In some ways I am much more of a Lenten sort than a Mardi Gras type. Don’t like beads or drunkenness though over-eating and good, foot-stomping music are very much in the realm of things I like. Quiet pleasures and soul-searching are more my style than rollicking zaniness unless we are talking about basketball games and my outlandish humor that will get me in trouble before too long.

Growing up Catholic, I did my share of giving things up for Lent: chocolate, ice cream, plain M & M’s when the larger M & M category seemed like too great of a sacrifice. I would have made a great Canon lawyer. Of course I always found it amusing folks who eat fish on Fridays in the guise of sacrificing–Filet o’ fish at McDonald’s–yes that is suffering–but flounder and shrimp and lobster? Not exactly.

One year in high school I ostensibly gave up sweets for Lent. Obviously, that did not include bite-sized  powdered donuts, so every day I’d come home from school and tuck into the bag of those I kept on top of the fridge. I’m sure Jesus wept. My teeth hurt just thinking about it.

At some point, the idea of doing something for Lent was the approach I took. Too bad I can’t recall what any of those likely not all that honorable things were. My favorite year I gave up baking for Lent–which let me tell you was an enormous sacrifice. I think I excepted myself on my children’s birthdays–no need for them to suffer. Or me either, as it turned out. Think that was the year they both learned their way around this Toll House Square recipe:

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Cream 1/2 cup butter. Add 1/4 cup + 2 TBSP brown sugar and 1/4 cup + 2 TBSP granulated sugar. Beat in 1 egg and 1/2 tsp. Vanilla (but if you have a heavy hand, that works, too). Stir in 1 cup flour, 1/2 tsp. salt and 1/2 tsp. baking soda.  Spread in 13 x 9 inch baking pan.  Sprinkle 3/4 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips on top of batter. Put in oven for 2 minutes. Take out to swirl chips with a knife and return pan to oven. Bake for 6-8 more minutes. Don’t let cool entirely before you dig in–they are best warm and a little gooey. You are welcome. Remember every Friday in Lent that there is absolutely no meat in Toll House Squares.

I remember being at my older sister’s house years ago and being amazed that her older yet still quite young daughter could make chocolate chip cookies all by herself. Have your cookie and make your kid make it, too. That’s what sold me on having children and getting a microwave.  (The latter makes softening butter a breeze. There might be other uses for both children and microwaves.)  Before that we were long-suffering, having to anticipate our craving for Toll House Squares an hour ahead of time and take the butter out of the fridge to soften before we could make the cookies. Talk about a sacrifice.

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