Tastes like Home (sub-set: Tastes Like Christmas)


[Christmas in Palm Springs; 2013]

Yesterday my son-in-law dropped off some cardamon bread he’d made over the weekend; it tasted like home, a “home” I never actually had or known! But some flavors, some smells, some vibes are like that, aren’t they? In some mysterious, deep, wordless way, they just feel right! They somehow remind us of something always there, present, and abiding. Like the first time I experienced a Quaker meeting: I knew I’d come home.

There are ways we can manufacture that deliciousness; we can create traditions that somehow incorporate key elements of that Just Feels Right sense. Like the gingerbread cookies I’ve been making at Christmas for close to 50 years. My four daughters and their children have grown up with these cookies. The smell of them baking in the oven (or putting a couple out on Christmas Eve for Santa) equals home.

I’m willing to bet that no one in my family, living in a time when most people consider soft and chewy more desirable than crunchy/best when dipped into milk or hot chocolate, really loves these cookies. (My “Moist Dark Gingerbread” gets way more raves.) But once upon a time they certainly enjoyed making them. Getting flour all over themselves and the kitchen floor. Using their favorite cookie cutters. ( The moose? Or pig? How ’bout the traditional Christmas chicken?) Inviting friends over to help. Decorating them, too. (For years I insisted on only natural ingredients—raisins, nuts, cranberries, etc.—but have lately gone over to The Dark Side and now use red and green sprinkles.) And since the dough is the consistency of clay, they especially loved, when they were teenagers, creating risqué objets d’art. (You can imagine!)

Yesterday I posted a picture on Facebook of my granddaughter rolling out that sturdy, pliable dough and received several requests for the recipe. But I’m actually reluctant to pass it along for 2 reasons: It’s not soft and chewy. Your family and friends might be disappointed. And it requires—wait for it—8 or 9 cups of flour! (This year, way too busy, I halved the recipe. And still have plenty) My recipe requires hours of baking! Who has time?

Here’s my advice: Do what I did half a century ago. Find a recipe that speaks to you. And feels like home. Better yet, do what I did two minutes ago: google Best Gingerbread Cookies Ever.

Here’s one that sounds really good. And guess what! It’s soft and chewy!



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1 Comment

  1. Dear Patricia,

    Hi, there, Patricia, my so, so very dearly special and so, so very dearly precious friend and sister who you are For Always so, so very much!!!!!!! I pray, wish, and hope very especially for you and yours, Patricia, a Very Happy, Special, Merry and Blessed Christmas and a Very Happy New Year, sister!!!!!!! Your very special Christmas card to very especially you, Patricia, from me straight from me and my very heart as your sisterfriend I hope has arrived to you and yours by now!(SMILE!!!!!!!) Sister, you are just such a so very dear and blessed joy and blessing to me, Patricia!!!!!!! Wow, I am so enjoying the absolutely beautiful Christmas card which you sent to me and the so very dear and precious words which you wrote to me, my so very dearest friend!!!!!!! Thank-you so!!!!!!! Yay!!!!!!!!!

    I learned something new here, Patricia! I’d not heard of cardamon bread! This sounds so yummy, Patricia!!!!!!!! I know what you mean by how some flavors, some smells, and some vibes bring me home as well, sister!!!!!!! I think this is a very real sensory memory for people, sisterfriend!!!!!! It DOES feel right!!!!!! I have had some Christmas cookies in which the taste and texture bring back such comfy memories of me eating them during Christmas when I was a little girl-I can even envision myself in my memory as a little girl eating these cookies and so very thoroughly enjoying them with such joy and sheer delight, my friend!!!!!!! I so very thoroughly enjoyed as well reading so happily how vividly you described your cookies, Patricia!!!!!!! I LOVE Christmas cookies in general, my friendsister!!!!!!! Wow, Patricia, your cookies sound ABSOLUTELY YUMMY, DELICIOUS, and DELECTABLE, sister!!!!!!! My very eyes grew wide and my mouth watered as I read with such sheer delight your very vibrantly and colorfully vivid description of your so, so very tasty cookies, my so very dear friend!!!!!!! Wow, I just know that your cookies are just the very greatest and the very best, Patricia!!!!!! Patricia, I remember so very well my very favorite neighbors to the left of my house where I am originally from and where I grew up in Cleveland Heights, Ohio made some really fantastic Christmas cookies!!!!!! When I was next door for a visit and she would give me a plate of cookies to take home for me and my family, I was so very naughty(SMILE!!!!!!) in how I would dig into her cookies first before my family could have any, and I’d eat the big and yummy Santa Claus cookie and some of the other tasty cookies and then not leave a whole lot for my family(SMILE!!!!!!!).

    Sister, thank-you for the great links which you so, so very graciously and generously provided, Patricia, and the great idea about googling Best Gingerbread Cookies Ever!!!!!!!! I must be sure to do this, sister!!!!!!!!! Sisterfriend, wow I’m so hungry for some great Christmas cookies, and you have me so much energized to google for this recipe and to get to working on some so very cool Christmas cookies, Patricia!!!!!!! Thank-you, sisterfriend!!!!!!!

    Patricia, what a so very uplifting, inspiring, and such a joyful blessing this so very cool blog post article is of yours which has truly enhanced my very Christmas spirit, my friend!!!!!!! You, sister, and your very blessedly enlightening blog post articles, and other writings are just the very best and the greatest, and just blessed me so very joyously, sister!!!!!!! You mean so, so very much to me, Patricia, and I just so, so very much cherish you, my so very dearest friend!!!!!!! Please have a wondrously wonderful Wednesday, rest of your week, and weekend, and may you and yours, Patricia, have A Very Happy, Special, Merry, and Blessed Christmas and A Very Happy New Year, my so very special friendsister who you are For Always so, so very much!!!!!!!! Have MUCH, MUCH, MUCH FUN, FUN, FUN and MORE FUN, and CELEBRATE OUR SWEET JESUS and this observation of our Jesus’ birth, sister!!!!!!!!

    Very Warmly and Sincerely For Always, my so very dearest sisterfriend white Christian woman, Patricia, with Peace and Love To You For Always, my sister, and Blessings and Even More Blessings To You For Always, my friend,

    Your sisterfriend Christian lesbian black woman in the spirit and solidarity For Always, Sherry Gordon

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