. Once done, cool for 3 minutes on the baking sheet, then move the cookies to a cooling rack. Enjoy, share, or freeze.
Of course, I recommend sharing as you never know who needs a good home baked cookie to feel at home.