It was a dark and dreary 1930s morning outside Wichita. The earth was dry but Grandma’s eyes were not. The house was no longer hers. In a game of marbles, she had literally bet the farm. Leaving her husband behind, Grandma hopped in her truck. She had stolen it. That was so Grandma. It was all she had to her name, save for a single hen. Grandma had stolen that, too. During the long trek to California Grandma survived solely on her hen’s eggs. She ate scrambled eggs, over easy eggs, hard boiled eggs, soft boiled eggs. Eggs were very useful. However, now sick of eggs, she celebrated the first sight of the Pacific Ocean with grilled chicken.
One Stick Butter
Before my grandma had laid her stake in Kansas, she’d been a city slicker in a little place called Chicago, back in 1871. When she wasn’t shirking her skirts and splashing around in Lake Michigan bare naked, she was gambling away her inheritance from her late second husband. One night, during a heated game of chance in a dingy barn, granny kicked over a lantern after a particularly bad hand. When the barn burst into flames, Grandma, used to the nude, bucked her flammable clothes, grabbed all the money in the pot, hopped on a cow and rode into that smoky night. She laid low in hiding with the heifer after that, where she quickly learned that not only could a cow provide life-giving milk, but if you sloshed that milk around enough, you could spread that creamy byproduct called Butter on just about anything to make it taste better- especially the cow.
Ever the romantic, Grandma went searching for love in Paris in 1788. During a high-stakes croquet game, Grandma bet a handsome viscount that if she won, he had to take her on a very expensive date. My grandma cheated to win, and was thus invited to a Royal ball. As she nursed her tenth glass of champagne at the occasion, (Grandma was always the life of the party!) a man tapped her on the shoulder. That man was Thomas Jefferson, U.S. Ambassador to France. My grandma ditched her French date and danced with the American until, fearing my Grandmother might vomit from the excessive champagne, Jefferson presented her with a scoop of Vanilla Bean ice cream. Grandma had never tasted something so delicate and sweet before. Just a small amount of vanilla made all the difference, she noted. It was so delicious grandma moved on to her third man of the night: the chef!
Teaspoon Sea Salt
After a major falling out with her social circle in the early 17th century English countryside, my exceptionally polarizing Grandma decided to leave for a new life abroad. But she couldn’t shake her affection for The Earl, Betrothed To Another. Each night aboard the Mayflower she would lean far over the edge of the ship, screaming into the wind until her lungs burned more acutely than her heart. Her tears mixed with the ocean spray, and flooded her senses with salt. From then on, boats reminded grandma of the Earl, which thankfully kept her off the Titanic, the Lusitania, and Shackleton’s Endurance. With a new man to dim the memory of the Earl, however, Grandma did unfortunately wind up on the Ever Given container ship.
One Cup Chocolate Chips
This was not the first time grandma shed tears over a man. In 1519 she was in a long distance relationship with Hernán Cortés, not the first (or last!) conquistador who was smitten with my Grandma. He spent twenty years in Mexico, which was a bit taxing on their relationship. He returned to Spain carrying with him new foods, new spices, and a new girlfriend. Livid, Grandma looted Cortés’ cargo, grabbing everything she could. Among these items was a small tin of cacao powder. Cortés attempted to win her back, but that ship had sailed. Grandma and her new lover were already expecting my mom.
One Cup Sugar
In 356 BC, my Grandma, ever the socialite, found herself in the company of Alexander The Great – or as she called him, Alexander The Good Enough – and learned of this incredible new substance he had encountered during one of his campaigns: sugar. According to my Grandma, he told her it was the sweetest thing he’d ever found, to which she responded, “that’s because you hadn’t met me yet.” My Grandma’s newfound love of sugar outlasted her love for Alexander. He loved my Grandma until he died a slow and painful death at the ripe age of 32.
Two Cups Flour
Around 6000 BC Grandma was traveling with her tribe and then husband throughout the Fertile Crescent. They came upon another tribe and after several men fought to the death, the tribes decided to merge. Grandma suddenly had a new group of girlfriends who taught her about a grain called wheat. In between talking gossip about the other wives, the women would grind this wheat into something called flour. Even though she found some of the women (especially Susan) fully insufferable, she kept this knowledge of flour in her back pocket. Grandma unfortunately was later run out of the commune for betting all of their resources away on camel races.
Bake at 375℉
And in the beginning, there was Grandma. Grandma was there when all matter at a single infinitely dense and hot point exploded and the universe was created. So as Grandma erupted into existence, while planets and stars and matter beyond our wildest comprehension burst into creation amid an ever-expanding void, she knew that a precise combination of heat and density of dough could transform raw ingredients into a tray of warm, delicious chocolate chip cookies. Cheers to 13.8 billion years of baking excellence! Grandma went out with a (big) bang last June.
This an abridged version, for the full version you can preorder my 900 page cookbook, featuring 5 recipes – link here!
Madeline is a writer based in New York with her collie, Oskar.