My grandma and I had a special relationship. Both she and my mom instilled in me a love of baking. I had no idea then that our time together in the kitchen would become the inspiration for one of my life’s most unexpected endeavors.
Growing up, one of my favorite ways to spend time with my grandma, for there were many, was in the kitchen. Eating is a necessary part of everyday, but making food together was fun for us. Her recipes were often simple, but each one was concocted with love. Working together turned the mundane into valued experiences.
Valentine’s Day cookies were some of the most anticipated goods to come from her kitchen. Every year, Grandma would carefully select a variety of recipes to combine into her signature cookie sampler, then spend hours in the kitchen baking them. Grandma wrapped them in waxed paper, the particular crinkle of that variety of paper is still nearly palpable to my fingertips, and set them in a box to entrust to the local postal carrier.
I fondly remember the excitement of finding those boxes on my parents’ front step and the eagerness with which we opened them to discover which delicious cookies she had sent that year. Baking cookies was one of her many ways of loving us.
My grandma demonstrated love with time together, and my own mother similarly showed love to my siblings and me. She took the daily routines, poured herself into them, and made them fun for our growing minds and hearts. This is a part of who I want to be. And a part of why I wrote a cookbook. I wanted to facilitate a way for you to spend time with your little ones. To get into the kitchen and get messy together. And then be able to share the fruits of your bonding time. And I am going to give away two copies!
I chose cookies as the basis for my book because they aren’t fussy. Anybody can make them, even with a toddler’s “help”. They are also easily shareable. One for me, some for you. Sharing the product of one’s baking efforts is truly enjoyable!
Each of the recipes in my cookbook, “A Taste of America: Fifty States, Fifty Cookies” reflects a state based on that state’s main agricultural product, a historical event from that state, unique geological features, etc.
“A Taste of America” is a collection of recipes designed to have something for everyone and stretch the boundaries of your go-to cookie baking repertoire. Whether you need a quick cookie (Pecan Pie Cookies) or have time for an intricate delicacy (Kuchen Cookies), whether you want a light tea cookie (Pineapple Citrus Cookies with Orange Glaze) or a decadent dessert (Kentucky Derby Cookies), whether you want a mostly nutritious cookie (Sweet Potato Cookies) or an ultra-rich treat (Buckeye Cookies), there is a recipe for you.
Motherhood can be difficult. Very difficult sometimes. Let us not forget that in the little things, like baking cookies, fantastic and lasting memories are made. We don’t have to go above and beyond in a Pinterest “pinable” manner that results in Instagram worthy photos. It can be messy. Imperfect. It can be mere chores. But, if we do them together, lasting memories can be made. Lovingly baked cookies, thoughtfully given, are nearly a love language in themselves.
To encourage you in your daily walk of motherhood, I’m giving away two copies of my cookbook on my Instagram account. It is my hope that as you bake and share the cookies from within its pages, you will feel just a bit of the love and care that went into each of the cookies baked for me by my Grandma and mom.
Stay strong, mommas. I see you. I know you are tired, but that you love your kiddos beyond words. Cut yourself a little slack and do something fun together. You’ve got this!
Lauren is a wife and mother with a lifelong passion for baking that was instilled in her by her mom and grandmothers. She was born and raised in St. Louis. She lives on a small farm with her family, their shelter pup, some honey bees and heritage hens. Dogwood Farm is a place where simple pleasures are the zest of daily life. You are invited to follow along life on her little Midwest farm via Facebook (@tasteofamericablog) and Instagram (@tasteofamericablog). Her cookbook, “A Taste of America: Fifty States, Fifty Cookies”, is available at tasteofamerica.etsy.com.