Thursday, August 28, 2014

Baking Cookies

Today I made these snickerdoodles and a new era was begun. 

When I was a little girl, I used to bake cookies with my mom. Standing on a chair so I could reach the counter, I watched in fascination as she creamed the butter and eggs in the mixing bowl, then gradually beat in the flour. I was allowed to help, but only if I was very, very careful. Breathlessly, I waited for permission to lick the coveted beaters, but honestly, I loved this as a special time for us girls to do something alone together. As much as my three brothers loved to eat cookies, they didn't care to help bake them, so I savored - then and now - the rare opportunities to spend one-on-one time with my mom. I remember these moments well, and the memories are precious.

* * * * *

Then along came my own four little girls, and cookie-baking jumped to warp speed. As the master chef, I quickly learned to relax my standards and give each of my apprentices a full share of participation in the process. 

Just envision the chaos of ingredients flying toward the bowl from all directions, measuring cups handed back and forth, eager little bodies straining to get a turn to lick the assorted spoons and spatulas. 

Imagine four excited voices pleading to be assigned another job, clarifying instructions, and appraising the others' efforts. 

Picture forty little fingers cracking eggs, measuring spices, and sneaking toward the chocolate chips. 

Yes, compared to the blissfully calm cookie-baking moments of my childhood, chaos was a fact of life during my days as a mommy with a kitchen full of young 'uns. Still, I cherish the zany memories and wouldn't have had it any other way. 

* * * * *

Of course, those particular cookie-baking seasons of my life are over. I no longer need a chair to see into the mixing bowl, and my daughters can each turn out a batch of cookies in the snap of a finger, without a lick of help from me. 

Today, much to my surprise, a brand new season of cookie-baking began. I'm here in Michigan, visiting with my mom, who suffers from dementia. While she still prepares her own meals, cooking has become a tedious chore for her and I'm afraid her baking days are mostly over. 

This morning, she asked me to do her a favor. "Sure," I said, "What do you need?"

"Would you like to bake me some snickerdoodles?" 

Of course, I did. Right after lunch, I whipped up a batch while my mom looked on. Then we sat down together at the table and each ate two, while they were still warm from the oven. 

And this day will be a precious memory too. 

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