A GingerBread Recipe & Meditation
by Dessi Jackson
My hand was holding the bowl, my heart was beating, my mind listening. My whole motherly self was inhaling the entire moment. Little hands, sticky table, flour, molasses : a gooey mess. In our family, any activity comes with a story. So, with this gingerbread-making mess comes the story of the sweet and loving friar, Pasquale.
“A teaspoonful of ginger must have made the good man sneeze, right Mommy?” I hear my daughter’s voice between the sneezes.
“So the saints sneeze like us?” my sweet son chimes in, his face glowing.
“Yes, my darling soul. He sneezed, he measured, he mixed, and cleaned. He got his habit sleeves covered in molasses and pasta sauce. On Fridays he even had a few fish bones stuck in there.”
“It is a good thing, then, that he had the angels helping him,” a wee voice chimes in. “Why did they come to his kitchen, mommy? Why did the angels come down?”
Putting what was left of the sticky mess in pans to bake, I sat myself down onto the kitchen chair. Now the big ones came closer, too. So I started telling the end of this heavenly story of this earthly man.
“The angels came down to his kitchen, for they loved him so, and they knew how much Pasquale loved them as well. They came down, for only when we come down to earth, face to face with dirt, then, only then can we see heaven. Only in the humility of our earthly state can we grow the wings to fly to heaven.
“Pasquale’s state was a most beautiful one. He was a cook. He showed his love for his brothers in the sacredness of cooking the onions for their much-loved onion soup. The angels always come down from heaven to help the men who do their daily duties. Think of it: is there no more beautiful moment than the one covered in love and prayer, thus united Heaven and Earth. Mixing gingerbread is not only that. It is a beautiful dance of gratitude, prayer, and love. The flour we use is made sacred by the work of an old farmer’s cracked hands. The applesauce smashed and stirred by your very own wee hands.”
I looked around, noticing their eyes: calm, deep, and pensive. I smiled and then finished the story.
“The angels came to the kitchen amongst the pots and dishes because by his prayer, love and fidelity to his state, Pasquale had created an altar upon which heaven can rest.”
We stood there silent for a while, until the timer announced the bread was ready. The beeping went on, but nobody moved but me. Smiling, I went about removing the hot gingerbread from the oven. They were all doing their daily duties. For me, it was the cooking. For some, the serene thinking and pondering this gingerbread story.
“…and perfect stacks of the shiny gingerbread so dear to boyish souls.” L.M. Alcott
1/2 cup honey
1 cup butter apple or pear
1 cup molasses
2 1/2 cups flour (yes, you can use my gluten free flour blend here to make this gluten free! ed.)
1 1/2 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp ginger
1/2 tsp. salt
1 cup hot water
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Grease and flour a 9-inch square pan.
2. In a large bowl, cream together the applesauce and butter. Beat in the egg, and mix in the molasses.
3. In a bowl, sift together the flour, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, ginger, and cloves. Blend into the creamed mixture. Stir in the hot water. Pour into the prepared pan.
4. Bake 1 hour in the preheated oven, until a knife inserted in the center comes out clean. Allow to cool in pan before serving.
My name is Dessi, and it’s no coincidence that my name rhymes with “messy.” My life is full of beautiful messes. I have six beautiful children: the oldest is 12 and our baby is almost 2 years old. Every day is full of books, toys, food, pets, our garden, chickens, and ourselves. To anyone else, it might look like a mess, but to me it is a beautiful mess. I’m a 32-year old immigrant from Bulgaria, in Eastern Europe, who now lives in the countryside of Maryland. I enjoy the homeschooling lifestyle because it keeps us together between school and play. I like knitting, cooking, reading, gardening, and sewing. (As I was dictating to my husband who is typing this, my son said, “Then why don’t you sew the holes in my pants?” I’ll get to that soon.) Best of all, I like occupying my home. All these things are done quite comically and imperfectly in my large family life. My children tell me that I should write a book. It’s been on my to-do list, right after patching up Peter’s pants. http://lifewithsmallblessings.blogspot.ca/