From Cookies to Life

What My Experiments with Baking Have Taught Me About Life

Or: I want to talk about cookies, so let me make it a metaphor.

I like cooking (and I like eating what I cook–most of the time), but like blogging, being in school (and often over-committing myself), it’s not something I get to do as often as I’d like–so when the opportunity to cook arises, I jump at it. Team potluck? Let me try my hand at salmon casserole, spicy chicken dip, or cranberry kugel. Need a dessert for a bake sale or snack at the meeting? Let me make a hundred oatmeal cream cookies (those were a hit! and they lasted for months, great snacks between classes!), gluten-free black bean brownies, or red velvet cake batter cookies. My mouth is watering at the memories!

So I’m going to a friend’s housewarming party tomorrow night (no spoilers, Katie, stop reading) and I decided I wanted to surprise her with some made-at-home cookies!

But sometimes baking doesn’t always go so well.

My great idea: Chocolate peppermint marshmallow cookies.

So I pour out the cake mix, add two eggs and one half cup oil (alas, we didn’t have apple sauce on hand for me to substitute–that’d still be just one half cup, if you’re taking down the recipe), and a splash of vanilla extract–then mix it all together into a batter. And then a handful (or two…or three) of peppermint miniature marshmallows. Preheat the oven (standard temp–350 degrees F), grease a baking sheet, make little balls (roll them in powdered sugar for added wintery effect–this was fun), and then bake for seven minutes.

The kitchen filled with warmth and rich aromas. I was certain they would come out perfectly–and then I opened the oven and took out a pan of bubbling cookies. Marshmallows apparently don’t bake so well: they liquify and ooze out, spilling onto the pan and quickly becoming burnt sugar.

Who knew?

So, not wanting the bottoms to burn, I tried to take them off…and being essentially sacks of melted marshmallow, they fall apart, crumble, or collapse into strange geometric shapes.

So that didn’t go so well either.

But I kept going (because I was determined now to get them right) and I finally learned that making them just a little smaller helped them cook better, and waiting a couple minutes to take them off the pan made them keep their shape beautifully and break apart less often.

What does any of this have to do with life, you ask? And I shall answer!

Do what you love! And share it.

I love cooking and I enjoy it when I cook often–but cooking by myself isn’t as much fun (or as fulfilling) as when I bring my niece into the kitchen to help, or cook dinner with my fiance, or I share what I create with my family and friends. Maybe you don’t love cooking, but whatever your passion is, go for it and share it! It’ll be worth all the time and effort you put into it, and following your heart can lead to new relationships and strengthen existing ones.

Keep trying. And then try some more.

Maybe you’ll never succeed, but if you love something and you keep going for it, you’ll continue to grow as a person even if you never reach the end you first imagined–instead, you might even come upon something better than expected! Maybe marshmallow cookies weren’t such a great idea, but I’ve still got a sweet treat to share with friends and I’ll know better when making something next time.

Have patience. Lots of patience.

The trick to getting my cookies to come out right was waiting for them to be ready to slide off the pan in one piece–trying to rush them wasn’t helping. Just the same, when we’re working with others or pursuing our passions, trying to go too fast can spell disaster. So you just wrote a book for NaNoWriMo–don’t jump at publishers, but take time to keep writing, editing, and revising your masterpiece. Maybe this one isn’t ready for publication, but if you still loved it, your time wasn’t wasted one bit. And this goes for anything, everything even. Just hold on until the timing is right, and don’t be afraid to wait.

So there you have it–now go make some cookies. It’s fun and tasty.

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