Lowell House’s Not-So-Hidden Treasure

by Landy Erlick ’19

Whether you are new to the Harvard campus, or are simply cooped up in the Quad working on problem sets, you may not have had the opportunity yet to attend a Lowell House tea – and you’re certainly missing out. Every Thursday at 5 o’clock sharp, the kettles are whistling and the students are hustling into the beautiful home of Lowell House Masters Diana Eck and Dorothy Austin.

The weekly gathering is a long-established tradition for Lowell students, but Eck and Austin kindly open their doors to non-House members as well. After waiting in line for several minutes with anticipation building, you are ushered into Lowell’s beautiful courtyard (weather permitting), and from there the opportunities are endless.

The green enclosure is a small departure from the rest of the event. There, a linen covered table offers tortilla chips and guacamole. However, in keeping with the elegant standards of this house affair, there is also a bright punch bowl of lemonade to keep guests hydrated and to serve as an option for the non-tea drinkers out there.


Inside, the real delights appear. Popping your head through gaps in the throng, you can spot Lowell’s famous monkey bread, chocolate chip cookies, peanut butter brownies, and some apple crisp – all fresh out of the oven. The warm, gooey pastries are the product of eager Lowell House student-chefs, fondly dubbed “Lowell Elves.”


Lowell resident Anne Mathews ’16 is baking for the first time this year. “Some things, likes the scones and cheesecake bars, are Lowell traditions,” Matthew explains. “But my favorite thing to make is sugar cookies.” Indeed, the cookies are a crowd favorite. Master’s Residence Manager Charlotte McKetchnie is in charge of the beloved function, though student bakers can be seen scurrying out the kitchen and into the parlor to replenish any plate looking too bare.


And if cookies aren’t your cup of tea, there are several cake options throughout the hour. First, a beautiful wedding cake.  (Yes, Lowell tea offers a small, white wedding cake.) Then, a decadent chocolate slice awaits. Finally, for the third restock, another beautiful yellow cake adorned with flowers. All of the food looks so professional, you would think Harvard offered a culinary class.


For the savory fanatics, there is the extremely popular baked brie and crackers. Be warned: if you’re not there within seconds of this platter being put down, you won’t even be able to find a trace of the delectable cheese. In keeping with the tradition of high tea, there is also a platter of finger sandwiches, ranging from a classic cucumber to a trendy Nutella.

And the attendees, hosts, and bakers aren’t the only ones enjoying themselves every Thursday.

“Dorothy and Diana have an adorable polydactyl cat named Willy who gets underfoot in the kitchen,” Mathews said.

A Chocolate Chip Cookie Upgrade: Neiman-Marcus Cookies

By Dana Ferrante ’17

Who doesn’t like a cookie and a little controversy? The Neiman-Marcus cookie recipe has been circulating on forwarded emails since the invention of email itself. Long story short, a woman resorted to paying $250 for a recipe she thought was going to cost her $2.50, and as her sweet revenge, she decided to send the recipe to everyone she knew. Whether you bake them to “stick it to the man” or because two types of chocolate in one cookie seems revolutionary, these cookies will without a doubt disappear if left unattended.

Edited Neiman Marcus

Yield: 112 Cookies


Note: Yes, 112 cookies. If for some reason you don’t want that many cookies at once, the cookie dough keeps very well in the freezer. While you could just simply halve the recipe, it may be worth your while to bake just a few batches and store the rest in a sealed container in the freezer for a rainy day. Trust me, it’s great to make cookies and only have to wash half as many dishes. With that being said, make sure you take the dough out of the freezer before you want to start baking; I suggest 1-2 hours depending on the size of the container.


  • A food processor (or blender)
  • Cookie sheets
  • Hand mixer optional


  • 2 cups butter (softened)
  • 2 cups granulated sugar
  • 2 cups brown sugar
  • 4 eggs
  • 2 tsp. vanilla
  • 2 tsp. soda
  • 2 tsp. baking powder
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 4 cups flour
  • 5 cups oats (blended to a fine powder in a food processor or blender)
  • 24 oz. chocolate chips
  • 1 8 oz. Hershey Bar (grated or blended in food processor)
  • Optional: 3 cups chopped nuts (we suggest walnut)


First, use food processor to blend the oats into a fine powder; set aside in a bowl. Next, grate the Hershey bar using either a standard hand-grater, or by breaking the Hershey bar into quarters and blend with food processor until broken into small bits about the consistency of brown sugar; set aside. Be careful not to blend the bar too long, or pieces will begin to melt and crumble together.

Heat oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit. In a large mixing bowl, combine the softened butter and both sugars. Once well-combined, add the eggs and vanilla. Next, mix in the flour, oatmeal, salt, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Finally, add the chocolate chips, Hershey bar bits, and nuts if you are using them.

Using a cookie scoop, spoon, or your hands, form the cookies into about 1-inch balls. Leave about 1 ½ inches to 2 inches between cookies when placing them on the cookies sheet; they will spread out! I personally am a fan of the 3-2-3-2 cookie formation, but any arrangement will do the trick.

Bake each sheet pan for about 10 minutes at 375 degrees Fahrenheit.

Since this is a butter cookie, make sure to keep them in a sealed container (if they even last that long before being eaten!).

[Where can you find a blender on campus? Try the Women’s Center kitchen in Canaday B Entryway or the Freshmen Dean’s Office.]

Neiman Marcus cookies and milk
They go great with a glass of milk!