Charleston Chocolate Chip Cookie Crawl: James & Johns Islands

A few weeks ago, I attended a conference downtown and had a delicious chocolate chip cookie from a local bakery. My friend Vy is also a chocolate chip cookie connoisseur, works downtown, and believes it is the BEST chocolate chip cookie in Charleston. In the name of science, I wanted to put our theory to the test and try ALL the chocolate chip cookies in Charleston- a Cookie Crawl.

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However, Charleston is BIG- especially if you include bakeries in our surrounding areas. If you live in Charleston, you probably don’t live in a touristy area- you likely live in the suburbs and frequent a local bakery close to your home. Last week, I blogged about my cookie adventures in Mt. Pleasant.

Since I had to take a few days off working out after my follow-up PRP injection, I ventured out to James and Johns Islands to try three new-to-me bakeries: Baker and the Farmer, Luckhaus and Brubaker, and Stono Market/Tomato Shed Cafe.

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I brought the cookies home for a taste test. This way, I could try bites of each cookie and take notes, rather than eating a whole cookie and being too stuffed to try others.

Baker & The Farmer

Location: 3338 Maybank Hwy., Johns Island, SC 29455

Price: $1.50

Thoughts: Baker & the Farmer is down the street from Charleston’s famed Tattooed Moose, if you want something sweet after your dinner of duck fat fries. Not only is there a large gravel parking lot, there’s also handicapped parking as well as a ramp. With older parents, I know that Charleston- especially downtown- isn’t always the friendliest city for the mobility-impaired, but Baker & the Farmer is.

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Baker & the Farmer has a large selection of sweets like cakes, cinnamon buns, cookies, and ice cream. You’ll also find other local items for sale like dog treats and granola. The inside is small and fairly no-frills.

This cookie was extremely soft in the middle, with chocolate chips and chunks buried inside and a bit of crystalized sugar on top. It was a very buttery cookie but stayed together well with no crumbling. The cookie itself wasn’t overly sweet or overly chocolately, but I got a distinct molasses flavor, especially in the bites without chocolate (there were a few).

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Luckhaus & Brubaker

Location: 1939 Maybank Hwy., Ste. B2, Charleston, SC 29412

Price: $1.64

Thoughts: Luckhaus and Brubaker is a whimsical, colorful bakery that serves lots of baked goods and once again, ice cream. Walking inside, I had sensory overload from both the smell of the baked goods as well as the bright colors. I’m pretty sure my eyes got as big as a kid walking into Willy Wonka’s Chocolate Factory. Its location on James Island is extremely convenient to Downtown, Johns Island, and West Ashley and away from the Folly Rd. backup.

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One note here- there is a $5 minimum for credit card purchases, so bring cash or be prepared to spend more than $5. I’m probably the only person who spends less than $5 at Luckhaus and Brubaker, but I had two other bakeries on the list, and Clay wasn’t home to help me eat the sweets. The worker was nice and patient while I dug through my car for change.

Of the three cookies I tried on the islands, this cookie was the crunchiest, thickest, and largest. The chocolate was very visible- all chips (no chunks) and rather sweet. The middle was slightly softer than the edges, but still fully baked and had the most consistent texture of the islands cookies. The ratio of chips to cookie was balanced with chocolate in every bite.

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Stono Market & Tomato Shed Cafe

Location: 842 Main Rd., Johns Island, SC 29455

Price: 71 cents

Thoughts: Stono Market and the Tomato Shed Cafe are quite close to my home, but until I started this little experiment, I never thought to go there for a dessert. It is a very popular lunch spot with an attached brick-and-mortar farmer’s market. Convenient to West Ashley and Ravenel, if you’re in the rural areas and want to have lunch, dessert, and take care of some grocery shopping, you can do it all here.

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When I pulled up into Stono Market’s slightly muddy parking lot, I hurried inside to escape the rain as well as the aroma of fresh boiled peanuts just outside the door. I was surprised to find so many varieties of cookies and brownies. Everything was individually packaged and the same size. Who doesn’t walk into a store and hope the worker will give you the largest cookie/dessert/slice of pizza in the display case?

Unlike the other cookies I had so far, Stono’s cookie was softer on the edges and crunchier in the middle- I’m still not sure how they pulled that off. It was a thin cookie, with visible chocolate chips and no chunks. The cookie was very chocolately, with each bite containing chocolate chips (not hard for a smaller cookie), and the sweetest I had all day. Plus, you can’t beat a bargain.

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Final Thoughts: Chocolate chip cookies are subjective, so I hesitate to name a “best”. Some prefer chunks vs. chips, or soft vs. crunchy, and my favorite cookie may not be your favorite cookie. Of these three, I found myself drawn most to the balance of Luckhaus & Brubaker’s cookie.

Admittedly, I only drive across the bridge to the islands a few times a year, and generally, I’m heading to Folly or Kiawah/Seabrook Island. The next time I go to one of those places, I’ll be back to Baker and the Farmer, Luckhaus and Brubaker, or Stono Farms- because what’s a trip to your favorite beach or upscale golf resort without a sweet treat?

I purchased all chocolate chip cookies for this post. None of these businesses compensated me monetarily or provided free product in exchange for this post. If you’d like to pay me to eat cookies, this is basically my dream job and I will not turn you down.

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Posted in Charleston Cookie Crawl, Charleston Food, James Island, John's Island | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , | 7 Comments

The Perils of Platelet Rich Plasma (PRP): 8 Week Update

After my first sports medicine doctor (and current one, who was my second opinion) recommended a Platelet-Rich Plasma (PRP) injection for my low-grade, partially torn right hamstring, I sought out blogs and Facebook groups for opinions and support. It’s no substitute for medical advice, but talking to others who’d been through the process helped calm my fears. Likewise, if any of my injured friends need a listening ear, I’m here for you.

Although I haven’t been blogging much lately, I posted about my PRP experiences and plan to post recovery updates. As always, see a doctor if you’re injured, and remember every injury is different and your results may vary.

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Post-PRP Activities

My first injection was on Monday, June 11, and I rested completely until that weekend, when I did some gentle upper body lifting. The next week, I went on some walks and did upper body lifts and a bit of recumbent bike. I was super conservative- I want my hamstring to heal- but I was also busy with software releases for work and preparing for vacation. We were relatively active on the cruise (taking the stairs, walking in port), and I didn’t bother with the ship’s gym.

Four weeks post-injection, I was back to gymming for an hour a day most days. Gymming consists of ellipticalling, arc trainer-ing, and conservative weight training (usually BodyPump). Per doctor’s orders, running, jumping, and any explosive movements were- and still are- out.

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Post-PRP Pain Relief

I didn’t see any pain relief for several weeks. The week of the injection brought worse pain as well as tiredness/lack of energy due to the inflammatory response. For awhile, Clay and I worried that I’d be a non-responder and the injection wouldn’t work at all.

Five weeks post-injection, I noticed a definite improvement in pain when I woke up or sat for long periods, as well as an increased range of motion in my upper hamstring. Still, my hamstring was far from perfect, and I scheduled a follow-up with Dr. Geier (sports medicine orthopedic surgeon), who suggested a follow-up MRI and possible injection, depending on the MRI results. 

Dr. Geier is a wonderful doctor, and while I recommend him to any of my local friends who need an ortho, I hope to only see him on his YouTube channel instead of in his office.

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Last Saturday, I had the MRI, and I got the results on Monday.

The report said: Interval improvement in low grade partial tearing at the origin of the hamstring tendon complex. Associated marrow edema has nearly completely resolved.

In non-medical terms, interval improvement means the tear is smaller than it was at the last MRI.

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I visited my doctor the Wednesday after to see the MRI images and get his opinion, and while he did not measure the tear (initial tear was 8mm), the lack of inflammation and smaller tear were clearly visible on the MRI.

Dr. Geier commented that the tear looks 60-80% better, and he’s very pleased with the results of the first PRP injection. 

Round Two

Knowing how I feel, the time I’ve spent treating this injury, and the false hope I had back in March when I thought it was healing, I opted for a second injection (doc was on board).

The phlebotomist, Jason, came in to draw blood from my arm, which went amazingly well. Only one prick, and my blood came out very easily and quickly. I waited while the phlebotomy crew spun the centrifuge to separate the platelets, then brought them back into the room.

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My blood yielded more platelets, which were then injected at the site of my pain- the very top of my hamstring where it meets the glute. The injection went well and didn’t hurt, and I took several days off gymming to rest the hamstring and let the PRP settle. 

Round Two Recovery

Once again, I had pain around the injection/injury site over the next few days, so I sat on pillows. This post-injection pain was even worse than the first injection and very intense. Standing up and walking around were fine, but sitting without pillows hurt.

I accidentally sat on the floor to fold my laundry on Friday, and that was a big mistake. On Saturday, I decided sitting in general was overrated and opted to mostly stand or lie on my side on the couch that afternoon.

It was weird to go from having less pain to barely being able to sit, but since I’ve been through the process, I reminded myself that it’s temporary and a good sign. Thankfully, Sunday was much better, and I’m hopefully back on the road to continued recovery.

Here’s to hoping the platelets work their magic in the next few weeks!

Posted in High Hamstring Tendon, Injury, Platelet Rich Plasma, Team Janky | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 21 Comments