Growing up with a mom and two grandmothers who were fabulous cooks and bakers made it easy to quickly develop the passion myself. At the age of five, I recall baking cookies out of leftover piecrust (ugh!), and the great feeling I got when my Dad graciously pronounced them “delicious”. I learned growing up that it wasn’t just about the end product. The true joy, I learned, is in sharing the experience and the fruits of your labor with others. And there is something that happens when people gather around the table that breaks down barriers and brings people together – it helps build community. So I am thankful that God saw it fit for that passion to be passed down to me through the generations.
I love it so, that I’ve often prayed that God would find a way for me to somehow use the passion for baking. When something gives you so much joy, you don’t want to keep it to yourself – you want to share. Two years ago, along with a team from my church, Gracepoint, I began planning my first trip with the Little Samaritan Mission to the Republic of Moldova to distribute the Face of a Child Project to children in orphanages/schools and villages. We knew we would be spending at least a day with the children in the orphanage in Tocuz, and I thought of incorporating baking into our distribution trip. The idea of baking 10 batches of Chocolate Chip cookies seemed like the obvious thing to do. So we brought over the chocolate and baking supplies, and arranged with the Little Samaritan Mission staff to purchase eggs and butter, etc locally.
The women in the orphanage kitchen were so kind to allow us to take over much of their space, and the kids came in small groups of 5-6 to help with every step of the process. We had a ball, with the help of our translator extraordinaire. Throughout the day, we got to know the kids better through the simple act of baking.
Again, this year, we were able to plan to do another ‘baking workshop”. The kids were excited to get back in the kitchen, and we spent nearly 8 hours baking sugar cookies and chocolate crinkles – 25 dozen in all this time! Over half of the children participated, and by the end of the day, the girls were helping the kitchen staff make ravioli’s for dinner – we were told that was the first time they worked together in the kitchen. The beginnings of community…
If we were able to bake all night, I think the kids would have jumped at the chance. I asked a group of boys if they were having fun…they replied with a resounding “Da!” When asked what they liked it so much, one boy replied…”because it feels like home” .
My wish is to find a way to expand on these efforts, that it would open doors for the children to build a life skill, and maybe even a new way to make a living through the fun, creative (and delicious) act of baking. Robin H., Face of a Child Distribution Trip, Little Samaritan Mission 2010
For those of you interested in the recipe I shared with the children at Tocuz, here it is:
Mom’s Chocolate Crinkles
2 cups + 2 Tbs all purpose flour
2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 cup butter or margarine at room temperature
1 3/4 cup granulated sugar
3 large eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract
4 squares (1 oz. each) unsweetened chocolate, melted
1/2 cup confectioners sugar
Mix flour, baking powder & salt. In large bowl, beat butter & sugar until fluffy. Beat in eggs, then vanilla & chocolate. Slowly add flour; mix enough to just blend. Refrigerate dough for 1 hour. Heat oven to 350 degrees. Shape the cookies into walnut size balls and roll in confectioners sugar.
Place on greased cookie sheet & bake for 12 minutes, until tops are puffed & crackled. (Cookies should be soft inside.) Store tightly covered up to weeks with waxed paper between layers.