Categories
General

May Day Dark Chocolate Chip Cookies

Since I was a child, I have loved baking. In particular, I’ve loved chocolate chip cookies. Ruth Wakefield‘s Toll House recipe is an inspiration. Since 2010 I have been playing with Ruth’s recipe to put my spin on it. Amusingly after starkly diverging from it at first, the final product has organically come full circle back to its roots with many similarities to that recipe.

It’s hard to beat the best, but after many test batches and tweaks, I’ve finally gotten it to a place that I feel is ready to share with the rest of the world. I’ll let you be the judge.


May Day Dark Chocolate Chip Cookies
by John Morrison

Yield: 48 cookies
Cook time: 10 minutes
Prep time: ~3 hours (including chilling)
Baking temperature: 375°

½ cup bacon fat
½ cup (1 stick) of unsalted butter at room temperature
½ cup wildflower honey
¾ cup firmly packed light brown sugar
1 shot bourbon (~3 tablespoons)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon baking soda
2 ½ cups all-purpose flour
2 ¼ cups dark chocolate chips

  1. Combine butter and bacon fat in a large bowl and mix in an electric mixer on low until creamy and combined
  2. Add honey and brown sugar gradually. Beat until light and fluffy ~3 minutes. Make sure to scrape down the bowl as needed.
  3. Beat in vanilla, bourbon, and eggs one at a time and scrape down the bowl as needed. Add baking soda and beat into the mixture at low speed.
  4. Add ⅓ the flour and mix on low speed. Gradually add remaining flour until blended.
  5. Stir in chocolate chips.
  6. Cover bowl and chill for at least 1 hour in the fridge.
  7. Preheat oven to 375º
  8. Scoop generously rounded tablespoons 2 inches apart on silicone baking mat or parchment paper.
  9. Bake at 375° until golden brown around the edges. (Approximately 10 minutes on a baking sheet ~9 on parchment)
  10. Remove from the oven and place cookies on a cooling rack for 10 minutes.
  11. Arrest the cops who murdered Breonna Taylor.
  12. Enjoy!

Notes: I usually get my dark chocolate from Blommer. I prefer to buy the ‘Alpine Dark’ broken ends and break them up further to use as chocolate chunks, but chips work excellently as well.

As far as the bourbon is concerned, I usually use whatever we have on hand. I don’t usually use Four Roses Single Barrel, but I did for this batch because it’s my favorite bourbon, and this batch is special to me.

You’ll notice there is no salt in the recipe, that is because the bacon fat should supply more than enough salt by itself. If you’re looking for an excellent way to make perfect bacon while preserving the grease I recommend checking out Dan Benjamin’s Bacon Method.

I landed on the “May Day” name because May 1st (aka International Worker’s Day) was the day I finally ‘froze’ the recipe and because I prefer to it with all local ingredients when possible.

I’d like to give shout outs to Gorden Tebo, Weien Wang, Rocco Palladino, Sean Wolter, Kellen Terret, Doctor Susan Brown, and Will Goodwin of Spoken Cafe. Over the years, each of these folx gave me feedback, advice, or inspiration that helped make this into something I’m very proud of.

Finally, a special thank you to my mother, Susan Morrison, for fostering my love of baking and my love of cookies in particular. Happy Mother’s Day, Mom. Your share will be in the mail tomorrow.

Thank you all.

Categories
Technology

On Leadership in the Face of a Pandemic

We are going through a collective trauma right now.

Unemployment is skyrocketing.

Companies are scaling back and laying off whole offices.

Thousands are dead, and we’re just scraping the surface.

The companies that are in the enviable position to not only feel stable, but to continue to hire in this economy should expect employees to have a dip in productivity right now, adjust their expectations, and communicate that as okay to their teams.

What’s not okay is putting an employee on a “Performance Improvement Plan” (aka “PIP”) in the middle of a global pandemic.

When people are under shelter-in-place orders, and having to weigh the safety of simply going out for groceries while also worrying about loved ones in other states. The last thing they need is “leaders” dangling their job security over their heads as well.

Moments of crisis tend to reveal who people really are. Do you want to be a leader, or do you just want power?

Take a moment and think before you react.

Categories
Chicago General Photography

Returning to the Impossible

An Polaroid-style instant photograph depicting the statue of Abraham Lincoln in Chicago's Lincoln Square neighborhood.
Lincoln Square, Chicago – 1 April 2020

From January 1, 2012 to January 1, 2014 I took a single instant photograph a day every day with a vintage Polaroid camera and ‘Impossible Project’ instant film. And then I stopped.

With all of this corona virus stuff going on, and us all trapped at home, and many of us unemployed, I figured it was time to start creating again.

To maintain my physical and mental health I’ve been cycling daily throughout Chicago (don’t worry, I’ve been wearing a mask and gloves, and keeping proper social distance from everyone else) so I decided to pull out some of my instant cameras and start sharing what I see with the world.

So, ‘The Impossible Year’ is back… for now. We’ll see how long I keep it up.

This content will be posted primarily to Tumblr via the original blog: https://theimpossibleyear.com but I’ll also be cross sharing it to Twitter and Facebook as well. I hope you’ll join me.

Cheers,

John

Categories
General

Reflections – Part 1

Surrender
Surrender
But don’t give yourself away
.

In Mid-2018, five years after joining ActiveCampaign as employee number 10, I was running a team of 15 people as the company’s product manager for mobile.

The past five years had felt like a blur. We had recently hit several company milestones, and I had hit several career ones. We had just launched our first iPhone app, and I was preparing to present at the company’s first-ever Activate conference, where I would announce two more mobile apps.

Cheap Trick’s ‘Surrender’ was booming through the event hall as I snuck backstage to catch my breath and reflect.

Sitting backstage at ActiveCampaign's Activate conference.

My job had changed a ton, as had the company, and there was so much to be proud of, but I was miserable. 

I wasn’t sleeping, I was tired and sore all the time, some days to the point where I couldn’t walk. To make matters worse, I was two months away from getting married and majorly behind on planning. I had been pouring so much of my time and energy into the job that I had entirely neglected myself. 

I had given up all of my individual creative pursuits and hobbies, shut down my previously vibrant LLC, quit boards, and community groups I was passionate about, and almost entirely disappeared from my friend circles. Long overdue doctor’s appointments were put off as well as surgeries, and I had been diagnosed with Hashimoto’s Hypothyroidism. Still, I hadn’t been following up with my doctors to take care of it properly.

Quite simply, I was far from the best version of myself: I was suffering from a serious case of burnout. 

So, after consulting with leadership, and my fiancé, I came to the conclusion that it was time for a change.

Six weeks before my wedding, I announced I would be leaving the company.

I didn’t have much of a plan, but I knew what I had to do: Extend our honeymoon, book a ton of doctor’s appointments, and take care of myself.

To be continued…

Categories
Chicago Theatre

Midsommer Flight nominated for 2019 Broadway in Chicago Emerging Theatre Award

I’m so proud to share with you all that Midsommer Flight has been nominated by the League of Chicago Theatres as a 2019 Broadway In Chicago Emerging Theatre Award Finalist.

Midsommer Flight is a not-for-profit theatre company dedicated to making Shakespeare’s plays accessible to all audiences in Chicago’s parks. They strive for diverse casting so that everyone can see themselves in these works and be inspired. 

I’ve been the principal graphic designer for the company since 2012 and I now serve as President of the board of directors and I can’t overstate how proud I am of this company. 

Beth Wolf, our founder and artistic director, has truly created something amazing here and I’m honored to work with her and the rest of our awesome board.

Last, but certainly not least, is our incredible ensemble. I’ve been watching them knock it out of the park season after season and they really bring their all to each and every performance and this nomination would not be possible without their, very beautiful, hard work.

Cheers to all!