Sunday, May 26, 2013

Nathan's Cookies for a #SundaySupper Picnic

While I love most of the kids at my school, there are a few that I really connect with. Mostly, it's because I see pieces of myself in their young personalities - be it the tortured, depressed spirit of the bullied kid, the withdrawn, introverted bookworm or the child who just wants someone to understand that their problems are real to them - no matter how inane they may look to an outsider.

One of these "connections" I have is a very special one to me, with a child named Nathan. Without delving into too much gory detail, he is a very withdrawn boy more at home in the corner with his nose in a book than in the middle of a group activity. He's quiet and hardly ever speaks to anyone, which makes him the target of pranks and offhand "jokes"... things that to outsiders shouldn't be a "big deal" but are absolutely devastating when they happen to you personally. Some of his "quirks" (such as refusing to drink milk or freaking out at the thought of cheese in his meal) drive the teachers to distraction, and unfortunately the outcome is usually that Nathan is told to "get over it".

My kitchen at work is now almost a "therapist's office" - a safe haven for both students and teachers alike. I get the kids who were angrily throwing materials in the classroom, and the ones in tears for reasons they refused to say. Likewise, I've had teachers on the verge of exploding with frustration and those so stressed out about their future that they were unravelling. It was in my kitchen that I had a chance to work with Nathan one-on-one, through good times and bad - and because I saw so much of my own withdrawn childhood in him we now connect in a way that neither annoys me nor frustrates him.

Nathan's CookiesOne of these "sessions" came about while I was baking off a batch of cookie dough for the toddler class - a recipe for chocolate chip cookies that came from my mother and had never yet failed me. The comforting, familiar smell wafting through the school had a calming effect on almost everyone, and for an hour at least things seemed a bit quieter at "the zoo". When Nathan came in (supposedly for a glass of water, but I have my doubts), he was so enthralled by the thick, chewy, sprinkle-filled cookies that he quietly, but determinedly, asked me if I would please make them for his class soon. And I did... the next day.

I could have called these magical treats "Mrs. Mac's Cookies" as well, as the same recipe became the first cookie that teacher (a brilliant woman of almost 60) ever made! Simple enough for two year old's tastebuds and complex enough for the more sophisticated adults, a multigenerational, multicultural snack perfect for parties, packed lunches and picnics is easier than ever - and you don't have to be the popular, athletic kid to enjoy them.

This week's #SundaySupper is taking place in a grassy, sunny park on a comfy gingham blanket... that's right, we're having a picnic! There are lots of recipes in our picnic basket this week for some seriously good, perfectly portable food. Check out all the treats below! The event this week is hosted by Katy of Happy Baking Days - thanks Katy! 

Salads and Slaws:

Sandwiches and Mains:



You can join in the chat on Twitter too: we’ll be tweeting throughout the day and sharing all of our picnic recipes. Our weekly chat starts at 7:00 pm EST. To join in, just follow the #SundaySupper hashtag, and remember to include it in your tweets. You can also check out our #SundaySupper Pinterest board for more delicious recipes and photos.

Nathan's Cookies (Chewy Chocolate Chip Sprinkle Cookies)
Makes about 55
1 ½ cups non-hydrogenated vegetable shortening
2 cups packed dark brown sugar (I like Demerara,any high molasses kind will do)
1/3 cup granulated sugar
3 tbsp milk
2 tbsp pure vanilla
2 eggs
1 egg yolk
1 tbsp honey
2 ½ cups flour
1 cup whole wheat flour
½ tbsp baking soda
½ tbsp salt
¼ tsp nutmeg
2 cups chocolate chips (nothing fancy, really - Hershey's works perfectly!)
¼ cup multicoloured sprinkles
  1. In a bowl, cream the shortening, sugars, milk and vanilla until light and fluffy.
  2. Add eggs, egg yolk and honey, beat well.
  3. Add the flour, baking soda, salt and nutmeg, beating until just blended.
  4. By hand, stir in chocolate chips and sprinkles.
  5. Cover the surface of the dough with plastic wrap and chill 1 hour.
  6. Preheat the oven to 375ºF.
  7. Scoop cookies (about 1 ½ - 2 tbsp each) onto parchment-lined sheets 3 inches apart.
  8. Bake 9 - 11 minutes for chewy cookies, or 12 to 15 minutes for crisp cookies.
  9. Cool 5 minutes on the baking sheet, then transfer cookies to rack to cool completely.
Amount Per Serving
Calories: 160.3
Total Fat: 8.6 g
Cholesterol: 10.1 mg
Sodium: 7.2 mg
Total Carbs: 22.9 g
Dietary Fiber: 0.8 g
Protein: 1.6 g


  1. How nice of you to make those cookies for Nathan's class! I'd love to make these for my kids :)

  2. Oh, I love this post! what exactly do you do for a living? I recently got to read to my daughter kindergarten class and stayed for their first recess. I watched as my daughter ran around with her friends and was playing and as I scanned the playground, I saw one little boy sitting all the way next to the schoolyard fence sitting in the dirt. I asked my daughter if she knew him and her friend said he was a 1st grader. I alerted one of the assisting teachers outside watching the kids and she was about to go over there and talk to him but then a few kids approached him and was talking to him. and then shortly after that, they left. I'm not sure what happened but I'm guessing he just wanted to be left alone. I didn't know what to do. . I was going to go up to him but didn't want to scare him. It was just so sad. he was alone for the entire recess (maybe only 15 mins) but still. it was the so sad to see with my own eyes. if you work with kids like this, God bless you! I love that you made these cookies for his class! :) thanks for sharing. next time, if I see something like that again, I am going to approach the child just to say hello and let them know that someone cares.


Thanks for the feedback!