Dear Shaina,

You think Bubbe was disappointed because you didn’t eat her meat? Bubbe (and Zayde) adored you so completely that you could feel the love oozing from every pore of their bodies whenever anyone spoke your name. I think you misinterpreted her assertion of her Bubbe status (Is your mother starving you again?) as disappointment. Bubbe is absolutely qvelling (bursting with pride) over you right now and bragging that her Shainele is such a balabusta (one who has mastered the art of homemaking, especially in the kitchen). Being a balabusta was the highest compliment she could pay to any woman and really her greatest aspiration for me. Forget the higher education and advanced degrees…a woman who knows her way around the kitchen is what counts.

You brought Bubbe immense pleasure! And your bond with Bubbe is a gift to me…a link in our truncated lineage, affirming the enduring ties between mother and daughter and back again. You were my unintended gift to her…a gift that she was robbed of sharing with her own mother and mourned her entire life. She would always say to me, “When Shainele gives me a hug, I can feel it in my whole body…my heart feels lighter.”  Maybe those weren’t her precise words, but the message was clear. You eased her pain…even if you didn’t eat her chicken.

Bubbe is smiling big smiles over you and probably promoting the virtues of vegetarianism to all the other good souls up there. She would be encouraging your cookie development and reminding you of her own signature cookies, aka Bubbe Cookies.

When I was little, she made hundreds of these cookies at a time. She used a shisel (bowl) the size of half our kitchen table and never used a recipe. She cut up maraschino cherries into fragments, and it was my job to place a piece in the center of each cookie. She counted every cookie precisely (only to measure her accomplishment) and stored them between layers of wax paper in containers that lived in her freezer.  They were served to guests and us…a little something sweet for after dinner with the coffee. They were – and are – delicious, especially right out of the oven.

Despite the effects of aging on her gnarled hands and physical stamina, Bubbe continued to bake cookies until she was nearly 90. She loved these cookies and brought them to dinner at our homes, sent them to grandchildren out of town and served them to anyone gracious enough to stop by. As she got older, Bubbe Cookies devolved into freezer-tainted, hardened disks reminiscent of mildly sweetened sawdust each containing exactly three chocolate chips. Nevertheless, she continued her lifelong practice of not allowing anyone to leave her home without the taste of sweetness.

Maybe Quinoa Cookies will become your signature cookie, to be eaten by your children and grandchildren. Bubbe is smiling!

Love,
Mom