Live Life and Practice Writing

A skillet cookie. I am laughing at the irony. I finally include recipes on this blog and the first two are not things you should eat if trying to cut calories. But here’s the thing, you are going to cheat so if you do, it is better to eat goodies you make than the processed ones you buy at the store. At least you know what’s in it.

The Story

When I was in college at Wayne State University in Detroit, we often ate at the wonderful Traffic Jams restaurant on Canfield. They have great food, but what I remember most is a dessert called, “A Cookie in a Fancy Dress.” It was a chocolate chip cookie served with TJ’s homemade vanilla ice cream. We were poor so we’d order one to share. It was delicious and the name appealed to our theatrical sensibilities. It was always a good time.

I have tried many chocolate chip cookies and never found one that tasted like that cookie. When I read the tips on The Foodie Delights blog for making a skillet cookie, I said, “Could this be it? Chopped chocolate, less white sugar and malted milk powder?”

I had to try it.

I will be using my Grandma’s 11 1/2 inch skillet that dates back to 1965. This skillet is larger and heftier than my older ones and has a fabulous surface. If you haven’t guessed, I am a metal head, that is a collector of cast iron cookware.

A Cookie in a Fancy Dress

  • Servings: 6-10
  • Difficulty: moderate
  • Print

A gooey, chewy reward after a long day of writing.

Best if served with a good vanilla ice cream and chocolate shavings. This recipe was modified from the Nestlé Toll House Recipe. I used Baker’s chocolate bars; unsweetened (100% cacao), semi-sweet (56% cacao) and German’s sweet Chocolate (48% cacao.) You can also include some white chocolate. Chop the chocolate with a chopping knife and not a food processor.

It’s hard to shave chocolate in your kitchen, use some of the chopped chocolate or Nestlé chocolate chips of any kind to trim the dress’

For the ice cream, I am useing Calder’s vanilla which has 5 ingredients and I can pronounce all 5. Calder’s is a local dairy.

Credit: Nestlé, The Foodie Delights blog, Cynthia Franks


  • 2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 heaping table spoon of plain malted milk powder
  • 2 cups (about 12 ounces) chopped chocolate of different varieties.
  • 1 1/2 cups (2 1/2 sticks) butter, softened not melted
  • 1/3 cup white cane sugar
  • 3/4 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanillia (if possible natural vanilla and not extract)
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 well-seasoned 10 to 12 inch cast iron skillet


  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees with rack in the center.
  2. Generously butter, with softened not melted butter, a 10 to 12 inch cast iron skillet.
  3. On a piece of parchment paper over a cutting board, chop the chocolate.
  4. In a mixing bowl combine flour, baking soda, salt, malted milk powder, swipe all the chopped chocolate bits off the parchment paper and into the bowl.
  5. In a larger bowl, mix together the butter, sugars, vanilla and eggs.
  6. Add the dry ingredients at one time and mix until well combined.
  7. Press all cookie dough into the well-buttered cast iron skillet.
  8. Bake in the oven for 35 minutes or until the sides are nice golden brown, but the middle is still giggly to the touch.
  9. Remove from oven and allow to set in cast iron skillet for at least 45 minutes.
  10. Cut into desired pieces and remove from skillet. Serve with vanilla ice cream and chocolate shavings or pieces.

End note

This cookie is great with ice cream. It is great crumbled into the ice cream. It is not so great on it’s own.

Next time I will make two cookies out of this amount of dough. I felt the cookie was to thick. I’d cut the cooking time down a bit.

I think I would do 1/2 cup white sugar or use milk chocolate in place of the unsweetened chocolate. The ice cream adds the needed sweetness, but if not serving this á la mode, it needs a sweetness boost. I would add some white chocolate into the mix.

I’m going to look at some other cookie dough recipes and try this again.

Writing a novel is very different from writing a play. The story telling is the same, but the mechanics of it are different as I am finding out.

I know the play writing process. I know it’s different for each story, but I have a good idea what I need to do to get to my pay-off. Once I get the characters working, I almost don’t need to think about the writing until the final tweaks. It becomes a matter of getting the characters to do the things required to tell the story.

In writing a novel, I feel certain that there will come a point where my characters take over, but it takes so much longer to get there. I need to build the sets and do the lighting using my words. It is hard work. And often boring work. Continue reading

[Photographs: Emily Dryden] If I learned anything about food growing up down south, it’s that a cast iron skillet can work wonders for any recipe—even chocolate chip cookies. Slap a chocolate chip cookie dough in a cast iron skillet, and it’ll bake up crunchy around the edges, but soft and fudgy in the middle, like…

via The Skillet Cookie: Yet Another Reason to Love Cas… — Your Foodie Delights

January 22, 2018

This monologue is about 2 minutes. I wrote this character in his mid-30s, but he could be older or younger. Actors feel free to use this. Let me know how it goes.


You like this place?  You like the work you’re doing?  Fixing the place up and all?  Helping to make it productive again, maybe?  Good.  Good.  Think it’s a good thing?  Think you’re doing the right thing?  Jumping right in and saving the farm?  You know what this land is worth to developers?  My Ma could make a lot of money.  The money’s not important to you, I know. She don’t care either.  No, she was never one to think about the future. (Pause.) Did I ever tell you the story about the dog and the train?  I didn’t?  Well, I was down at the train station in Depot Town not too long ago passing time with friends when we heard these people yelling outside.  A train had just gone through, but you don’t pay attention to those things too much anymore.  These people come in saying we have to come and see this.  I start to hear this wailing.  It didn’t sound like any living thing I ever heard.  So we go.  These people are all incredulous, so I’m thinking this must be something.  We get out there and there’s this dog running around and these people are trying to catch it.  I’m thinking what’s the big deal?  As we get closer, I see it’s not a dog, but half a dog.  I shit you not.  Half a dog.  The train hit it and cut it in two just around the hips.  It cauterized it so it wasn’t bleeding or nothing.  This thing is running around screaming because these people are trying to help it.  All it wants to do is lay down and die and these people won’t leave it alone.  I kept saying, “Someone shoot the thing.”  They told me I was a cold hearted bastard.  And these good hearted people kept trying to help this half a dog.  After about an hour the thing finally dropped.  But it lived an hour of agony and terror it wouldn’t of had to go through if the people would have left it alone.  Let it die right where it should have. They had to agitate it.  Keep it going.  But the end was the same.  Only it could’ve been a whole lot more peaceful.  Do we understand each other?  Good.

I have been enjoying reading this mother and son’s journey walking across New Hampshire. I am inspired by their fighting spirit. They struggle to walk, something I take for granted and look what they did.

Read about the trip and then I encourage to read the blog posts in the order they occurred. Be prepared to be inspired.

Click here to read Walking New Hampshire.


Categories: Life

The Story

It was dark outside. There was a loud noise and sirens. I remember being carried by my Mom down the street to Wendy Court. There was a bright spot,  huge flames and firetrucks. I was not yet 5. The flames appeared to be all over a garage. I heard the adults talking and what my child brain put together was a guy was working on a car and it burst into flames. He was killed.

I’m not sure how much time passed from the garage event to this next one, but I walked to this one. There were only sirens and I walked down the street to Mr. and Mrs. Brooks house with my Mom. My Dad was a volunteer fireman. There was a lot of smoke. I saw them bring the barrel of a dryer out Mrs. Brooks’ side door and douse something black inside. Then I remember seeing them lead Mrs. Brooks out looking very unlike the Mrs. Brooks who made us blueberry pancakes. I did not see Mr. Brooks anywhere.

We moved to the new house not long after this event and I don’t think I ever saw the Brookses again.

This left me with the idea that things can and did burst into flame. A fear of things like ovens, dryers and cars bursting into flame still haunts me today. It made cooking problematic. The broiler was the most troubling. Five hundred degrees! But as I cooked more and more in the oven and on the barbecue my fear lessened. Now I use the broiler all the time. It is a great way to cook steaks when you can’t barbecue.

The Steaks

The key to a good steak starts at the meat counter. You want to get a good cut with little white lines of fat running through it. The flavor is in the fat. Watch out for the clear white gristle. My preference is for rib steaks. They have several names, rib-eye, club steak, Delmonico etc., and are characterized by a swirl pattern and a tail. If I can’t find them, I will go with a strip steak or New York Strip. Porterhouse is to big and I don’t like t-bones, but they could be used if you like. 1/2 to 3/4 an inch is the best cooking thickness. Continue reading

I edit old posts all the time. I came across this one and still think it is a good idea for a screenplay.


I wish I had a clone.

Cloning myself. Sci-fi isn’t my genre, but here it goes.

I would need two clones with independent thought, but who think like me with my memories, sensibilities  and talents.

Clone One or Cloe One would be responsible for the house work, this would include the dishes, snow removal, gardening, lawn care and all the research that goes with making decisions on things like should I cut down the 11 conifers in the yard that will eventually die from needle-cast? Do the gutters on the house need to be replaced and how much will that cost? She would learn things like basic plumbing, basic carpentry and other handyman type stuff so I don’t need to pay some one. If a contractor is needed, she will handle all that.  This clone will keep house better than me; vacuuming every three days, dusting; doing the bathroom once a…

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Me16Jan18210.4 lbs

14 Days without a Soda


Wow! I need a different background.

My thinking on scales has changed over the years. It used to be I never cared if I had one or not. I was a skinny person. In fact, I was picked on in school because I was so skinny.

In my thirties when I started to put on 10 or so pounds over the Holidays, I would say, “I won’t stress out about weight. If my clothes start getting tight I’ll just do more exercise.” Yeah, I’m laughing to.

That 10 pounds or so adds up over the years. And with work and school who had time to workout. When I did step on a scale I was shocked to realize I weighed 160 lbs. How? I joined a gym and did good for a while.

Then my life fell into a comfortable spot. I had a job I liked, I was living in New York, I had my friends and we’d go out to good restaurants and drink good wine and liqueur.

The next time I stepped on a scale I weighed 190 pounds. I still did not own a scale. I joined Weight Watchers and had to weigh-in every week. I dropped 20 pounds in 6 months.

Moving back to Michigan, I went into a nutritional tailspin. Being back in Michigan, having to take my Dad to physical therapy and doctor appointments was a big culture shock and I was depressed for the first couple of years. Then I couldn’t find a job.

My Dad had a mid-thigh amputation and I moved back to my hometown, the house I grew-up in, so he could stay in house. With only one leg his life had changed dramatically and I felt sorry for him. Plus, I felt it was my duty. He is my father and everything should not fall on my sister.

My Dad knows nothing about nutrition. He was a meatcutter for over 30 years you would think he would know something, but you would be wrong. He now had one leg and could no longer walk the dogs 5 plus miles a day and ride his bike, but he kept eating every day as if he still did those things. He insisted on eating at Zorba’s Coney Island twice a day. It was easier to give-in than fight it.

I topped out at 283 pounds. I learned to cook by writing a cooking blog. (I plan to carry that over to this blog.) I put my foot down about going to Zorba’s. If my Dad wanted to eat like that, he could. I stopped.

All this has changed my thinking about scales. I give the credit to Weight Watchers. I owe my current success in losing weight to what I learned from WW. And it starts with the scale.

If I had formed the habit of weighing myself a few times a week before I had a weight problem, I could have done something about the Holiday 10 back when my metabolism was faster.  I would have realized I needed to change my eating habits and exercise more. It would have been right there in big numbers. Proof that my waist line was growing.

I now own a scale and like it or not, I weight myself a few times a week. I can’t deny it when that number 210.4 is staring right back at me. I have to be accountable. No one but me can change that number.

Another thing I learned from Weight Watchers is you can’t let yourself off the hook, but you have to be kind to yourself. It is about changing your relationship with food. I still eat like a thin person who never gains weight. Loosing weight is hard and I am not good at it. If this were easy, there would be no fat people.

I own a simple Taylor digital scale with huge numbers on it. It has become my friend.

img_2506This is what I weigh in the evening with my boots and three layers on. I do my normal weigh-ins in the morning, naked, after a shower. This is why I don’t consider it a real drop unless it is at least 10 lbs. This is a 6.4 lbs. difference.

How do you feel about scales?


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