Recipes

Grief Cookies – A Story of Resilience

I just turned it over onto the cutting board. The banana bread, that is, as my pinky fingers flexed to hold the hot glass bread pan over the corner. It bounced out of the pan. Success. No oozing. No repeat experience like this one. I am learning to follow the instructions and actually leave the gooey batter in the oven for the full time that the recipe calls for. It usually works, if you follow the directions.

I think that’s why I like baking. You take flour – yum – sugar – double yum – and butter -yes please – and can blend them into all kinds of beautiful things. Add the essence of cocoa, a bit of fruit, chunks of chocolate and the results get even better. I can follow a recipe and mix and blend and whisk and the outcome is usually pretty tasty. Sure, sometimes an extra bit of baking soda gets in, but that just adds fluff to the cookie. Fluff, cushion, softness, chew. A beautiful thing.

I wish there was a recipe for grief.

Er no, ha, not a recipe. All that requires is loss of something big or small.

I wish there was something like a baking manual for grief. A set of instructions that tell me to do this or that and put your emotions and anger, newly complicated family relationships, and friends who don’t “get you” anymore in an oven at 350 degrees for ten minutes and ding, you’re done. You’re free from this drastic change and ready to be enjoyed.

No such thing.

This week Dylan has been sick so I’ve been trying to keep myself occupied in the evenings as he rests on the couch. On Tuesday, after watching The Crown (we have to pace ourselves people. There’s only eight more episodes in Season Two!) I wanted to bake. I went searching in my pile of Cooking Light magazines. I had a specific one in mind.  I started with the March 2016 edition. No, that couldn’t be right. The April edition would have arrived by then.

Cooking Light April 2016.

I inhaled sharply.

That magazine sat on my counter top as I cooked the last meal my dad would ever eat. Its open pages got speckled with oil as we prepared the main meal. I had tagged the corner, folding the fragile paper over as I was waiting to make the cookies after they went home for the evening. On March 17, 2016 I made these cookies and they turned out perfectly. And then, the morning of March 18, 2016, my dad died.

I ate these cookies the morning of his funeral for breakfast. I chewed absent-mindedly on the chocolate chunks and sea salt as I stared out the window from our kitchen, moving my foot against my calves as my black tights bothered my legs. Then someone told me it was time to go.

Later, in the evening, I offered the cookies to my cousins who were visiting from out of town. They reached into the jar, fingering the morsels, looking at me cautiously as they took a bite.

Weeks later I put that magazine back in the pile and ignored it. For almost two years. It took that long for me to be able to flip through the pages and find the recipe. Tuesday night I texted my mom for support, got out my white mixing bowl and I baked.

Screen Shot 2018-01-18 at 7.35.40 PM.png

I mixed flour and sugar and honey and butter and chocolate. I rolled the dough into tiny little balls. Smooshed salt into them with my fingers. I waited while chemistry worked its magic in the oven. And after the cookies cooled, I sat on the kitchen floor and ate one. Or two. Ok, yes, two. Then I packed up a tupperware full of them and sent them to work with Dylan.

Grief cookies.

Bummer there is no set of instructions for getting over grief. Maybe I never will. But I will continue to get back my strength, choose resilience, and bake. The gift of beautiful baked goods lightens others hearts. Extra baking soda effervesces and softens mine.

 

 

Advertisements

Favorite Things – July

Little Rascals Quote

 – Hint Hint –

Bonus points if you remember which charming movie character swooned with the words above.

We made it! To July! To real, live, summer. Here are my favorite things this month. Fresh cooking and little life savers that keep the bugs away and make the evenings sparkle. Enjoy!

  1. Marcus Off Duty: The Recipes I Cook at Home

I picked up this delightful cookbook at the library and could not stop flipping through the pages. Famous Chef Marcus Samuelsson shares his favorite recipes, and even includes a playlist for each type of food that inspires him! May I suggest his recipe for Crab Fried Rice on page 44. Um. Yum.

2. Popsicle Molds Set – 6 Ice Pop Makers + Ice Cream Recipes E-book

Remember what Darla says. Popsicles melt quickly on the 4th of July! And I’m really into making my own this summer. Thanks to my mother-in-law who let me borrow her molds. May I suggest this recipe?

3. Citronella Tub Candles

The bugs! They are out to get me! I have to invest in a citronella candle to keep the little stinkers away. While the candle smells bad, it can still be pretty.

4. Globe String Lights with Clear Bulbs

True confession – we’ve had a set of globe lights in a box on our kitchen table for a few months. They eagerly await getting stapled to our deck so the nights can be twinkly and charming. I love the way these look at night. I promise, we will get ours up soon.

5. Jesus Calling: Enjoying Peace in His Presence

I’m working on committing to a devotional and after coming across this one at my good friend’s house (see here) I was thrilled to receive a copy. Each morning I have the reminder to look for Jesus. This is a good and beautiful thing.