Writing and Eating

Friendship and Recipes

Sharing Stories
December 17, 2023 at 4:49 p.m.

...by April Ryan



     Some surprises in life twist the hands of time into a warm hug. Once a month, I meet with a group of eight women who met after retirement while taking a memoir writing class, nearly fourteen years ago. We choose a prompt, a home to meet in, and a couple of people to bring salad and dessert.

     This month’s prompt was childhood recipes. We had a festive and joyful day. The holiday decorations made me feel like a kid again. Now I'm inspired to put out cookies for Santa on Christmas Eve. I do love a midnight snack.

     A delicious lunch topped off stories about cooking and recipes for all seasons, making the day a wonderful buffet of memories and flavors. The conversation led to Jell-O salads with fruit cocktail, shredded carrots, cottage cheese, full of this or that, and sharing fun of long-ago jiggly taste experiences. (Now you can even use Jell-O for temporary colorful hair streaks.)

What a treat it was to bring home a bag full of spectacular homemade goodies to enjoy, everything yum, yum, yummy. The recipes handed out are all great reading and dreamy temptations. It was a truly fabulous day in this marvelous adventure we are having together.

     I never was much of a baker, so I went to the grocery store to buy eight bags of chocolate chips to pass around with the Toll House chocolate chip cookie recipe on them. The cashier asked if I was going to make fudge, I let her know I was going to have lunch with eight women who were sharing recipes for the holidays. I was startled when she raised up one of the bags and announced to the other cashiers, “This woman is giving her friends a bag of chocolate chips because they are sharing recipes.” 

     My best guess is they too were going to have a recipe sharing party, and for one quick moment I felt like a genius. The following is the story I shared on our festive and tasty recipe contribution day.


     I think it was the fall of 1954, and I might have been eight years-old, ready for an eventful day learning to bake chocolate chip cookies with Mom. She gave me one of her aprons to wear, ruffled around the edges, with pockets for cooking supplies, and with a secret apron pocket where I stuffed Kleenex, proof my best friend Diana called me “snot-locker” for good reason.

     I was puffed up and ready to become Betty Crocker while Mom and I put what we needed on the counter: baking sheets, mixing bowls, measuring cups, teaspoons, tablespoons, and the powerful handheld mixer. Mom lined up all the ingredients needed for tasty chocolate chip cookies.

     She read the ingredients, telling me what to do. First, I needed to measure two and a half cups of flour. I wanted to be perfect and precise, slowly pouring flour into the cup. Mom always moved at the speed of a tornado, so then she took over measuring ingredients, and I assisted by handing her the tools. I was having some trouble giving her the right spoons, so finally she told me, “A tablespoon is big as a table, and a teaspoon is small as a teacup.”

     About halfway through our afternoon of cookie baking, she decided to demonstrate how she measured ingredients by hand, explaining when I got older, with bigger hands, that she’d teach me the tricks of measuring items in my hand. (Result: Me being an expert at measuring a pinch of salt.) I stood back, watching her toss this and that into the bowl, and beating the mixture like Mr. Wizard on his science tv show. 

     With a trusty tablespoon, I dropped the cookie dough onto the baking sheet, thinking to myself, “A tablespoon is big as a table, and a teaspoon is small as a teacup,” over and over with every doughy rounded tablespoonful, until the cookie sheet was put into the oven. How could there be anything better than having fresh baked chocolate chip cookies, and a cold glass of milk with Mom?

     Through the years, many times I have told myself, “A tablespoon is big as a table, and a teaspoon is small as a teacup.” Sometimes, just looking at a tablespoon, I can smell the aroma of fresh baked chocolate chip cookies. Thanks for the memories, Mom.

April Ryan is a retired Seattle bus driver and prolific writer, often published in Northwest Prime Time, among other places.

SHARING STORIES is a weekly column for and about the 50 plus crowd living in the Puget Sound region. Send your stories and photos to ariele@comcast.net. Tell local or personal stories; discuss concerns around aging and other issues; share solutions, good luck, and reasons to celebrate; poems are fine too. Pieces may be edited or excerpted. We reserve the right to select among pieces. Photos are always a plus and a one-sentence bio is requested (where you live, maybe age or career, retired status, etc.).
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