alex's chocolate chip cookie recipe

Classic Chocolate Chip Cookies

½ c all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking soda
16 tbsp (2 sticks) salted butter, browned
8 tbsp salted butter (1 stick), solid, cut in chunks
1 c white sugar
1½ c brown sugar
5 tsp vanilla
2 tsp salt
2 eggs + 2 yolks
1½ c chocolate chips

1. Combine flour and baking soda in medium bowl. Set aside.

2. In a large bowl combine white sugar,  brown sugar, 8 tbsp (1 stick) solid butter, vanilla, and salt. 

3. Melt 16 tbsp (2 sticks) butter over medium low heat until bubbles form and butter turns a golden brown color, about 3 min. 

4. Add browned butter to the large bowl. Whisk to combine. Once butter is completely melted into the sugars, add eggs and yolks. 

5. Whisk vigorously for 30 seconds, then allow batter to rest for 3 minutes. Return and whisk for 30 seconds, then rest 3 minutes. Finally, whisk 30 seconds more and rest for 3 more minutes. 

6. Fold flour into rested batter to form a dough. Once flour is incorporated, mix in chocolate chips. Form ping-pong sized balls and place on a cookie sheet with parchment paper. Bake for 11-12 minutes at 375ºF. Yield about 32 cookies.

The original recipe came from Cook's Illustrated (seen here). It is only available online to paying subscribers to America's Test Kitchen. The only modifications I've made to their original recipe are adjusting the butter and flour to get the texture right when you double it.

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Lily & Cameron's Wedding // Newport Beach, CA

Can you believe how cute these two are? Lily's heirloom Tiffany jewelry! Blended families joyfully blending anew! The smiliest nephew you've ever seen! This mini wedding is a real treat. Fun fact: I got married in this same temple one million years ago. 

More [100% Kodak film] photos from Lily and Cameron's mini wedding right this way:

alex's slightly modified version of Food52's best apple crisp

click here for original recipe by Ella Quittner via Food52 

Crisp Topping:

- 2/3 cups almond meal (aka almond flour)
- 1 cup all-purpose flour
- 3/4 cup packed light brown sugar
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- 2 sticks butter, cold, cubed
- 1 1/3 cup rolled oats

Apple Mixture:

- 2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
- 2 teaspoons cornstarch
- 2 tablespoons light brown sugar
- 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
- 2 teaspoons apple pie spice/ pumpkin spice mix
- 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1 teaspoon freshly grated lemon zest
- 2 to 3 large apples—a juicy, firm variety, like Pink Lady, Honeycrisp, Jonagold, Braeburn, or a mix—peeled, cored, and cut into ~1/2-inch slices
- 2 large Granny Smith apples, peeled, cored and cut in to ~1/2-inch slices

  1. Heat oven to 400°F.
  2. In a large bowl, combine almond meal, flour, sugar, and salt, and whisk until integrated. Add the butter, and, using your hands, squish the butter into the dry ingredients to create small chunks. The mixture should look like wet sand and hold together when pinched, with some unblended butter streaks visible throughout. Add the oats and roughly mix in. Set in refrigerator to chill while you prepare the apples.
  3. Whisk the lemon juice with the cornstarch, brown sugar, cinnamon, pie spice, salt, and lemon zest in a large bowl. Add the apple slices and toss gently until the slices are evenly coated. Transfer to a 8x8-inch baking dish (no need to grease it). You want about 1 inch of space between the apple slices and top of pan, so if you have too many apple slices, give them to the kids for a delicious snack.
  4. Sprinkle the streusel evenly over the apples, breaking into olive-sized clumps where needed, and transfer to oven. Bake for about 30 minutes, rotating the pan halfway through, until topping is crisp all over and browning in spots, and the apple mixture is bubbling up at the sides. The apple pieces should be tender and easily pierced with a fork. (Note: If spots begin browning too deeply before the apples become tender, you can turn the temperature down to 375°F.) Let cool about 15 minutes before serving. I also enjoy this at room temperature with whipped cream.
  5. Note: this recipe is very forgiving and can be easily 1.5x'd or doubled in a 9x13 pan. 

07/21/22 (via ig)

 Day 1 in @sequoiakingsnps. We got a late start leaving Bakersfield and arrived in the park around 1pm, about 100°F, so we decided to play in the river first. This spot in the river was near Hospital Rock, which is ironic, because right when we were about to leave and continue up the mountain, I fell on a rock and injured my elbow and y’all I would have *loved* to be in a hospital with AC and morphine. (I am okay!) @maryssor was the ultimate road trip hero and carried all three kids across the river and back to the car. I’ll post more about our other stops but first I needed to put these photos and videos here ✨ the hours we spent in this spot were sacred. Watching my precious children experience such purity and wonder filled me with gratitude and peace. It’s tough for little ones to drive such a long way, but we all did our best and were so wonderfully rewarded by the experience we had here. There was a moment when Charlie couldn’t quite find the words and said, “I’m really happy in this water Mom!!” And I said, that feeling you have right now is called JOY! And he replied, “yeah I’m just so joy!” So joy.

the whole sky

 it's 10/20/23
i finally listened bigger than the whole sky for the first time
people said it was about miscarriage
and i couldn't bring myself to go there

i thought my miscarriages would someday 
fade away
because i know i've had all the babies i'll have

so there's nothing to worry about

they're not gone
they still loom so large in my life

they're not so bright red anymore
but each one

5 miscarriages
it's a lot

it's still a lot

i wish they'd never happened
miscarriage is so confusing
along with so many other feelings - 

hopeless "this was a miracle and now it's gone"
sad "i wanted this so bad"
wondering "why?" "how long will it take me to heal?"
haunting "maybe i could have done something"
angry "i'm trying to do the right thing"
exhausted "now we have to start all over"
sore "why does it hurt so bad"
embarrassed "all i want to do is talk about this but no one cares as much as me"
overflowing "wait but why"
upside down "how could this happen? i'm healthy, i've had healthy babies already"
disappointed "gosh i was so excited to have this baby"
disheartened "i want to give up"
heavy "this is too hard"
confusing "what exactly have i lost? how sad do i get to be?"
desperate "please God no please not again not again"

and even now
typing it all makes me cry

"you were more than just a short time"

Thank you to my paying subscribers

This message went out to paying subscribers of Handpicked on 10/3/23.

Hi wonderful supporters,

First and foremost, I thank all 27 of you receiving this message for supporting Handpicked with your dollars.

Tomorrow I’ll be announcing that Handpicked will no longer follow the paid subscription model. Going forward, all of the weekly newsletters and occasional extras will be free to everyone.

After a few months and a handful of paid issues, I’ve paused to look at what’s working and what’s not. To be frank, I’ve felt so weird and awkward promoting paid subscriptions. Talking people into buying my creative work has always been the thing I hate most about being a working artist.

It has occured to me that there’s another way, and that way is community support. Some of you have told me that you don’t really care that much about the Deep Dives and Gift Guides, that you only upgraded your subscription to support my work. To support me. And that makes me burst into tears.

If that’s not the case for you, and you’d prefer a refund, please reply to this email and I’ll take care of that right away.

In future newsletters, you’ll still see a clickable button to “support my work.” I’m going to try an experiment for the next few months and see if any readers besides you want to support Handpicked “just because.” Once the experiment is over, I’ll check back in with you.

It might sound like an odd time to bring up my values, but that’s the real reason I’m ending the paid subscription plan. The two traits I respect most in myself are openness and willingness to help. I’ve felt muddled as I’ve tried to discriminate between what newsletter posts “deserve” to be paid for and what should be free to everyone. I work hard to create every single issue of this newsletter and, while it’s never perfect, it’s always my best. Free and paid. Thank you for wanting to pay for it.

Last week I was really freaking out about my career, full spiral, ugly crying, pit of despair, etc. I found myself on my knees asking for clarity from my Higher Power. The answer that came to me was: “Just stop.” And while I am still figuring out exactly what that means, one conclusion was easy: I need to stop treating this newsletter like a growth mechanism and stop treating my audience as leverage. Handpicked is a beloved creative project, not a tool. You are a person, not a stat. I feel enormous relief as I give myself permission to stop trying to optimize/ hack/ monetize/ add value/ grow exponentially/ whatever else the newsletter expert bros say to do, and go back to putting this newsletter together 100% from the heart.

Thank you x1000.

July + August film // 2023

Independence Day, two museums (NHM, Getty Center), portraits of everyone, some closeups. This summer has definitely been my closeup era. 

After a year+ of not shooting very consistently, I feel like myself again. Making photographs grounds me. Maybe that's a little dramatic... photography might just be the frosting of my life. Still. So joy.

All photos made by me on Kodak films. Canon EOS 3, 50mm 1.2 lens ///
more more more ↓

June film // 2023

A few pieces of June. E's 9th birthday, berry picking, bugs in the yard, Huntington Gardens, Tanaka Farms, school's out. Shot on Kodak film by me through Canon EOS 3 // 50mm 1.2L lens.

more down here ↓

follow your curve

 i remember taking lucy to the pediatrician when she was a baby. she was sort of small for her age, but her doctor assured me that as long as Lu was following her own curve, she was fine. if she had started in the 60th percentile, she didn't need to be catching up to the 90th in order to stay healthy. staying in the 60's was right for Lucy.

I imagine that when I meet my Makers, They're going to ask me what I did with the tools I was given. Did i follow my own curve? I can't imagine my Heavenly Father and Mother being disappointed in me for being 100% unathletic or for winning zero Nobel Prizes or not having twelve children. That’s not the curve I’m meant to follow.

Though I can't remember it, something in my gut tells me that They handed me a few talents, said, "Be good. Be kind. Find us. Use these." and sent me to live on this planet.

Sometimes it's hard to talk about our talents without feeling rude or ridiculous, but I'll try. Here are some of the tools I brought with me from Heaven.

I listen.
I am a sharer.
I am okay with being wrong.
I'm gorgeous. (Just kidding, wanted to see if anyone was paying attention)
I feel what others feel.
I am a knowledge collector (not to be mistaken for great student).
I am an includer.
I make pretty good food.
I am really good at doing funny voices when I read books to my kids.
I capture moments to help others relive important memories.

K your turn. What’s your talent? Don’t be shy.

originally shared on instagram July 5, 2021

i loved you when

 when you bought me flowers after the baby's circumcision
when you said, "you're doing great babe" – all 1,099 times
when i saw this dorky greeting card in cvs
when i got my film back and that photo of you kissing the baby 
when you brought me tea during zoom therapy
when you changed the channel because there was a joke about eating disorders