Guilt-free cookies

Guilt-free cookies

If I really wanted to be a successful blogger, I’d write a food blog. People like reading about food. I’m not really sure why. Whenever I read about food, the activity either creates dangerous food cravings or inflames my insecurity over not being a gourmet cook. And guilt over not caring. I’m just not a foodie.

I grew up in the Heartland of small-town America during the 70s and 80s, eating goulash and meatloaf smothered in ketchup (which I scraped off). Our vegetables were fresh from the field or fresh from the can, wilty and foul-smelling (which I also didn’t eat). The coolest lunches were Spaghetti-Os or Velveeta macaroni. I never ate a salad (and it was a garden one at that) until I entered high school and found myself in a restaurant in the Twin Cities.

But my mom made cookies 3 times a week. That’s what I can write about–learning to make 6 kinds of cookies before age 10. Chocolate chip, peanut butter, Snickerdoodles, sugar, gingerbread, oatmeal-raisen (although I vetoed eating that kind after a disturbing bite into an oatmeal-raisen cookie that I mistook once for a chocolate chip). And let’s not forget about pies, cobblers, muffins and coffee cake. French toast, pancake, and waffles, not from the freezer. These are the dishes that really matter. Food with flour and sugar and coupled with vanilla ice cream. And growing up believing that anything home-ade was intrinsically healthy.

I love to bake.

So I feel a little cheated, because now I’m middle-aged, and everyone’s gluten-free, and sugars are linked to dementia. I’m a lonely baker, drowning in a sea of health-conscious, gourmet connoisseurs who make special sauces and top everything with a sprig of something green that adds yet another surprising dash of flavor. I’m just a Midwestern, butter-wielding baker who’s successfully given up Crisco and wish I could be honored for that accomplishment.

I feel robbed. I’ve got 2 boxes of family recipes I feel guilty about using. A shelf of cookbooks collecting dust. But shows and websites and blogs galore about seasoning and grilling and saucing. And none of those recipes bring back the flood of memories from my mom’s lemon-yellow kitchen, standing on a stainless steel step-stool, wearing a big apron tied around my waist, with flour on my little nose.

I guess people like food blogs because food is emotive. Food stirs memories, longings, and pleasure. The sensory combination of sight, smell, and taste create wholeness and satisfaction.

Just hand me a cookie and let me write about that. There ought to be something glorious about feeding the heart and mind with the memories of years tucked away in those nostalgic places, the ones we uncover at Christmas when we dig out our rolling pins and use our grandmother’s cookie-cutters. I think I’ll write about that.

So thanks for reading, for indulging your mind as well as your body. Have a merry Christmas, and please, go make home-ade cookies with your grandmother’s recipe. And don’t feel guilty about it.

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