Love, Grief, and Cookies

A character in one of my stories says, “Love and death sculpt our souls into shapes we couldn’t have imagined.” (Olivia, “Rain,” in Before Our House Fell into the Ocean: Stories of Love and Death.) It was true when I wrote it, and it seems especially true as holiday season rolls around again. We grieve our losses and celebrate our loves. We all know that grief never disappears. We never “get over” the death of a loved one. Grief morphs into an irreducible part of our personality. I weep for my parents. I weep for my son. But I am ever so grateful for the love of my family and friends. I’ve probably said it before, but I’m sure when the Grim Reaper comes calling, nobody thinks about how they or their friends voted, who sits in the White House or the Kremlin, what outlandish salary an NFL player is getting. We remember the love we gave and the love we received.

In that spirit, I’m remembering my mother Janice, and I’d like to share with you a cookie recipe she invented herself. Although these were holiday cookies and usually made their appearance on Thanksgiving, Christmas, and Easter, she could be persuaded to make them any time. They are a chocolate spice cookie she dubbed “Arabian Bites.” They’re for the Cookie Monster in you!


¼ cup cold coffee

½ cup raisins

1 tbsp. shortening

½ tsp. baking soda

2 squares Baker’s Unsweetened Chocolate

1 and 1/8 cups flour

½ teaspoon salt

1 tsp. cinnamon

1 tsp. allspice

1 tsp. cloves

1 cup sugar

1 tsp. vanilla

½ cup chopped walnuts

The Process:

Add coffee, raisins, and shortening to a saucepan and heat until the raisins plump. Remove from heat, add baking soda, and allow to cool. In another pan, melt the chocolate. In a large bowl, mix flour, salt, cinnamon, allspice, cloves, and sugar. Add the coffee/raisin mixture, the melted chocolate, the vanilla, and the chopped nuts. Drop by tsp. onto a greased cookie sheet (or Silpat). Bake 8-10 minutes at 375. Remove from cookie sheet and roll in confectioner’s sugar. (Over the years, we have substituted chopped dates for the raisins, and sometimes pecans for walnuts. It’s all good!)

Love you, Mom!

Here’s a picture of Mom and Dad

And here’s a picture of the front side of Mom’s recipe card. The coffee stains made it increasingly harder to read the recipe, and unfortunately we wrote over her lovely script many years ago, before we realized what a treasure it would be had we left it alone!


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