This is going to be a little more of a serious post today. I was going to put something up about Halloween and how adorable Melody was, but that of course is a given and I will just post the pictures later. For the past week or so, I have been gearing up for a project that is a little bit bigger than Halloween. At first, I didn’t really think much of it.
I learned about http://www.bakinggals.com from my friend Kelly. Kelly is the queen of cakes in my book. She makes beautiful and artistic creations from cake, fondant and royal icing. I myself buy cakes. Usually from the grocery store. Any cake I make is guaranteed to be a bit lopsided and frosted by Betty Crocker. That’s okay. I’m much better at cookies.
When I was young, my mom made cookies quite frequently. All kinds of treats: chocolate chip, brownies, oatmeal, peanut butter, molasses, etc. I knew that when I saw sugar and butter sitting in a bowl at night before bed, that in the morning she would bake. She set the butter out over night to soften, you see. I know we had the big can of Crisco in the pantry too at times, and if you have read older cookie recipes, many of them start with “1 c shortening.” So, baking cookies is something I know how to do well. It’s another of those things I learned from my mom.
Baking Gals is an organization set up to send a box of treats to a deployed soldier somewhere in the world. Like I said, at first I didn’t really think much about this. I can bake a mean batch of cookies, so I thought “what the heck, this sounds like fun!” As I planned out what to make for our soldier, Lt H, I often found myself thinking of enjoyable afternoons with my mom and sister, whether we were making Christmas cookies or just baking for the fun of it. My house smelled great and my oven still has a bit of the clove & cinnamon smells from the Molasses Crinkles I made. I am fully stocked with Crisco (now in convenient 1 cup bars, btw), chocolate chips, spices, oatmeal, flour, brown and white sugar for future baking escapades. These are the staples of baking cookies, and in a way, they are the staples of the past. Box cookies are fine, sure, but there is something special and altruistic about scratch cookies. It takes time and attention to measure out the ingredients. The fragrances that waft through the house linger for days. The gratification of a cold glass of milk and a home made cookie is unsurpassable, in my opinion. In a word, scratch cookies take love…love of baking, love for family, love of sharing.
As I was trying to think of what to write in a note to Lt H to go with the cookies, I remembered that caring for soldiers is a tradition in our family. Back during World War 1, Thomas Marvel – a relative of my father’s – opened his home out to soldiers, in a way that evolved into the USO known during World War 2. He was presented with a glorious flag that Granny used to fly off the porch rail on holidays. It went to my grandmother, Grammie, and she eventually gave it to my father. This flag is displayed in Papa’s home and we are all proud of the tradition it stands for. If our family was not supporting the men in military, they were in the service. My Grandfather George was in World War 1. My Grandfather in Law Henry was too. My great-Uncle Bob was at the Battle of the Bulge during World War 2. My dad was in the Army and my Uncle Pete was too. My Father in Law Ray was in the Air Force. My cousin George was in the Navy. There are many more, through many generations, who went to war, or served in peace.
Currently, America has thousands of soldiers, airmen, sailors and marines stationed all around the world. These men and women don’t exist in a vacuum. They leave at home parents, wives, husbands, siblings, and children. I have seen the sacrifices my friends are making to support their husbands who are deployed (and let me tell you, the military doesn’t really do much for the families of the deployed), and I am honored to be able to send a few dozen cookies to a soldier. No matter where our soldiers are, they are Americans, and I will gladly carry on the family tradition of caring for the soldiers who are there for us.