Peter told me not to enter my chocolate chip cookies in the cookie contest. "They won't stand out," he said. "There are only so many ways you can combine flour and sugar and butter and chocolate chips, and it's just too dicey. You need to do something more outside the box."
"Hmph," I replied. "You don't like my chocolate chip cookies?"
"That's not what I said."
"You think my cookies are boring."
"That's not what I said, either. I just think you should try something different," he said as he bit into a chocolate chip cookie, hot and fresh from the oven.
I was baking cookies for the Stake Christmas Concert, and part of the festivities was a cookie contest, with a prize for the best cookie. The prize was exciting, $50, but I was really in it for the fame and glory of being the best cookie baker in the whole Manhattan stake. For the last two weeks I had compiled lists of possible cookie entries, crossing out iffy choices like pineapple cookies and hermit cookies and contemplating bizarre concoctions like cayenne chocolate cookies. But at the top of the list was always the tried and true chocolate chip cookies that I've been making since middle school, which have never let me down.
"Peter, there may be a lot of chocolate chip cookies out there, but there has to be a best of the best. Not all chocolate chip cookies are made alike. One must be better than another, and I think mine are really really good." So I stuck with the chocolate chip cookies, but just to be on the safe side I also entered ginger creams and white chocolate cherry chocolate chunk cookies.
After the concert, three judges sat together at a table, sampling the many cookie submissions. They tasted, sipped milk, deliberated, huddled, tasted again, and nodded their heads. My friends patted me on the back, giving me assurances that my cookies were delicious. I hoped I wouldn't be embarrassed later.
"What are your criteria for the best cookie?" the hostess asked. The judges replied that they were looking for taste, texture, and complexity. "And we have a winner," they announced.
They announced my name, and a cheer went up. The winning entry: the chocolate chip cookies! Astonished, I rushed to the stage to accept my prize. The judges told me that my chocolate chip cookie was delicious, perfectly round, moist, and wonderful in every way. I knew it. Those chocolate chip cookies have never let me down, and now my faith in them was paying off.
So I texted Peter to rub it in. "Guess whose cookies won?" I wrote.
"I hope you laughed and pointed at all the losers," he wrote back.
"Ya, well, guess which cookies were the winners."
"The ginger creams, of course."
"The chocolate chip cookies!!!!"
"Were there other chocolate chip cookie entries?"
Then Josh texted me and said, "I am proud of you! I want you to change it into dollar bills and swim in them in front of Pete. I'm dead serious." Hmmm. Maybe I will. But it's enough of a reward to know that my cookies are prize-winners and that I got the best of Peter, because that certainly does not happen every day.