Monday, 25 February 2013

2007 - Postscript to a Painful 2006

My sister Lisa, co-founder and co-creator of Our Cookie Journal, loved Christmas and family.

I couldn't write anymore last year after Lisa died— too bleary-eyed and heart-broken. I don't even think I baked anything else after Charlie and I got back to England. I was shattered with grief and we both had jet-lag. Christmas was less than a week away and we were scheduled to move into our new house in January. It was a relief that there was so much going on; I didn't have as much time to dwell on my loss.

I'll miss my sister in every way, every day. Since it was close to Christmas and I'd had Our Cookie Journal out, I took it with me to the funeral, with loads of photos. It was nice to have a legacy to remember her and something she loved doing — baking cookies with and for her family. 

Mom said that Lisa, Mike and April made Festive Fudge the weekend before she died. I'm glad I made it too — and that I got to tell her about it. We talked about how good it was and how it reminded us of the fudge we'd buy by the pound at the Kentucky State Fair.

I've already written that she baked Pumpkin Bread in some giant loaf tins that Mike bought for her. And she made April's birthday cake earlier in the week — chocolate frosting on a yellow cake for her youngest of four daughters, a 10-year-old.

She also showcased a new entry in her repertoire: Crunchy Peanut Butter Balls. There's a Rice Krispy version that uses powdered sugar but she used a recipe featured in Taste of Home magazine. More a candy than a cookie, these rich concoctions were the last treats she made. She declared them a success worth repeating and had three fresh off the tray — as did April and Rachel. They were still in the fridge at her house on the day of her funeral, and the girls offered one to me. I took a chocolate-y sphere from the tray, took one bit and, although it was yummy, I just couldn't swallow it. It was too sad and I was too choked up. April said they wound up throwing the rest of them out because they depressed everyone. Bless her. 

Mom had planned to make White Chocolate Cherry Crunchies but said she couldn't remember where she saw the recipe. It was Lisa who had remembered that it was Paula Deen's recipe. That girl's memory was impeccable! I will miss that so much — she knew all the dates and names and details of all our lives. Mom had a batch of Coconut Cream-Filled Macaroons in the fridge that she couldn't ever bring herself to finish after Lisa died. She threw it all out. "I wanted to knock it all on the floor," she said. 

Rachel and April wound up making some slice and bake cookies — snowmen, trees and stars. Danielle and Michelle said they just couldn't because it would be too depressing. April said making cookies, like her mom did, made her happy. We all handle it differently.

Michael honored Lisa with a baking frenzy that included Chocolate Chip Cookies, Whoopie Pies (regular and peanut butter), Peanut Butter Cookies, Peanut Butter Fudge and Donya's Coconut Crunch Delight. Lisa definitely would have given him a cookie stamp of approval on such a peanut-buttery array. I'm sure his baking session was cathartic as well.

I will miss her brief but brilliant entries in Our Cookie Journal. As well as collecting and trading recipes with each other. And passing the diary back and forth each year to review Christmases (and kitchens) past and talk about the current year's hits and misses. I'll miss her memory, her sense of humor and her love and comfort. I'll miss her help in the kitchen, even when we weren't baking side-by-side. I'll miss the promise of another session with her. But I'll never forget the fun we shared, the memories we made and the dozens of cookies we ate together. I'll measure every new recipe by her standards and her memory will mingle with the aromas in my kitchen every time I bake cookies. I love you, Dahling! Merry Christmas, always! 

Crunchy Peanut Butter Balls

1 c peanut butter
1 jar (7 oz) marshmallow creme
1 1/2 c crisp rice cereal
1 1/2 c (9 oz) semisweet chocolate chips
4 tsp vegetable shortening

In a large bowl, combine the peanut butter and marshmallow creme; add cereal and stir until well coated.

In a small microwave-safe bowl, combine chocolate chips and shortening. Microwave, uncovered, for 1-2 minutes, or until chips are melted; stir until smooth.

Roll cereal mixture into 1-inch balls; dip in chocolate. Place on a waxed paper-lined baking sheet. Refrigerate until set.

Yield: 2 1/2 dozen.

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