Just imagine you are ten years old.
You wake up in the morning and unzip your sleeping bag. The sun is streaming through the window and you can hear birds chirping outside. You’ve been asleep on a top bunk (if you were one of the lucky early arrivers – top bunks were prime locations!) in a wooden cabin in the forest in rural east-coast Canada. A dozen or so of your peers whom you’ve formed immediate friendships with are also slowly waking from their slumber.
You quickly put on your swimming suit and join the more enthusiastic members of your cabin for a quick dip in the cold Bras d’Or lake: the morning rip and dip, only for the bravest of the brave!
After a quick shower under an ice cold outdoor tap and a towel dry you queue with five other cabin groups to enter the Dining Hall for breakfast, the anticipation of a whole day’s activities ahead of you. The sun is getting hotter. It’s pushing 30 degrees C already. You can hear the noise of hundreds of crickets in the tall grass. A bald eagle soars silently overhead.
After breakfast come the obligatory chores. There’s a rota for each day where cabin members have to help clear up and mop the dining hall, tidy up their cabins, clear up the grounds or mop the outhouses (kybos, as they were known, and if you misbehaved you were threatened that you’d have to clean the kybo with your toothbrush. No one ever misbehaved as the threat was too terrifying, those kybos smelled awful!).
Then came playtime: a whole day filled with activities including outdoor games, treasure hunts (did you ever find the four-leafed clover? They grew behind the kitchen!), canoeing trips, fishing for perch off the end of the pier in the village (occasionally catching an eel!), swimming in the lake trying to avoid the stinging red jelly fish, crafts, hiking, ropes obstacle courses in the trees, zip lining across the dreaded swamp monster bog deep in the forest (the inspiration for many a terrifying insomnia-inducing ghost story!) and developing friendships you felt were going to last a lifetime.
A break for lunch would find you all gathered at your cabin tables in the Dining Hall competing to see which cabin could sing the loudest.
“There ain’t no flies on us! There ain’t no flies on us! There may be flies on some of you guys but there ain’t no flies on us!”
The wooden floor reverberated with the thunderous sound. You left the tables energized to head back outside and continue your day of adventure under the baking sun.
When it started to get dark after dinner, the fireflies would come out; little fairy-like orbs floating in the darkness, illuminating their paths forward with their inbuilt lanterns. You’d head out into the forest with your friends, settling yourselves on log benches surrounding a bonfire pit. One of the counsellors would light the fire, a massive, roaring, living beast of a thing, and you’d all sing traditional camp fire songs wishing the night would never end.
As the camp fire embers died you’d trudge back to the dining hall for snack, exhausted but content. You were given a freshly baked cookie the size of your hand and a cold glass of milk before zipping yourself back up in your sleeping bag to recharge for another adventure the next day.
The chocolate chip cookie recipe below is the recipe for one of those cookies you ate.
I was that ten year old.
I attended a week long children’s summer camp at Camp Aite Breagh in Orangedale, Cape Breton every summer from the age of seven until fifteen. I worked there as assistant cook when I was seventeen and eighteen and this recipe was given to me by the head cook. I used to bake these cookies for the children, doubling the recipe and scooping the mixture with an ice cream scoop onto industrial sized baking trays to make chewy chocolate chip cookies the size of your hand.
This is the best chocolate chip cookie recipe ever. I promise. You have to use white vegetable fat though, do not use butter. The consistency isn’t right if the recipe is made with butter.
Now, go and make some cookies and pretend you are ten again. 🙂
- 205 grams white vegetable shortening
- 225 grams granulated sugar
- 100 grams light brown muscovado sugar
- 2 large eggs
- 2 tsp vanilla extract
- 325 grams plain flour
- 1 tsp baking soda
- 1 tsp salt
- 250 grams plain or milk chocolate chips
Prep time: Cook time: Total time: Yield: 4 dozen
When I worked at the camp in my late teens I’d walk the long dirt road from my home to the camp in the morning, which followed along the side of the lake. First thing in the morning the water was warmer than the air and a mist, like steam, used to come off it. I would quite often see a lone heron in this mist and I used to look forward to seeing it each morning, and imagine it was saying good morning. They’re such beautiful, magical creatures, wouldn’t you agree?
I am sharing this recipe (and story!) with Javelin Warrior’s Made with Love Mondays made from scratch recipe round-up. His round-up includes recipes which are free from artificial ingredients. This recipe does include refined white vegetable fat, but I use Cookeen here in the UK which is free from hydrogenated vegetable oil (so it says on the package anyway!) and his restricted ingredients list says refined oils are ok!