I am caught off guard by the joy I am able to find in the every day. The way a person peeking in the windows of our home [in the least creepy way possible] might not be able to see anything that matters so much, but I can feel the weight of the matter in my bones. The way doing the things that make me want to burst forth in worshipful song actually breeds a desire to serve others through it. The way choosing TV time for my girls so that I can cook a real meal makes me a better wife and mommy tonight and tomorrow and the next day – not because I cook, but because I find inexplicable joy in doing so – when I see it as a gift and not just another task to get done. I am fascinated by the mystery of it all, and am steady exploring this artful, joyful, worshipful lifestyle that looks everything and nothing like what I thought it should.
Like I keep saying, He is not different than I thought. He is more.
If you follow me on Facebook or Instagram, then you know that I have been using the heck out of the craigfamilycooking hashtag. It struck me when I baked these:
I love to bake. I love the look of the batter in the bowl. I love the smells of sugar and chocolate and cinnamon and a pinch of salt. I love the delight of licking the spoon when the pan is in the oven just before clean up begins. I love carefully following directions and pouring as much love in as I please. I love doing it with my girls by my side, begging for chocolate chip morsels and taking turns stirring. So as to keep it real, sometimes I want the boogers out of my hair so I can hog the pleasure of it all. Every once in a while I get to do that, but mostly I just choose to be okay with flour on the floor and batter all over their little hands and faces so that we can do it together.
I particularly cherish the legacy of love that’s been left to me through the kitchen. I want my children to know the same. One day I got the hankering to do a little baking, so I pulled out the Craig Family cookbook. The Craig’s are my Gra’ma’s side of the family, and they.can.cook. As it happens, so can my Mama. And my Gran. And my Daddy, for that matter. Cooking’s a big deal for us. Love all over the place in the kitchen. But back to the Craig’s…
When I was ten-ish, my Gra’ma compiled a cookbook full of the whole family’s recipes. There are recipes from the grandchildren, too – cute little renditions about S-getti and haphazardly typed letters that serve as a representation for those who could not represent themselves at the time. There are tidbits about the family history and about the recipes themselves. Y’all – it’s a treasure – and I am sad to say that I never realized it until now.
I struggle with our grocery bill. Struggle. I am a miserable coupon-er. I am trying to feed my family [mostly] “clean” foods – meaning as little processed as possible. This provides a big challenge. So, after another month of going WAY over in the grocery budget, I started thinking, “How on earth can I feed my family good, hearty meals without breaking the bank?” And it occurred to me – the Craigs grew up on a farm. A lot of kids. Not a lot of money. And most of them walked into adulthood living on a small-ish income. They are resourceful, and they have to have recipes that could help.
So, I went to work digging through the cookbook and found myself feeling a lot of the same things I did in D.C. Beauty rooted in history. And I am finding this beautiful sense of connection with my Gra’ma, who I don’t get to see nearly enough. It’s magical.
I planned our menu for the month of November. The effect on the budget is yet to be seen. I’ll let you know. But so far the cooking and the meals have been heavenly, reasonably simple, and have provided me with some pretty awesome freezer meals.
My goal is to share these recipes with you regularly because the only thing better than feeling love in the kitchen is multiplying it. I checked with my Gra’ma to make sure it would be okay to share them, and she said the Craigs would be honored. How I love her. I am not a chef, but I am beginning to see this simple part of our day as a beautiful act of worship and a tender time of together for our family. I hope that somehow it will help you facilitate the same in your own home – or at the very least give you some yummy grub now and again!
Aunt Marie’s Blonde Brownies [pictured above]
1 cup sifted flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/8 tsp. soda
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 cup chopped nut meats
1 cup brown sugar, firmly packed
1/3 cup butter or margarine
1 egg, slightly beaten
1 tsp. vanilla
1 (6 oz) pkg. semi-sweet chocolate chips
Sift flour, measure; add baking powder, soda, and salt; sift again. Add nuts and mix. Melt shortening in sauce pan; remove from heat. Mix in sugar, cool. Stir in egg, vanilla, and flour. Spread in greased 9x9x2-nch pan. Sprinkle with choclate chips. Bake in 340 degree oven for 20 to 25 minutes. Cool in pan, cut into 24 bars.
I cut the nuts because we don’t love them. You can also double it, says Aunt Marie, and bake it in a 9×13-inch pan. My Mama always baked these as a last minute treat to take to a friends house on Sunday nights. They taste like my childhood, and The Hunk thinks they taste like heaven. If you keep chocolate chips in your pantry, you will probably almost always have the ingredients on hand. According to my Gra’ma, her kids always “looked forward to gatherings at the ‘Craigs’ in hopes that Aunt Marie would bring this favorite.”