The Kitchen: Secret Recipes

I have heard about those families with secret cookie recipes. They are past down from generation to generation by word of mouth. They are written on the side margins of recipe books in a secret family code. They are shared only with future generations in hushed tones in the kitchen.  The cookies might be shared with family and friends but the recipes are sacred.

I did not grow up in one of those houses. Our cookie recipes came from the Tollhouse bag.

When our children were small I decided to give them lifetime cookie memories.

At holidays my children and I baked and baked. We rolled out dough and pressed stars and hearts and shamrocks and letters into the dough. We painted warm cookies with colored icing that dripped all over the table and our hands. We added too many chocolate chips to the dough and picked out the extra morsels and ate them.  We took pictures of our cookies and blue tongues.

After the children got older I moved on to the kinds of cookies that had fillings instead of frosting, nuts instead of chocolate chips, and not as much sugar but more spices.  I experimented with balls instead of shapes and made my own notes on the margins in my own recipes.  One year I snagged a family recipe from a friend of a friend but over time I changed it so much to suite our own needs and tastes it is something very different now than what it started out to be.  If my kids like it I keep it.

I don’t care so much about the recipes anymore as I care about making the ones my kids want each year. They carry the stories in their hearts now and the magic is in the retelling. Their memories, their joy, and their delight still dictate my prowess in the kitchen and that is exactly how I want it.

Lydia Patrick

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