Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Brown Sugar Bear



A few years ago, as a part of a wedding shower gift, I received a Brown Sugar Bear. It was a small gift given to me by my sister. We both knew the meaning: no more lumpy brown sugar! Even my mom was excited for me over this small token gift. Growing up in northern Illinois, we had the most humid summers. My mom's brown sugar was always hard and lumpy. My sister and I always struggled to measure the appropriate amounts of the sugar because of the stiff chunks that would not pack. While one of us was stirring vigorously to remove the lumps, the other would steal them from the bag and pop them in her mouth for a sweet treat while baking.

Sure enough, the Brown Sugar Bear did its job. My brown sugar has no more lumps. Soft and fluffy, it always packs into the measuring cup. There was no more guesses as to how much brown sugar was still needed. Consequently, no more snitching brown sugar lumps. I never knew that I would miss those little sweet pebbles until today, for some reason my Brown Sugar Bear was left out of the bag and my brown sugar was a solid lump. I worked and worked to get out the 1/2 cup I needed to bake some peanut butter cookies. When I threw it into the mix, my batter was then full of lumps. I beat and crushed until there was no remaining lumps.

As I was putting the brown sugar away, I fished out a lump and put it in my mouth. Nostalgia waved over me. Memories of baking cookies with my mom and sister. Of learning fractions with measuring spoons and arguing over who got to stir. Memories of Christmas cookie baking parties and snitches of dough. I bake because it relaxes me, but it just really sunk in today, the reason it relaxes me is because I had so many amazing experiences in the past that involved baking. It always makes me sad when people say they never baked with anyone growing up because I was lucky enough to bake with everyone growing up. French toast with one grandma, cookies and cakes with the other. My aunt taught me to make the most amazing fudge. But it was my mom who taught me the most, with whom I have the most baking memories. I am lucky in this sense, because even though I bake alone in my own kitchen, I still have all of their happy feelings and it soothes me.

So, dear Brown Sugar Bear, thank you for making my brown sugar soft, but once in awhile its nice to remember the sweetness of lumpy brown sugar.
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