The Doldrums

Each winter, I usually make it to about the second week in February before I’m cranky, using moisturizer at an alarming rate, tired all the time, and eating like I’m putting a hibernation plan into place. In other words, that bane of existence for those of us who make the North our home: Seasonal Affective Disorder. Around that time, in addition to spending inordinate amounts of money on expensive lotions to keep actual scales from forming on my body, I start to consider crazy remedies, like tanning beds or moving to Bali and opening my own tiki bar. And lucky me, this year, SAD has come early.
Last week, sweet relief came in the form of a box of cookies from my friend Big Hungry Lesley, who lives in Pittsburgh. In addition to being a pretty happy camper because her team is going to the Superbowl, Lesley is a staunch supporter of my blog and a genuine food lover. She sent me an entire box of gigantic chocolate chip cookies from Heaven, i.e. Nancy B’s Bakery in West Homestead, PA. Look, I KNOW Pittsburgh is a little outside the BHS-sanctioned area! But these cookies, these angel discs, these bites of manna, might be the exception to every rule ever laid down. Here is the note Lesley included in the box, and it sums up a lot of the emotions these cookies inspire:
“Dear Cookies…you have no idea how much you have improved the quality of my life…” Amen, sister.

But you probably want to hear more than me just raving about how awesome they are, right? Ok, I’ll try. My guess is that there’s a little peanut butter in the batter. Not enough so that they are peanut butter cookies, but enough to give each bite some heft and creaminess at the same time. I’m also guessing there’s a high brown to white sugar ratio, making them chewier and richer than your average Tollhouse classics, and that there’s more than a pinch of salt in the mix. The chocolate chips are large – so they’re chocolaty (uh, DUH), but stop just shy of being too sweet. It’s really all about the balance with these beauties. And the great news is, Nancy B’s will ship you your very own box of wonder and delight. Just call them at (412) 462-6222 to order. And they wanted me to let you know that they prefer to ship orders early in the week, so the cookies don’t sit, sad and alone, in some freezing postal facility over the weekend. I don’t blame them – the very thought of it breaks my heart a little.

Problem solved! It’s too cold and/or snowy to leave your house, so stay home in your PJs and let your kind postal professional bring you what you so richly deserve and need to rescue you from the doldrums: gargantuan, buttery, rich and naughty cookies. Maybe next week I’ll write a post about getting ourselves off our collective duffs and working off all these excess calories? Nah, who am I kidding?

As you can probably guess, the winter doldrums have not only affected my mood, but they’ve limited my get-out-there-and-dine experiences. Shawn and I had dinner over the weekend at Kelly’s in Endicott, but I have nothing good to report from that outing. Is the curse of aging for a foodie really necessary, in that your palate grows more varied while your stomach grows more sensitive? All I know is that my brain tells me to order things labeled “spicy” and “buffalo,” and the next day, my digestive system most vigorously objects. Alas, I will offer up some already planned and quickly approaching trips that will be featured on BHS soon:
  • Barring any weather catastrophes, there could be a Dinosaur BBQ dinner on the menu later this week.
  • Next time I’m in Watertown, which could be in February but might have to wait until March, my parents and I are hitting the Japanese Steakhouse on Arsenal Street for sure. The two alternates currently up for debate are Café Mira, in Adams, and the bar side of Ives Hill. - Melinda and I are leaving in less than two week for a conference in DC, at the National Harbor. Expect a dispatch from the road out of this trip.
  • Miss Finger Lakes Pageant is at the end of February in Corning, which means I’ll be delivering that Sorge’s review I promised.
  • Early March brings another road trip with Melinda, this time to Albany. We’ve got some cupcakes from an innovative new baker on deck, and possibly a side trip to Saratoga.

I know I’ve been light on restaurant recommendations in the new year. I suspected this would be an issue given the winters we’re so prone to up here. I hope you do order some comforting cookies from Nancy B’s while you’re doing your own hiding out from the frightful weather outside. And if you need some stimulating discussion while you’re stuck inside cooking chili and other savory treats, hop on over to our Facebook group and let’s chat! My personality is big; my hunger is bigger!

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