Monday, December 7, 2009


So there is a blog I subscribe to via my Google Reader (Meme Express) that delivers a daily prompt - one that most would-be writers are always in desperate need of, and that is a "topic."

I don't feel like I am an actual writer. It always seems like everyone else's words flow so much more easily than mine do. I have writing envy fairly frequently when I look at the posts of my more creative friends. Since I seem to have an incurable case of writer's block, the daily prompts from Meme Express are immensely helpful in just giving me something, anything, to go with, in the writing-is-a-skill-that-must-be-exercised kind of way. Some days are more difficult than others. Other days you think you know exactly what direction you will take and the next thing you know you are someplace completely different. I like those kinds of days.

Which is precisely what happened when they delivered "Baking" into my Reader:

I loved Grandma Z's cookies. The cinnamon, the spice, the molasses. The battle with my much older and bigger cousin over who would get more. He usually won because he lived in the same town as Grandma, whereas my family lived two hours away. These are simple cut out cookies - no fancy cookie cutters, just a glass. The ingredients are rustic - no butter or shortening, but honest-to-goodness lard. Not to mention strong, cold coffee. And they are amazing. They are even better one or two or more days after they've been pulled from the oven. The spices deepen and mellow and blend into the best ginger cookie you've ever had.

Having her recipe now, making them just like she did, decades after I first fell in love with them, reconnects me to a part of the family that isn't very connected. For a variety of reasons we aren't close to mom's side. It'd be easy to blame one person or side or family unit, but it's never that simple or easy, is it? More it's along the lines of you can pick your friends but not your family. Probably needless to say, but I doubt any of us would pick the others to be friends.

But Grandma's cookies somehow breach that gap. My aunt was so excited to share the recipe. We mail them out to family in California. We share them with the next generation, as a way to connect to the ones before.

Turns out that's what my grandmother was doing too. Come to find out all these years later the recipe was actually her mother's. It's no wonder my great-aunts and their kids loved them as much as we did - it was part of their family tradition as well. So technically they aren't Grandma Z's cookies, but rather Grandma C's.

The branches in our family tree will never be close - at least not in that idealized, Norman Rockwell sense. But we'll always have that recipe to bind us together. It's comforting to know that if all else fails, all other attempts at conversation falter, we can always come back to our love of those cookies.