Adjust 2 oven racks to be in the center of the oven. Turn the oven on to 350°F (180°C). Generously grease the baking sheets with shortening.
Put the flour, baking soda and salt in a medium mixing bowl. Stir with the wooden spoon to mix the ingredients. Set the bowl aside.
Put the butter, brown sugar and granulated sugar in a large mixing bowl. With an electric mixer set on medium-high speed, beat until the mixture is well blended. Add the egg and vanilla and beat until the mixture is smooth and creamy. (As you beat, turn off the mixer occasionally and scrape down the sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula.) With the mixer set on low speed, gradually add the flour mixture and beat until blended. Stir in the chocolate chips, and the chopped walnuts (if using).
Drop the dough by very rounded tablespoonfuls onto the greased baking sheets, spacing the mounds about 2 inches apart.
Place the baking sheets in the preheated oven. Bake until the cookies are nicely browned, 11 to 15 minutes.
Put hot pads and cooling racks on your counter. Using pot holders, remove the baking sheets from the oven and put them on the hot pads. Let the cookies cool for 3 to 4 minutes. Carefully slip a spatula under each cookie and transfer it to a rack. Let the cookies cool completely.
Makes about 18 cookies.
Date: April 7, 2003