There he was, standing at the gate with a purple lunch pail, wearing that wide smile and calling my name with that big, booming voice I so clearly remember.
I ran and threw my arms around him. After three months of summer camp, I was finally home — the deep pit of my stomach now at ease. I was ready to relax, to be taken care of, to be nourished.
My first request, before I even hit Portland soil, was fresh-baked cookies. And there was Dad, peeling open the lunch pail to reveal a bag of chocolate chip cookies and container of milk. As we munched morsels on the drive to our house, I learned that returning home tasted like cookies – sweet with a bit of salty goodness.
Yes, cookies comfort. Cakes console. Muffins make mornings.
Life is baked.
When we return home or allow our minds to churn with thoughts of childhood, we think of those cookies, the birthday treats, the candied fruit cake Grandma would make every Christmas.
For me, those memories have no trace of low cal, half fat or artificial sweetener. They were good and comforting because they lacked those things. They were good because they were real and rich.
Life can be compared to many things, but today, I see life as baking. Here are my three suggestions as you’re adding things to your life’s recipe.
Uncomfortable word, right? Fat can be judgmental. Fat can make us want to hide. Fat reveals and fat melts deep into the crevasses of our self esteem.
But in baking, butter, aka FAT, is essential. If you try to skimp on using the full amount, your treats will trick you.
I recently made a batch of cookies and accidentally used one stick of butter instead of one CUP of butter (two sticks. Now I know). The cookies tasted fine for the first hour, but when I reached for one the next day, it felt like biting into a rock. I should have used that second stick of butter.
The good cookies use all the butter that’s required. Fat renders tenderness. It makes cookies soft and keeps cakes moist.
In life, don’t avoid using the butter – don’t avoid using the fullness of your heart because you think it’s too much. Go in. Dive deep. Don’t fear fat.
Real cream, not skim milk.
Cream – rich liquid goodness. Skim milk – near close to water.
I tried making a chicken stroganoff, substituting one percent fat milk for cream. The results? A watery mess. One spoonful and I was left craving something that would truly nourish. I was left longing for the real thing.
From the beginning, use the real thing. Use the real cream.
If you know what you’re called do, do everything it takes to accomplish it. Don’t use half your tools or the ones you know don’t take as much energy. You the tools He has equipped you with. Dance to the song He plays for you, not the one that is more popular. Dancing your own dance is so much richer than floating to a half-hearted trance.
Make it from scratch.
Scoop flour out of the bag. Let puffs of powdered sugar rise and settle on your nose. Shake spices out of jars and breathe in memories.
Baking outside the boxed mix doesn’t mean you’re trying to show off skill or culinary technique. It means you’re not taking the easy road.
Baking from scratch requires time and pushes you to forget about anything else that isn’t in the bowl. Baking from scratch nudges you to creativity and gives you the space to think about others – maybe even the people you’ll share a few of those scones with.
Don’t be so quick to go buy the mix just to get things done faster. Embrace that hour instead of snatching up the 15 minutes. Invite someone to bake in the kitchen with you. Play, please.
Make your life a fragrant offering. Use yourself fully (fat). Don’t try to substitute your true self for something else (real cream). Embrace the journey and set aside convenience (bake from scratch).