By Lydia Wylie-Kellermann
Over the last several weeks, I seem to have developed a chronic chocolate chip cookie baking problem. I would say that Isaac and I are baking a batch almost every other day. And it’s not just the baking that has become chronic, but the eating too. I think it is because I am waiting for my sister to give birth. It could really happen any second. It feels like all I know how to do in the waiting is bake these cookies.
You see, my sister, was born at home when I was three and a half. My mom labored upstairs in her bed while I was downstairs in the kitchen baking chocolate chip cookies. Ever since then, I bake Lucy cookies every year on her birthday. When Cedar was born, Lucy stayed home with Isaac and they baked chocolate chip cookies and delivered them to the hospital.
We baked a lot of chocolate chip cookies growing up. Mostly with my mom. She was not an amazing cook by any stretch of the imagination and we didn’t make a diversity of cookies. It was pretty much always chocolate chip. My mom always had us “mix with our hands,” which literally meant she would dump in the ingredients and Lucy and I would try to fit all four of our hands in the bowl and we would mix up all that hard butter and flour. Then together, we would have to lick our hands. We easily ate ¼ of the dough between the three of us each time we made them.
I have the recipe card with my mom’s handwriting on it. It isn’t any special recipe. It isn’t passed down through the generations. It’s probably just the recipe from the back of a bag of chocolate chips. But it’s still pretty damn sacred. There is a sense in which baking them feels like reconnecting with my mom. It somehow makes her present.
She becomes present in the reading of her handwritten notes, in measuring the way she would measure, in my own hands as I see her hands, in the teaching of my children, in the taste of the cookie dough, and in remembering the stories. The physical, tangible, sensual act of doing something with my hands over and over breaks down the thickness of that veil between life and death.
Feels like a pretty important thing to do- to not just post recipes on Pinterest, but to write them out in our own hand writing, to save the ones our loved ones used, to tell the stories, to make the same old thing over and over.
This post begins a series on baking and cooking as part of the work of discipleship. How and what we cook has so much to do with how we spend our time, what we grow, where we live, who our ancestors are, the stories that create us, and what we choose to pass down. So, keep an eye out, because we are going to be sharing recipes and telling stories. Our mouths will water and our hearts will smile. We would love to hear from you about your own stories and recipes! Please send them to me at firstname.lastname@example.org.