Meditation, spiritual practice, creative outlet, sensory indulgence and pleasure: that’s what baking cookies is for me. I love to dream about them, make them, see and smell them and eat them! Most of all, I love to share them.
So, at this time of year, I bake A LOT. To bring to gatherings, to donate to shelters and firefighters and troops overseas, and to share with loved ones. To me, there is nothing so inviting, joyful and delicious as a homemade cookie made with LOVE.
Last night, I started up the baking, focusing first on the cookie drive I will be donating to on Sunday for troops overseas. This morning, I woke up feeling disappointed that I had only made 4 dozen cookies so far, when the numbers of folks who could use a lift is so enormous (read: everyone). I vowed to step up my productivity.
When I looked in my archives about what I’ve already written about baking, I had to laugh that on the same date last year, I was in a pretty similar place. Baking a lot (but not enough :), seeking to share, hoping to spread a little joy. So, here it is again, for friends new and old:
Yesterday, I was stoked to bake and deliver 8ish dozen cookies to a local donation drive for overseas troops, along with numerous homemade cards that my son and I crafted. I whipped on the ol’ Santa Hat, and headed east in pretty high spirits with my daughter in my sleigh (a/k/a minivan) to a church where the VFW hosted the project.
I was stoked further when we arrived at the church and saw the large crowd of folks who had generously turned out to pack mountains of tins of cookies, stuff baggies of toiletries, and fill cardboard care packages.
We had a few minutes to offer help and were encouraged to make cards or write notes on store-bought ones to provide a human, personal touch to these gifts to folks so far from home. The palpably kind atmosphere was so inspiring. Ahhhhhhhh.
Once I started writing my cards, though, the stoking was snuffed a bit. Because try as I might, I suddenly realized that I couldn’t write a note or bake a cookie or do something thoughtful for everyone who could use a small kindness. Here, or anywhere.
There’s such a huge human need. It hurts to think about it. I sometimes don’t know what to do in the face of that. Deep down, I know that spreading some kindness is better than nothing. But I found myself racing: racing the clock to try and fit in just one more note on one more card, saying one more blessing for someone I can’t even picture.
It was hard to leave.
So, today, I fired up the oven again, as we were down to only a few cookies. And I baked my brains out. Some for people who’ve been so sweet to me. Some for people I don’t know, like the firefighters in a nearby city whom I sometimes pass in my car.
The baking takes time, demands time. And attention. I wish I could go faster and bake more, bake for everyone who could use a little burst of sweetness. This is a spiritual practice for me, and I’m sad that I cannot make it go farther.
But I recall that I did promise a recipe for the Sugar Cutout Cookies, which I made again today. Simple to make, easy to double, and delish to eat. I’m thinking that maybe just maybe if I post this, it will offer sweetness to someone somewhere who could use the recipe or even the idea of the recipe. Whom I can’t bake for right now, but wish I could. This is for you.
Peace, and enjoy…..
Sugar Cookies (makes about 4 dozen)
3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) softened butter
1 cup granulated sugar
1/2 tsp. vanilla
2 1/2 cups flour
1 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. salt
1. In large bowl, mix first 4 ingredients. Stir in dry ingredients until just combined.
2. Chill dough until “roll out” consistency, approximately 2 hours. (add more flour if dough is too sticky),
3. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. On floured surface, roll dough out and cut with cookie cutters. Decorate with sugar sprinkles. Bake on ungreased cookie sheets 6-8 minutes. Remove to wire racks to cool. Eat one–or more!