Grandma’s kitchen always smelled of fresh baked cookies. To get to my grandma’s house, we drove 300 miles up a steep hill and down dirt roads more like two tracks to a tiny little house in the woods. When you pulled in the drive you knew what was waiting for you inside. I remember vividly leaping from the car running to the porch, and knocking briefly to be greeted by Grandma and Shar, her German shepherd. Her sing song voice would say “I missed you! I love you! Look at how you’ve grown!” While she was hugging my parents I’d sneak over to the counter, where she’d have perfect sheets of newspaper lined with fresh baked chocolate chip cookies cooling. I once asked why she cooled her cookies on newspaper she answered “Oh I don’t know dear, that’s just what I do”. When I got a little older, my dad shared with me a secret. Grandma left him a little cookie dough in a glass bowl covered in plastic wrap hidden in the back of the fridge. When no one was paying attention (or when he felt brazen) he would grab a spoonful. That was the real deal, chocolate chip cookie dough. It was Grandma’s way to make dad feel special, and then in turn, his way to make me feel special by sneaking me away to share.It wouldn’t take long and her kitchen would be filled with family, cookies, coffee and tea. They would all visit until dark; I would hide under the table with Shar, the dog. Her home smelled of chocolate, coffee, tea and rich with love. The whole house roared with laughter and grew silent with goodbye hugs. Her table always had enough room for everyone, whether it was just the two of us or chairs three deep. Our favorite activity was to reach behind the table to the buffet and grab and handful of pictures out of the drawer. We’d pass them around and tell stories about them. When we had enough time, Grandma would set up the projector and look at slides projected on her white refrigerator.
More cookies would be made if we were particularly hungry from that bowl of cookie dough stashed in the refrigerator. More coffee and of course more stories and laughter. My entire childhood is filled with memories of passing pictures and telling stories and eating chocolate chip cookies. Oh she baked plenty of other things, but the chocolate chip cookies were magic. They were tender yet gooey, sweet with a hint of something that no one could put their finger on. Filled with grandma magic no one has ever been able to duplicate. You must know that I have been working for years to duplicate her cookies even down to cooling them on newspaper. I’m close but they don’t have Grandma Cassie magic.There is something magic about someone special making food just for you. It hits you deep down in your soul. I knew my grandma loved me by the many ways she showed me. However, this is the way it stuck, through food. I think it has something to do with the sound of the beaters hitting the glass bowl and the smell of the flour and the sugar mixed with bible songs in the air that makes me want to bake and cook for my family to show love. This weekend I worked on Grandma’s cookie recipe again for the memorial services of my Grandma’s brother in law, my Uncle Les. They still never turn out anything like hers. How lucky for Uncle Les, he’s probably having the real thing with Grandma right now.