My mother was a prolific and talented baker. Every week, she made a dozen loaves of bread, biscuits, coffee cake, and sweet treats such as blitz tortes or Lady Esther cakes. I spent many hours in the kitchen helping her out and learning her secrets (how to measure flour, knead bread, and which vanilla to use, etc.).
I was mostly interested in the cookies and cakes…especially the chocolate chips and the Devil’s Food (the thick with homemade chocolate buttercream was the best part). These chocolatey confections were rarer in the household since I seemed to be the only chocoholic.
Instead, there were ginger snaps or molasses cookies, which my father loved. He also enjoyed spice cakes and fruit pies so these were part of the regular rotation. I considered them all to be “desperation treats,” still sweet but not preferred. Heck, at least I had some sugary delights!
The ginger snap recipe she used generally lead to puffy, soft cookies with a rather “meh” flavor. But every so often, her “tried and true” recipe would “fail,” and the cookie would be flat, crispy, with a remarkably buttery and spicy taste. I loved these “mistakes.” Those were the only times I went bananas on them.
When she passed away, the ginger snap recipe was one of the many secrets that went with her to the grave. I haven’t been able to figure out which one she used…and I have been a bit too timid, worried that I’d get the bland, pillowy version.
Right now, we’re in the middle of a deep freeze. This is typical for Wisconsin and was always my mother’s favorite time to bake (mine too). I’ve been too busy for that, so I found myself heading into the local boulangerie for a bowl of hot soup to go the other day. There is always a display of various treats such as tarts and macarons. Two large jars on the top of the case hold chocolate chip cookies…and ginger snaps. Feeling somewhat nostalgic, I decided, what the heck…I took a pass on the chocolate chip and grabbed a ginger snap to go.
Once home, I tucked in my soup and watched the news, with an eye fixated on that cookie. I was guarding it carefully in case my husband got a notion to take a nibble. This spicy goodness was going to be all mine.
As I unwrapped the cookie, the zesty scent brought back memories from long ago. A big bite revealed the crispy texture, so familiar from those “mistakes” that I dearly loved. I was transported, wistfully longing for my mother and all of the goodies she used to create in that tiny kitchen. Yes, even the dreaded spice cake.
Because that’s the thing: we often don’t appreciate something or someone until they are long gone. Only when enough time passes do we recognize the gift they’ve given us. We don’t have to wait to be grateful or to show our appreciation. Today, and every day, make an effort to let people know that you love them and their good efforts. You might discover later on that even the mistakes hold something delicious for you too.
I miss this guy so hard.
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What I’m Grateful For:
The good memories
A working furnace
The local bakery
Hot tea with a fresh cookie (is there anything better?)
Soundtrack for 2/5/21:
SHUTTUP by Snow Tha Product
© Theresa Reed | The Tarot Lady 2021
images from stock photography and personal collection