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  • Brandy

The Secret Ingredient is ALWAYS Love

About a month ago, our appliances went on strike. It started with the washing machine flooding twice (the second time right through the floor and into the store room in the basement). Next the dryer started making a horrible sound like someone had shoved boots into it. And finally, the oven just straight up said "NOPE" and stopped even preheating.

I married a brilliant man with a very mechanical mind. We deal with broken appliances in two very different ways, as evidenced by these pictures:

Soon the washer and dryer were up and running. But the oven confounded him. Nothing was blatantly wrong, and ordering a bunch of expensive parts might still leave us with a cold oven that was basically a glorified storage box.

So we bit the bullet, went to Lowe's, and ordered a shiny new oven. And while we were at it, we upgraded a bit. Switched to gas, and got a double oven.

You guys. A double oven has been my dream since the moment I saw one in real life. Think of all of the cookies! Think of Thanksgiving, a turkey roasting away in one oven, a row of pies in the other.

We waited for three long weeks for that oven to come in. And when it finally did, I sat in the kitchen, reading the instruction manual (because of course I did) and pondered what to make to christen our shiny new appliance.

It was an important decision. For the past ten years, I have explored baking as a ministry, an act of self-care, and a way to make friends and influence people. I've brought dozens of Christmas cookies to the office and made bundt cakes for sick friends. My first Thanksgiving with Mike I made not one, not two, but three different pies, and a cake. The week of our wedding, in a flurry of nervous energy I made pumpkin bread, filling the house with the smell of warm spices and chocolate that brought everyone from their corners of the house to sit still for a few minutes.

I finally settled in making chocolate chip cookies to break in the new oven -- the same recipe I made for our wedding. For the month before we got married, I made more than 600 cookies (not including the many test batches).

I carefully creamed the butter and sugars, broke in the eggs and splashed in the vanilla. I measured out the dry ingredients by memory, always with a kitchen scale. I poured in the chocolate chips, the mixer shuddering in protest. And then I carefully scooped them out and smoothly slid the pans into the oven.

Soon the house was again filled with delicious smells. When I pulled them out 12 minutes later, I was transported back to those weeks before we were married. These cookies summed up that time. A little bit of work followed by a lot of sweetness.

I placed cookies on little white plates and Mike and I sat together and took a bite. Burned our tongues. And smiled.

I've been giving that new oven a workout in the weeks since we got it (to the extent that the repairman has already visited us). I've made banana chocolate chip muffins and s’mores cookies and peach pie.

For Mike's birthday I tucked a dutch oven filled with little white pearl onions, mushrooms and chunks of meat, all smothered in red wine into the bottom oven, and a birthday cake in the top one.

And this weekend, we will fill our home with friends and I will fret and read too many cookbooks and cooking blogs and I will finally settle on something to feed the hearts and souls and stomachs of those who gather in our kitchen.


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