He made fun of me for double-knotting my shoelaces. I was unaware, prior to that day, that adding a second, more protective knot to one’s tied laces was deemed wholly uncool and I suppose I have that boy to thank for educating me on the matter. He was seated at the table just across from me in our third period home economics class and he was a whole head shorter than me, as were many boys during the awkward, smelly middle school years. He had a cluster of acne on his chin and a haircut that looked as if someone had placed a metal mixing bowl on his head and cut clean around its edge, hacking off any hairs that may be in the line of fire. His braces were green and blue, alternating from tooth to tooth. Was THIS cool? I wondered, as I sat at my desk, discretely untying the second knots in my shoes. I took note of all these things as I scanned the unfamiliar faces in the classroom that day, my first day at a new school in a new town in a new state. I know those faces now; know that some of them would grow up to be doctors, lawyers, nurses and engineers … moms, dads, wifes, husbands, and everything in between. I know that one of them would not make it to the age of 30. But on that day, I knew none of this. I was nervous and anxious and jittery and hungry for acceptance in this new sea of faces into which I’d been dropped.
There were mixing bowls and wooden spoons and measuring cups at every desk. Recipes printed in large black lettering were taped to each table and a handful of ovens were preheating, coils slowly showing signs of life. 350 degrees Farenheit: the universal baking temperature. I knew this number. It had been emblazoned across my family’s oven for much of the previous Saturday, as I’d baked pie after pie with my Grandma – cherry and chocolate meringue. The memory made me happy as I sat there in class – in the middle school home economics room – and for the first time that day I felt a little more comfortable … a little more relaxed and familiar with the scenery. We would be baking cookies, my 6th grade comrades and I, and this was something I was good at; something I loved.
“Although principles of domesticity were being taught as early as the mid 19th century, the term “home economics” was not applied to this area of study until the early 20th century. In 1862, the Morrill Act was passed, establishing land-grant colleges in each state that were open to women, and that were mandated to foster research and instruction in practical areas of endeavor. At this time, the application of scientific theories and techniques modernized activities associated with home economics, such as cooking, laundry, sewing, housecleaning, care of the sick, and sanitation. This in turn led to the implementation of courses in “domestic science” at the end of the nineteenth century.
In the 1960s and 1970s, home economics came under fire with changing societal norms for women at home and in the workplace. Many schools dropped these programs and in some cases the educators of this profession were criticized for their lack of sympathy towards modern feminism. However, home economics legitimately created opportunities for women and greatly impacted American society, creating vocational and economic opportunities for women and educating boys and men about domestic skills.” – www.sites.edu
Even though several influential figures have called for a return of home economics courses in schools (Anthony Bourdain and Slate among them), it seems that Home Ec has all but disappeared from schools these days, with administrators fearing the backlash that may ensue after instituting questionable and debated coursework. The language has most certainly changed, hasn’t it? Instead of “Home Ec,” today you will more commonly see courses called something along the lines of “Family And Consumer Sciences.”
The bowl-haired boy across from me declared that his grandma baked the BEST COOKIES EVER and that he was really good at it too. In my excitement over the subject matter, I made a similarly bold declaration (as you do when grandmas are involved) and we just semi-glared at each other from across the table, wild wild west style, knowing full well that a challenge had been set in motion and the cookie bake-off would soon commence. After the mixing and sifting and softening of butter was done; after the measuring and leveling and cracking of eggs had all subsided, we placed our trays of oatmeal raisin cookies into the preheated ovens and proceeded to wait … feet and fingers tapping in eager anticipation of the results to come.
When the hope-filled DING! sounded from our small white timer, we donned oven mitts and carefully extracted our respective trays of cookies, awaiting the results of our unspoken duel. I’m proud to say that my cookies were declared the resounding winners by my fellow classmates, their crisp edges and buttery soft centers making them tough to deny. My opponent’s cookies would have been great, probably, had he not decided to go rogue during the baking process, choosing to double the amount of baking soda in his dough as he thought it would make his cookies extra big and fluffy. Our teacher took it as an opportunity to explain to us the difference between cooking and baking, instilling in us the value of following a strict recipe, never wavering from its precise measurements and instructions. Life lessons learned.
My cookies, however, were probably responsible for helping me make some of the new friends I acquired that day in home ec – some of whom I’m still friends with today. “Wow!” they’d said. “These are soooo good! What’s your name again?”
Lauren. My name is Lauren. Nice to meet you.
It’s funny, now that I think about it. Between the walls of that home economics classroom, my “new girl” nerves started to settle a bit and I began to feel like everything was going to be okay. Things felt a little easier after that, and it seemed a little more like a place where I could fit right in. It began to feel, however ironically, like a place I could call home.
Note: The 2016 Saveur Blog Awards are in full swing and the nomination period lasts for about another week. This is a wonderful opportunity for food bloggers like myself to be recognized for their work, and it would mean the world to me if you could take a second and nominate www.harvestandhoney.com in whatever category you deem most fitting (best new voice maybe?). Thanks in advance for your support and thank you so much for stopping by this little space of mine. Sharing my work and stories with you is my favorite thing and I appreciate every comment and note you send me. You guys are the best.
The Breakfast Ice Cream Sandwich (Dark Chocolate Cherry Chunk Breakfast Cookies with Toasted Walnut and Maple N’ice Cream) RECIPE
Whole grains, flax seed, fiber, and zero butter help these cookies remain safely in the healthy column. This healthy vegan n’ice cream is one of my favorite things to serve my kids and it’s a great way to enjoy a cool treat in the summer with no guilt. It’s just frozen bananas, whipped until smooth and creamy, with a bit of toasted walnut butter and some maple syrup.
for the cookies:
1 cup walnuts, ground into a fine crumb/flour (with your food processor)
1.5 cups old fashioned rolled oats
1/3 cup whole wheat flour
1/2 cup ground flax meal
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp ground cinnamon
2/3 cup natural peanut butter
1/4 cup coconut oil (melted/liquified)
1/4 cup maple syrup
1/3 cup brown sugar
2 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 cup dried cherries
1 cup semi or bittersweet chocolate chips
Preheat your oven to 360 degrees F. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper or silicone baking mats.
In a bowl, mix together the ground walnuts, oats, whole wheat flour, flax, baking soda, salt, and cinnamon. Stir well to thoroughly combine.
In the food processor, combine the peanut butter, coconut oil, maple syrup, brown sugar, egg, and vanilla. Process for several seconds to blend well, and then transfer to another large bowl. Fold in the dried cherries and chocolate chips. Add this mixture to the oat mixture, and stir well to evenly distribute. The dough will be very thick.
Scoop heaping tablespoons of the dough onto the prepared baking sheets, keeping them about 2 inches apart. bake for 8 – 10 minutes, or until golden brown and set. Flatten with a spatula slightly, after you’ve removed them from the oven. Cool completely before storing or forming the n’ice cream sandwiches.
for the Toasted Walnut and Maple n’ice cream (vegan ice cream)
3 ripe bananas, cut into 1″ pieces and frozen
1 can full-fay coconut milk, stored in the fridge overnight
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 tablespoons maple syrup or 1 tsp maple extract (or to taste)
2/3 cup walnuts, lightly toasted in a pan on the stove (med heat), and chopped
Place the bananas into a blender or food processor. Open the coconut milk and scoop the thick, white solid paste from the can (should be about 2/3 cup). Add to the blender with the bananas. Add the maple syrup and vanilla and blend until smooth. Transfer to a freezer-safe storage container and add the toasted and chopped walnuts. Stir to combine. Freeze for about 30 minutes before using.