Wednesday, April 21, 2010

The Superpower Performance Cookie

We’re halfway through April and I haven’t cookied for you yet! Unbelievable, Anne. What have you been doing?! Well there was the cruise, then moving, starting a part-time real job, and best of all – rehearsals&shows!!! I’m in the performance groove between my group’s sketch show at Second City (Sunday night at 7pm, and almost every Sunday hereafter) and rehearsals for the upcoming season at Theatricum Botanicum (stay tuned for show dates!) And these are by far the happiest places for me to be.

That being said, I want to dedicate a cookie to the power of performing. I am also dedicating this recipe to the Will Geer Theatricum Botanicum Cookbook – because the theatre is at the heart of this story. I tailored this cookie very specifically to honor one of my favorite, most meaningful performances of my life. I wrote about this experience in a grad school application, (I didn’t get in – but we don’t care about that anymore). Here is a shortened version of that story. (some of you may have read this before):

The time in my life when I knew I wanted to be an actor, was the time I knew I needed to be. The spring of 2008 had been chugging along so gloriously well, every new years resolution met, every goal achieved: lose ten pounds? Done. Get my own apartment? Done. Get cast as Phoebe in As You Like It with a professional Shakespeare repertory company? Yes! I was young and independent, busy professionally and socially, and I’m not ashamed to say, pretty proud of myself. When all of the sudden at 11:04pm on June 27th, my world was rocked forever.

“Annie?” my mom’s quavering voice spoke, “it’s Daddy. Hurry. It’s bad.” “Is he okay?!” I ask in instant hysteria. “Just hurry.” Ten minutes of life later we learn that my Dad had such an irregular heart beat, it fluttered erratically until it stopped, cutting off oxygen to his brain and leaving him dead for 10 to 12 minutes until the paramedics arrived. Three shocks later, my Dad was in a coma. Three days later, he was in a persistent vegetative state. And 12 days later he was a human being again, but one with significant brain damage and memory loss.

An only child, and a complete definition of a Daddy’s girl, my absolute worst case scenario was this night. My life from that moment on became entirely about my Dad. Everything else was meaningless. My only objective was to be by his side throughout the day. It is very easy to lose yourself to someone you love so deeply, but you have to recognize that they silently are telling you not to do that. And I had another job to do, I was supposed to go on as Phoebe at that Sunday matinee of As You Like It. The thought of leaving my father for more than two hours was almost unbearable, laughable even. Then my high school drama teacher, Mr. Bailey had a little heart-to-heart moment with me on the phone. “Anne - do your show. I think you need to do your show” he said. “No no, I can‘t yet… I don’t know” I stuttered. “Go escape. It’ll make you stronger. It’ll make your Dad stronger. He wouldn’t want you to sacrifice this.” Mr. Bailey, of course, was totally right. Every day before his incident Dad would say to me, “hey Kiddo, did ya Phoebe today?” as if it was a verb, so excited for me that I was doing what I loved. And up until then he still hadn’t seen me perform. My friends in the cast were all on Mr. Bailey’s side. And I told the Stage Manager that Friday, “okay… I think I should do it. I think I can.”

That Sunday, I spent the whole morning with my Dad as per usual, reading him the sports section, sharing a lame egg sandwich from the cafeteria with my mom, watching the Olympics on the mounted TV in his room, all while harboring this inner nervous anxiety about stepping back into my old world. I was more nervous for that than performing. But as I stood in front of the dressing room mirror tying my big pink sash around my waist, precisely placing flowers in my hair that I had taken from Dad‘s hospital room, brushing on the last touches of blush, I kept thinking, “Daddy, this one’s for you. You’re gonna see me “Phoebe” one day before the run is through.” And then I raced on to that beautiful outdoor stage to play with Sylvius, and I escaped.

I returned to the hospital that night and rushed to my Dad’s side with that post-performance high pulsing through me and a surprising smile on my face, “I did it!!!” He turned his usual vacant gaze swiftly from the TV, his face awash and bright-eyed with the radiant energy I threw at him upon my entrance. “There’s a cutie.” he smiled and said casually after taking me in and processing who I was. Then I knelt by his bed, took his hand, and told him all about it. My strength renewed, and pulsating from my hand to his.

Two months later, and one week out of the hospital, he got to see me “Phoebe.”

Whew!!! Okay – back to my cookie. I’ll list the significance of each ingredient as we go. This cookie is more like a sweeter more buttery, round granola bar because it packs so many nutrients. But I wouldn’t call it “healthy.” I’d call it the perfect cookie that gives you that energetic jolt you need before a performance, complimented with the right amount of sweet encouragement.

Or how about, The Superpower Performance Cookie. (cause I'm pretty sure it has super-powers)


1 ½ cup unbleached all purpose flour

½ cup whole wheat flour

1 tsp baking soda

1 tsp baking powder

½ tsp salt

2 sticks room-temp unsalted butter

1 ½ cup brown sugar

½ cup white granulated sugar

2 large eggs

1 ½ tsp vanilla extract

2 cups rolled oats (not quick), or this oat mix of oats, barley, and wheat

(oats are full of energy and nutrients!)

1 cup dried cherries (for a springy, chewy, bright and tart bite!)

1 cup chopped chocolate covered espresso beans (I always pop a few of these before a show for a little caffeine boost. Either that or Excedrin. But Excidrin probably wouldn’t taste as good mashed up in a cookie…)

¾ cup chopped white chocolate chips

¼ cup sunflower seeds (I always carried a sunflower or gerbera daisy as Pheobe.) ((these also have a lot of protein!))

I think that’s it!

Preheat oven to 350°

1st) Mix together the top list of dry ingredients and set aside.

2nd) Do yourself a favor and combine all the bottom ingredients now. Starting with the oats.

Pour into a separate bowl.

Next - pour out a cup of the espresso beans.

Aren't they beautiful? Now, give them a rough chop. This isn't easy. They like to roll off the board.

Next, add in your white chocolate chips (and remember to chop them up a little bit first)...

Then the sunflower seeds...

And finally -- give those cherries a chop before you drop them into the mix.

Whisk it up big time and set aside!

3rd) Now back to your butter. Go ahead and beat that up with your brown sugar.

4th) Add in your white sugar...

5th) Drop the vanilla and beat the eggs in one at a time...

6th) Beat til creamy and smooth...

7th) Next you would obviously slowly add in the flour mixture from the top. But I forgot to take a picture of that. Silly me. So just refer to a previous cookie recipe to see what it looks like when you add the flour to the butter/sugar/egg mixture and you'll get the gist.

8th) And once the flour is all beaten in - go ahead and slowly start to incorporate the crazy chocolatey, cherry, oat and seed combo you put together earlier. Just let the mixer get it started... don't let it do all the work. It'll stress out and smush all the goodies.

9th) Grab your wooden spoon and dig in there. Seriously this dough is THICK - my arm was shaking after mixing it. So not only does this cookie GIVE you energy and protein, but you burn calories making it!! woohooo!!! see it does have superpowers.


10th) Okay now, get your scooper, spray your baking sheet and align those babies up!!!

11th) Bake for 12-14 minutes depending on your oven. Or until the edges are browned and crisp and the middle looks just baked through. (this image is 6 minutes into baking...)

12th) Once baked, let cool for a minute on the cookie sheet. Then loosen with a spatula and transfer to wire wrack to cool completely!

Now that's one tough cookie.

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