I came to the realization today that part of the reason I love cooking and baking so much is that food inevitably connects me to people. Another big part is that I love eating good food, which of course is motivation to make it. But almost every time I make dinner or bake some cookies, I end up thinking about family or friends. Even though I’m way down here in Virginia and most of them are way up there in the Midwest, cooking brings us together.
It’s not just family and old friends cooking connects me with, though. It’s the new friends, too. People who only live ten or twenty minutes away and who I get to see in church almost every Sunday. Or the people I don’t really even know yet, but who we have the chance to invite over for a meal, or take a meal to, if they just had a baby. There’s been a lot of that going on here lately! Or my coworkers – we can bond over discussions about food and Mom’s famous whoopie cookies (which they all thoroughly enjoyed when I made them for Christmas gifts).
Today I made chicken fajitas for dinner. They didn’t taste like Mom’s chicken fajitas, but they reminded me of hers and of how I used to ask for them for my birthday meal. And of how when I was little (7 or 8, I think), I put away five tacos. Good memories.
Then I made triple chocolate brownies for tomorrow. If you like chocolate, these are seriously chocolate. I don’t know where we found the recipe, but find it we did, and it became my responsibility to make them at home. Then I started taking them to different get-togethers, and they became semi-famous in our small corner of West Michigan. I tried different kinds of pudding like cheesecake and french vanilla to see if they could become even more yummy. One year we made jar mixes for Christmas gifts, but every jar looked different as we used a variety of cake mixes, pudding mixes, and chocolate chips. Then the senior class started using the recipe for school lunches, but they had to figure out how to take the quantities from normal-sized boxes of cake and pudding mix and transfer them to industrial-sized boxes.
I also made garlic bread today. I make the dough in the bread machine and then bake it in the oven, and the whole house smells like garlic for a couple hours.I don’t know where my mom found this recipe, but it’s super easy and super good. I made it at home before I got married, and then Mom gave me the recipe when I moved out. My aunt gave me her bread machine since she never used it, and voila! I can make garlic bread any time. I don’t, but I should, because it’s good with anything. It goes with spaghetti or chili, it makes an amazing grilled cheese, it’s good fresh out of the oven or a few days later as part of a lunchmeat sandwich. And you can make it in a log, so it looks like Italian bread, or you can make a big round loaf that cuts up into nice-sized slices for sandwiches. No matter what, it’s good. Just don’t make your PB&J on it.
Here’s the recipe for triple chocolate brownies, just in case your mouth was watering on that paragraph back there. If you’re looking to build connections to people through your cooking, these will do the trick! 🙂
Triple Chocolate Brownies
- 1 chocolate or devil’s food cake mix
- 1 box instant chocolate pudding mix
- 2 cups milk
- 2 cups chocolate chips
Preheat oven to 350 and grease 9×13 pan. Mix cake mix and pudding mix together in large bowl, then stir in milk. When well-mixed, add in chocolate chips. Spread evenly in pan. Bake for 30-40 minutes, or until brownies start to pull away from the side of the pan and knife comes out mostly clean. Brownies will be moist.