Taken May 2009 by KH


Rinascimento is Italian for renaissance and literally means to be reborn. In a historical context it refers to the revival of art, music, culture and learning in Europe from the 14th through the 17th centuries.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Past, Present and the Future on a 3 X 5 Card

Since I was a young child I have been making this recipe for Fudge Cookies (a.k.a. No Bakes). The 3 X 5 card on which it is written is old, discolored, dog-eared and stained--a sure sign of a well-loved recipe. The writing on it is feminine, somewhat jerky, but it does not belong to Harriet Susan Harding Folk, my Grandmother.  The name written on it is Mary McCarty. I don't remember my Grandmother talking about her, but I can only assume she was a friend.  My Grandmother did say she'd been making that recipe for many many years before I can along, in gasp! 1972.

So why is an old hand-written recipe that's probably from the 1950s important? And how is it even relevant given this fast-paced life we lead where we're perpetually attached to our iPhones, blackberry's and Facebook?  Because for me, those recipes and my time baking with my Grandmother represented so many important things, including feeling connected and a sense of accomplishment.  Old, well-loved recipes like these represent my past, my family's past as well as a connection to the present and the future. Hopefully I'll be able to pass down some of these recipes to my son and eventually his children.

Even beyond those, baking with my grandmother gave us time to talk about school, life, or just whatever. Nearly every day we had a good 30 minutes to talk while we were making dinner together, or baking something sweet and yummy. In addition, baking at her side improved my fractions, honed my reading skills and taught me basic kitchen safety. She got to tell me a bit about her childhood and what it was like to grow up in the 20s and 30s. It seemed quite insignificant at the time, but looking back, I truly do cherish those memories.

So since my son was little we have cooked and baked together. He has been standing on a stool and running my KitchenAid mixer at least since he was 3 and he's only covered my kitchen once in batter. We get to talk, joke, and connect.  Sometimes we talk about school, sometimes we talk about family and sometimes he just makes up recipes in his head that he wants us to try, nearly all of them including chocolate. What he doesn't realize is that like me, he's learning fractions, improved his fine motor skills and improved his reading. He just thinks we're having fun!

Looking forward, I know I am making memories with him that I'll always cherish and hopefully he'll cherish them as well. 

Fudge Cookies (a.k.a. No Bakes) courtesy of Mary McCarty
2 cups sugar
1/3 cocoa powder
1/4 cup shortening (i.e., Crisco)
1/2 cup milk
Put everyone listed above into a sauce pan and bring to a boil. Boil for 1 minute and then remove from heat.
Add 1 cup peanut butter and 1 teaspoon of vanilla. Stir so that the peanut butter melts. Then stir in 3 cups of oatmeal.  Drop by rounded teaspoonfuls onto waxed or parchment paper. Work quickly as the cookies will begin to set as they cool.

So whether you're a baker, a musician, a writer, a hunter, a teacher or whatever, take the time to connect with someone today.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Unconditional Love

This morning, my little boy James came and got into bed with me for a rare morning snuggle. Normally we're up and getting ready for school but today the teachers had an in-service day and he had the day off. It was delightful to get to snuggle with his warm little body and talk to him.  The older he gets the less he wants to snuggle. The most snuggling I seem to get is on the rare occasions that he sleeps with me. I must say though, despite his doing the Macarena in his sleep, and his teeth grinding that there's nothing better than falling asleep with his little hand holding mine.

Anyway, while we were lying there we got to talking about the difference between like and love. 
Whenever the topic of love comes up I stress to him that I love him unconditionally.  As I child I never felt that kind of love from my maternal grandmother, who for all intents and purposes, raised me. Love always felt like it was attached to my being "good," cleaning up after myself, doing as I was told, etc. I felt that if I displeased my grandmother that she'd withhold her love.  And don't get me wrong, I'm not speaking ill of her as I'm sure this was the way she was raised, but I swore that when I had children I would try to do things a little differently.  My paternal grandmother always stressed her unconditional love but I didn't see her often enough for it to sink in. So ever since I had James I've purposely stressed that I love him unconditionally.

So this morning, once again I told James that no matter what he does that I'll always love him. I may not like something he's done, or a choice that he's making but that I'll always love him. I told him that there's nothing he could do that would make me stop loving him. I told him that you can love someone and not like them at the same time. He seemed to mull it over for a few minutes and then he turned to me with a puzzled expression and said:

"So Mom, you don't like it when I run down the stairs, but you still love me right?"  I told him that he was exactly right. I love him despite not liking what he was doing, i.e., running down the stairs. I keep telling him he's going to slip and do a header into one of my flowered chairs.  He smiled, gave me a kiss on the cheek and scampered off to get dressed for the day.

Does he get it? I'm not sure, but either way, I'm going to keep telling him. I feel strongly about this so I'll keep telling him.  Someday, when he has children I'll love them unconditionally too.

Have you told your child that you love them unconditionally?