Wednesday, July 30, 2014

A Story and a Recipe...

I learned to read in the fall of my Kindergarten year.
I baked my way through my first recipe immediately thereafter.

Fortunately, the words weren’t difficult to read- “Sugar”, “Flour”, “Cocoa” - and my mother was a diligent teacher, leaning slightly over the counter, watching me as I matched the fractions on the recipe to the fractions on the measuring cups, then poured them gingerly into the Pampered Chef mixing bowl. 30 minutes later, my mom pulled out a tray of brownies, beaming, and proudly repeated her mantra that first led me to believe that I could cook-
“If you can read a recipe, you can cook anything.”

I learned so much of my love for food and cooking by watching my parents interact over it. I loved watching my dad take the first bite of something my mom set in front of him- the routine was usually the same- he’d lean back, close his eyes and make some sound of complete adoration. Then he’d tell me that my mom made the best Whatever It Was We Were Eating. It didn’t matter what she made, hers was always the best.

I think I started cooking for that response.
The kitchen was always the heart of our home, with guests flowing down the arteries to the dining room, the living room, or the backyard with heavy laden plates, then returning for seconds, then dessert- everyone pulsing merrily throughout the house. I loved having a house full of people, eating and laughing and telling stories. I loved to watch my mom prepare trays of appetizers from my perch atop my step stool, and I studied her intently as she fanned the little colorful cocktail napkins out like the tails of pastel peacocks.

I always loved to be in the kitchen, it didn’t matter what I was doing there. Sometimes I moved my step stool over to the sink and stuck my hands in the suds, “helping” my mom with the dishes. Other times I’d crawl under the cabinets and wait for my dad to come in and find me, and sometimes I would just stand in front of the open pantry, surveying all the wonderful things to eat. When I was not in the kitchen cooking, I was in the garden in our backyard, eating tomatoes (ripe or not) and making up grassy salads to feed my baby dolls (and my cousin).
Now that I have my own home with my own guests in it, I still love to be in the kitchen the most, banging around pots and pans, throwing in pinches of this or that, stirring and smelling. I love to watch for Robin's response when he takes the first bite- he opens his eyes really wide, and then reaches for my hand and puts on this sincere, 5 year old face and says how good it is.
 I love the culture that food creates. Simply the act of cooking for someone seems to say- I care for you, I am glad you are here, and I want to nourish you. We have our band over for dinner every week, and it was there, around our table and in our kitchen, that that motley crew of musicians has become our family. My favorite thing is when one of the guys will discreetly pop his head in the kitchen for a sniff, and then when we catch him, guiltily ask, “Whatcha cookin?”

To those of you who don’t think you can cook, let me assure you, “If you can read a recipe, you can cook anything.” And maybe, like I did, you should start with these brownies.

Unquestionably the Best Brownies in the Universe


My Mom’s Brownies.

This is the first recipe I ever memorized.  I have taken them to parties, picnics, and parks. I have wooed boys with them and eaten them miserably after break-ups. There is NO occasion these brownies are not perfect for.


2 c. sugar
1 ½ c. flour
½. c. cocoa
1 tsp. salt
2 tsp. vanilla extract
1 1/4 c. vegetable oil
4 eggs
(optional: a little dash of cinnamon. But they honestly don’t need it.)

Preheat oven to 350. Grease a 9x13 baking pan with butter or Pam. In a large mixing bowl, combine  sugar, flour, cocoa and salt. Mix in vanilla extract, oil and eggs until mixture is smooth and you basically want to just eat that whole bowl raw.

Pour mixture into the prepared 9x13, reserving a spoonful for “taste testing.” Bake for 30 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean.
While they’re perfect on their own, they are also yummy topped with strawberries and blueberries, or with a dash of cinnamon, or powdered sugar, or with a bit of vanilla bean ice cream.

 Eat with the people you love.


  1. Thank you so much for cooking and making these delicious mouth watering brownies last night for group! It is amazing to see, week after week, the community that is formed around the dinner table between the people that walk in our home. I love doing life with you and am so proud of you sweetie.

    Love-Your Hubs

  2. I am so proud of you Caitlyn!!! God has truly blessed you with the gift of hospitality and a love of cooking. It is such a joy to see you at work in the kitchen. You definitely took those words to heart and have conquered and created more recipes than I would have ever believed. Julia Child would be honored :) I love you!!

  3. I just read all your posted blogs in one sitting. It felt a lot like...warm butter. ;) I love you and it's about time you shared your gift with the world!
    P.S. Thank y'all for being my favorite worship team of all time.

  4. Caitlyn, thanks for sharing your story & recipe with us. I too love to cook! I love the fellowship one has when we share a meal together. Fellowship is so important to our lives and I know the band is blessed by the fellowship they have with you and Robin.