Thursday, January 27, 2011

Hospitality-Making

One of my great loves in life is cooking and more specifically, baking. You might call it a hobby but that makes it sound too superfluous. I have more of a need to be baking, well, daily. The endless stream of cooking blogs out only adds kindle to my burning baking need.

As a result of constant heating up my oven, I've gotten pretty good at following a recipe and know what cookies, cake, dough, and other delectable mixed batches of goodness look like--just prior and just after baking. My turn-out rate is pretty high. I can even just look at a recipe and tell if it will be good or not. Yet, sometimes I wonder if it's all worth it in the end.

The HUGE mess it makes.

The clock ticking, time stealing it takes.

The twenty minutes or less in which a meal that took hours to make, is ravenously or thoughtlessly consumed.

The pride that swells in my heart when the compliments are profuse. (ouch!)

In conversations with friends who ask probing questions like, "what do you feel your gifts are?" I would always lament that, well, (pregnant pause) I can cook well. That's really, all I consistently do well. For the overachiever-heart in me, it left me feeling depressed. Food is such a fleeting thing. It's taste, time in our body, and even the cooking process is not particularly meaningful. Anyone feel me? (I know all the Mommas out there do!!!)

However, I have been reprimanded by a few for this attitude. As a result, I have a new philosophy on the merits of cooking well. I believe it's a means of showing hospitality, of making your home a warm and inviting environment. It's not the only thing, but it provides an excuse to have company over, to focus on intentional relationship building as you pause to eat together over a meal. Lingering is more likely if the food is tasty and well prepared. People like to come back to your home when the food served is yum-O. And, that my friends, is valuable. Therefore, go and bake something, maybe these cookies, and show some hospitality to a stranger, dear friend or new relationship. Bake or cook as a means to making life with the people that inhabit your same space.

And, now to share a delightful, hospitality-making recipe, keep reading below!

These cake like cookies exude warmth and homemade goodness. It's the perfect after school snack or at my house this week, it was the perfect treat for company, served with glasses of cold, creamy whole milk. Best eaten immediately.

Chocolate Chip Walnut Banana Cookies
  • 1/2 cup of unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1 cup of sugar
  • 1 egg, room temperature
  • 1 cup of mashed bananas (about 2 large bananas)
  • 1 teaspoon of baking soda
  • 1 1/2 cups of whole wheat flour
  • 1/2 cup unbleached white flour
  • pinch of salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon of ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon of ground mace or nutmeg
  • 1/2 teaspoon of ground cloves
  • 1 cup of walnuts and chocolate chips

Method

Preheat the oven to 350°F.
In a bowl, mix the mashed bananas and baking soda. Let sit for 2 minutes. The baking soda will react with the acid in the bananas which in turn will give the cookies their lift and rise.

Meanwhile, cream the butter and sugar together until light and fluffy. Add the egg and continue to beat until the mixture is light and fluffy.

Mix the banana mixture into the butter mixture. Mix together the flour, salt, and spices and sift into the butter and banana mixture and mix until just combined.

Fold into the batter the walnuts and chocolate chips if using. Drop in dollops onto parchment paper-lined baking sheet or baking stone. Bake for 11-13 minutes or until nicely golden brown. Let cool on wire racks.

Makes about 30 cookies.

(This recipe was adapted from Simply Recipes.) 
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1 comment:

Kelli said...

A wonderful recipe! And great perspective on hospitality. All talents have worth, and cooking ranks high on its ability to foster relationships and impart a restful atmosphere. Keep on baking!!