I pulled out my recipe for snicker doodles, an old-time favorite for the holidays. As I put in the shortening, butter, sugar, eggs and vanilla, the recipe said to blend until creamy. My mind flashed to when I first learned how to bake, back in the day when cake mixes were a novelty or used for last minute church suppers.
The kitchen was my mother’s paradise and her instructions were gospel. To deter meant banishment from the stove.
First: “Wash your hands. No good cook comes to the kitchen with dirty hands.”
Next: “Now read the recipe, and put all the ingredients on the shelf.”
Third step, to my mother the most crucial in the whole process: “cream the shortening, butter, eggs and sugars.”
I stuck in the rotary beaters, set it on high and splashed wet globs from one end of the kitchen to the other. “Done,” I said.
Mother knew better, knew I was always in a hurry to get to the end of a project. “Nope. It’s too grainy. Set the beater on low, scrape the sides frequently, fold the batter together and repeat. Let time and the ingredients do their magic.”
Reluctantly, I started again, following her directions blowing out my frustration all the while. “This takes too long.”
“Don’t rush it,” Mother said. “Creaming is the most important step in the whole process. If you hurry the creaming, the cookies will come out crumbly and dry. Creaming is what makes them chewy and delectable. Don’t rush the creaming. It takes time but the result is worth it.”
I slowed down and watched with wonder as the goo gradually melded into a creamy, light texture, the ingredients transforming before my eyes.
As I carefully creamed for the snicker doodles, Mother’s words came back to me. I thought about our instant society, how we crave immediate results, the growing tendency to hurry through life in the fastest checkout line. In our haste we blunder through the mix of it all, leaving globs of broken dreams in the muck of our speed.
I thought how the creaming principle is true in all the rooms of our lives, not just the kitchen. We tend to rush for the pleasure without enduring the process. God has given us the recipe for a rich, textured life. If we take the time to cream it, not be satisfied with grainy goo or toss it aside because of its unpleasantness—if we repeatedly scrape, fold and beat for as long as it takes, the grimy gook of our shattered hopes will become that creamed foundation that awakens the flavor of our human experience.