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Chocolate Chip Cookies – Traditional and Gluten Free

First day of school? Time for chocolate chip cookies. First day on the job? Time for chocolate chip cookies. It’s always time for chocolate chip cookies, says Leah Nyfeler.


Food, they say, is love.

A long-standing tradition at our house is first-day-of-school cookies. I’m not sure if this yearly treat started out for the kids or for me. True, there’s nothing better than the smell of freshly-baked, homemade cookies when you walk in the front door, but there’s something incredibly relaxing about baking in a quiet house.

Chocolate Chip Cookies: First day of school cookies

The cookies are always chocolate chip. My husband’s mother (Grandmama, to her grandchildren) was famous for her soft, puffy chocolate chip cookies, mailed in care packages to her kids all throughout their college years. Pure love in a box, wrapped in tissue paper, always with a letter enclosed.

Some weeks, those home-baked goodies were all my hubby-to-be lived off of (that, and some interesting variations of Kraft Macaroni and Cheese). Grandmama’s secret: the recipe right off the back of the bag of Nestle’s Toll House Semi-Sweet Chocolate Morsels. Perhaps part of what made them taste so divine was her impeccable timing.

Naturally, I used that recipe for my family, too; why mess with proven success? I’ve baked many, many batches of first-day-of-school cookies over the years. And, because food is love, I make these homemade treats for other special days.

Today, my husband started a new job. At our age, that kind of change can be a big, scary leap into the unknown. but it’s also exhilarating. We’ve decided that we’re only taking on work that is interesting or challenging to us. In this second half of life, our jobs should be as personally enriching as our home life. I’m sure this new venture will be a good thing.

When he gets home today, homemade cookies will be waiting.

Because I’m gluten free and he is sweet enough to eat that way with me, I followed a different recipe. Aptly, it’s the one found on the back of the Enjoy Life Semi-Sweet Chocolate Mini-Chips, which are also dairy, nut and soy free. They’re not quite the same as those cookies we’ve savored in the past. But I’ve done some quality control testing, and they’re not bad. Just new and different, like our empty nest and the adventures that lie ahead.

I’m counting on timing — and the fact that they’re made with love — to render them delicious.

And in a few weeks, my grown children can expect some cookies of their own. I’ll use Grandmama’s recipe, and there will be a separate batch for the kid who doesn’t like nuts. The cookies will be tucked into containers, nestled in paper and accompanied by a cheery note. I’ll send a text to let the kids know that there’s a box coming in the mail, though I hope each is secretly expecting it.

This is one instance where I really don’t mind being predictable. Because no one is ever too old for first-day-of-school cookies and some love.

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