Chocolate Chip Orange Cookies and words of wisdom from Elastinen

Chocolate Chip Orange Cookies

Happy Sunny Friday!  Happy Fall.

Fall is in in full swing and today, with the crisp air and cloudless blue sky, the gold, orange, red, and the few remaining green leaves on the deciduous trees are more vibrant than ever. I love this time of year.  It always seems a little bit magical to me, particularly early in the morning when the fog has settled itself in between the glorious hues of the fall leaves and the stubborn green of the evergreens, and is just beginning to rise and dissipate, creating a light, misty veil across the waking world.

I was up in Tampere for a few days this week, where I enjoyed a work event and an unexpectedly inspiring and passionate speech from a young rapper and hip hop artist.  Previously unknown to me, but famous in Finland for among other things, his work on a show called Voice of Finland (which I've never seen), 32-year old Elastinen, as he is called (his real name is Kimmo) told us his story about how he got to where he is today: from a kid who wasn't good at playing the guitar or sports, but found his life's joy through hip hop dance and Finnish rap and a lot of determination.

But his story, as unique to him as the stories of each of us are to ourselves, was more a story about how to live a good life than how to become a rap artist.  He talked about living a positive life (he was voted the "most positive person in Finland 2012").  He said his glass is always half full.  That there is no situation that is ever made better by negative thinking.  That to be positive or negative is a choice, and he chooses to be positive.  All of the time if he can.

Elastinen.  Not your average speaker at a business seminar.
And there was more.  When a person becomes famous, there are plenty of others who will line up to point out how lucky he/she is.  Says Elastinen:  "I tell people: you may get lucky once.  You might get a lucky break.  You'll be famous and loved for a second.  And that's when the hard work begins.  You have to always be working and always be improving if you want to be successful.  That's what I always do:  I move forward aggressively."  It reminded me of the quote I'd seen recently on the website from U.S. President Gerald Ford, (one of the least memorable presidents, but nevertheless...): "There is an old saying, the harder you try, the luckier you get.  I kind of like that definition of luck"  Ford's "old saying" is a paraphrase of a quote attributed to Thomas Jefferson, but old enough, I guess, to drive the point home that luck is nothing more than a lot of hard work in disguise.

And Elastinen wasn't done.  He had a point he really wanted to drive home: he talked about finding what you love and going after it.  Aggressively.  Moving forward.  Getting up when you stumble.  Dusting yourself off.  Not taking "no" for an answer. Finding your own way.  Being determined.  Being creative.  Not giving up.  "Tahto, Taito, Tieto are what you need in order to be successful", he said, "Willpower, Skill and Knowledge.  You need all three, but willpower needs to come first.  The order of the next two doesn't really matter, but without willpower, you don't really get anywhere.  You have to have the willpower to work for what you want."

Strong words for a roomful of 200+ business men and women at various stages of their careers and lives - some doing what they love and some, I bet, just surviving day-to-day, wishing they were elsewhere, doing something different.  Apt words for any one of us at any moment.  Energizing and inspiring words no matter where you want to go or what you want to be.

At the event there were speakers from world-famous companies:  Google. Nokia. LinkedIn.  Great presentations - they really were.  The speakers shared ideas and opinions on how to succeed in business and what you need to do to move your career and your company to the next level.

Who do you think everyone talked about and quoted for the rest of the day?  A young, enthusiastic musical artist from Helsinki.  I loved it.  And so did everyone else.

I can't pretend to bring you that kind of inspiration today, so instead I bring you Chocolate Chip Orange Cookies to munch on while you contemplate the words of Elastinen.  Enjoy, my friends, and have a great weekend.

More of the same, minus the one I used for quality control

Chocolate Chip Orange Cookies
adapted from Classic Chocolate Chip Cookies in Joy of Cooking

Preheat oven to 375°F / 190°C

In medium bowl, combine
1 1/4 cup / 2.5 dl all-purpose flour (add an extra 1/4 cup if you like a thicker, crunchier cookie)
1/2 teaspoon baking soda

In a large bowl or in the bowl of a stand mixer, beat until well combined:
1 stick/ 4 oz / 8 tablespoons / 115g soft butter
1/2 cup / 1 dl white sugar
1/2 cup / 1 dl brown sugar
zest of one organic orange (zested over the bowl to catch all the orange oils)

Beat well until the mixture is thoroughly combined so that the sugar and butter are completely incorporated (I suggest scraping down the sides of the bowl a couple of times during this step).  Then add:
1 egg
1/4 tsp salt

Beat again to combine.  With a spatula, fold the flour mixture into the sugar-butter mixture and stir until the mixture is smooth.  Stir in:
1 cup chopped chocolate or chocolate chips/ 6oz / 150g chopped semi-sweet chocolate.

Drop spoonfuls of the cookie dough onto parchment lined baking sheets, spaced 1.5"/3 cm apart to allow the cookies to spread.  Bake for 10 minutes or until edges are a dark golden brown and the centers still look soft.  Remove from oven.  Cool on the pan for 5 minutes.  Transfer to a cooling rack to cool completely, or, alternatively, transfer a few to a small plate, pour yourself a glass of cold milk, and enjoy.

Makes 24 cookies.

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