Crumbling Cookies

5 09 2010

I baked chocolate chip cookies today…from a bag. I had the urge to be semi-domesticated and the bag of mix had been sitting in my pantry for a few weeks so I mixed the butter and egg into the dry mix and plopped misshapen blobs on some old baking sheets. Soon, the satisfying aroma of chocolate chip cookies wafted through the house and I felt this warm cozy feeling of accomplishment when I set a dozen cookies on the wire rack to cool.

The feeling was reminiscent of when I was about six years old at my maternal grandmother’s house during another of my mother’s interminable hospital visits. She was teaching me how to bake sugar cookies and I can recall the creamy butter and sugar darkened by the vanilla extract and then thickened by the flour. I loved the terra cotta cookie stamp that we dipped in granulated sugar and then used to gently press down the rolled balls of sugar dough. I always strived to make the stamped images as centered and even as possible (due to my perfectionist urges) and I loved the feeling of squishing down the soft dough.

This lovely memory is tainted only by the bitter diatribe that Anne would spew forth during the cookie baking…seemingly without end. She would hold forth on the shortcomings of my father, my ailing mother, my private school, her neighbors, my brother and myself and even my grandfather (who had stopped sleeping in the same bedroom with her a decade or so before this point due to her venomous personality). I quickly learned how to tune in and out of her conversations because any defense of my own or of my family would be viewed as insubordination by this forceful woman. It still amazes me that the memory of cookie baking could be so simultaneously sour and sweet and can still negatively influence the act of baking 19 years later.

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