Miss Doris’ Cookies

When I gathered the recipes from the knitting day at the lake several weeks ago, I asked one knitter to please add her cookie recipe to the collection. We didn't have these cookies that day at the lake, but she always brings them for the snack table at our knitting retreats. In my mind, I connect these cookies with knitters and knitting.

I was completely surprised when I got the recipe from her. I have eaten many (too many) of these cookies and I look forward to seeing that Tupperware container appear on the table every time we have a retreat. Some of our snacks are homemade. Some are not. There is never pressure on anyone to "make" something. And that makes the homemade goodies extra special.

These homemade cookies—yes, they still qualify as homemade—get 4 stars for easy. Because they start with cake mix! I would have never guessed.

Here is the recipe exactly as I got it from Miss Doris. The notes are hers. (Miss Doris, for the record, is very much a Mrs., but my children always called her "Miss Doris" when they were little, and the name lives on.)

     This is an old recipe from the side of a Duncan Hines cake mix box.

Makes about 3-1/2 dozen two-and-a-half-inch cookies.

1 box Duncan Hines Deluxe II White Cake Mix
1/4 cup light brown sugar, lightly packed
1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
1/2 cup chopped nuts (I use 1 cup. I like nuts. No nuts are okay, too.)
3/4 cup oil
1 egg (DO NOT try to make without egg—makes a disaster.)

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

In a large bowl, stir all ingredients together until well mixed. Drop from teaspoon onto an uncreased cookie sheet.

Bake at 375 for 10-12 minutes. (My oven requires less time, 7-8 minutes, depending on the size of the teaspoon drop. Just keep an eye on the cookies for the first pan full.)

Cookies will be white in the centers with a slight brownish colored edge. (The chocolate chips will burn if cooked too long.) Cool on cookie sheet for about 1 minute and then place on a rack to finish cooling.

For folks who can't have nuts, divide the dough and put nuts in only half. Sometimes I take a fork which has been dipped in water and flatten the cookie dough out after I have dropped onto the cookie sheet. This will make a thinner cookie and more crisp.


I whipped these up in no time this morning after breakfast. There was one egg left in the carton, exactly what this recipe calls for. That's as good a reason as any to bake cookies, right?

I used yellow cake mix because that is what I had. So know white or yellow cake mix works equally well.

Stir the dry cake mix to break up any lumps. Same thing with the brown sugar. I line my cookie sheets with parchment to speed the clean up. And I just moved the warm cookies to a paper towel to finish cooling.

This would be a great recipe for moms who realize at bedtime they need to send cookies to school the next morning. I typically keep a box or two of cake mix on hand. Often it's a buy-one-get-one-free deal. And it's a convenient jumpstart to dessert when time is short.

I will tell you that boxed cake mix used to be 18 ounces. It's now just over 15 ounces. That's a significant decrease in the dry ingredients. When I first stirred this up, I thought the dough was almost like batter. A thick batter, but I still wondered if they would spread too much. The dough sat a few minutes while the oven finished heating. And as the dry ingredients absorbed the liquid, it was fine. The dough spread just as any cookie recipe would.

One day I'll ask Miss Doris about her note not to skip the egg. Sounds like there is a story there!

A Willing Spirit

From time to time, people ask, "What is something you remember your mother saying?" And I think they likely mean something your mother said over and over. (In my case, that would be "stand up straight!") But a remark that my mother made exactly once has stuck with me for most of my life. 

When I was a young teen, our church was looking for a pianist to fill in one Sunday. And the preferred choice was a lady about my mother's age. Everyone said she played the piano beautifully. I never heard her because she never played in public.

So they went down the list and finally got to me. I wondered if I should do it and worried out loud to my mother about my not being nearly as good as Mrs. Johnson. (I just made that name up because I don't remember her name all these years later.) And my mother said, "Sometimes willingness is worth more than talent." And Mother encouraged me to go ahead—with my lesser musical ability—and play for the church service. Well, I played. And I survived. And the congregation survived. And I even played for a few more services while I was in high school

I'm honest about my musical ability. I fall somewhere in the middle of the line that goes from excellent to poor. I have joked that I am "the musician of last resort." The one who gets the phone call saying, "I've called everyone I can think of and no one will do it. Would you be willing to play on Sunday?"  That means that by the time I get the phone call, they have spent a week calling other people and I get the least time to prepare. And I probably need the most time! But I usually will play. I know I can do it. Not the difficult classical music that others might play, but lovely pieces nevertheless. And I survive. And the congregation survives.

Well, a couple of weeks ago, I got a phone call from a friend who pastors two tiny churches—congregations so small they could have worshiped in my living room— asking if I would play for both churches while the regular pianist was away. And he asked nearly two weeks ahead. So I said yes. I practiced and practiced. And I practiced some more. I made notes all over the music. First, in pencil. Then I used red ink to mark the more important spots. And for good measure, I added a couple of Post-It notes in strategic places. 

All of that preparation left me in good shape musically. I chose my music carefully. I marked my music well. But I'll be honest. Even when well prepared, I still get ridiculously nervous before playing for a service, mostly because I don't do this often. On the way to the first church yesterday, the nervousness reached a level that almost hurt. Then I remembered Mommy telling me about the calming technique she uses to settle her children when they are afraid, upset, or mad.

She tells them, "Smell the flowers." (Breathe in.) Blow out the candles. (Breathe out.)" And after several deep breaths and controlled releases, they begin to relax. My version of this was "Breathe in the calm" and "Blow out the nerves." I imagine there is a name for this breathing technique. But whatever you call it I was ready to play by the time I got to the first little church.

I was happy to share my music with these sweet churches that are hanging on by a thread. They value worshiping in spaces rich in tradition and history for their families. I was thankful for the chance to worship with them. I will never be an award winning pianist, but most times I am a willing musician. Thank you, Mother, for your encouragement. And for years and years of piano lessons.

This morning, I put away the music I used yesterday. And I pulled out some new pieces to work on. Just in case I get that call again.

Your life boat cannot sink with God at the stern

In the centre of the storm Jesus rested, while all around him the disciples were paralyzed with fear, the fear of dying.

Like the disciples we fear what we cannot control, what we cannot understand, and what we cannot see.

Our fear is contagious and so panic rages through a crowd who on mass turn from their fear and trample each other trying to get away from what they are afraid of. 

We stopped thinking, giving over to panic.

We lose sight of the possibility of joy, of help, of piece, of a solution, a the way through our fear.

All we know is panic.

Jesus rested into the chaos of the storm that night.  His  focus was not on the lightning, the thunder,  the way the waves rocked the small boat that he was in he was focussed on faith.

He knew his father controlled even that storm and in those moments while all around him terror raged he saw God and knew peace.

Here is the challenge that we are left with, to control  our fear, to focus on our faith in God to be the calm in the storm knowing  that God controls even the thing you are afraid of.

To learn to pray in the face of fear with the  expectation of joy and peace.

Grandma Snyder
©twosnydergirls 2018

Thank you Juanita Laverty for your words of wisdom this morning and inspiring this post.

Check out 5 Minutes Of My Day 2018

Check out the 5 Minutes Of My Day as we have been posting a photograph a day for the past five years.