L’Chaim, Martha!- Chocolate Chip Cookies for Passover! -216 eggs, 165 1/4 cups of sugar, 162 3/4 sticks of Butter, and 199 3/4 cups of flour used so far- 51 recipes to go!

June 2, 2011

Martha's Chocolate Chip Cookies for Passover

André's Chocolate Chip Cookies for Passover

Earlier this May I prepared a batch of Martha’s Chocolate Chip Cookies for Passover which uses matzo meal and farfel in the place of flour. It also includes vegetable oil and chocolate chips that contain no milk solids (not easy to find) to make a pretty decent cookie for the holy, if not dietarily restrictive week of Passover. I whipped these up for a couple of Jewish co-workers who don’t really bother with observing the kitchen etiquette of Passover. They appreciated the gesture, though. I think the matzo meal was a terrific solution for flour but the ground farfel wasn’t to my liking. Farfel is an egg-based pasta. Once ground into tiny pieces it’s added to Martha’s kosher batter. Once baked, each cookie features crunchy bits of uncooked pasta. Not the most pleasant of textures and really didn’t add any flavor or dimension to the recipe. Other than the crunchy and gum-ripping pieces of jagged pasta, this was a pretty tasty cookie.

I haven’t been able to post to this blog in awhile because I’ve been traveling quite a bit. My latest trip was a week spent with my sister, her twelve-year-old son and five-year-old daughter. We met up in Orlando where my sis was participating in a conference for her work. My sister agreed to watch the temperamental five-year-old most of the time if I could keep my nephew entertained. It was the first time I spent any significant time with him.

Twelve-years-old is an interesting age. I could see my nephew teetering between childhood and adolescence. His freckled, pale face sported a bit of shadow on his upper lip. A sign that the child I knew will soon be gone, replaced with a taller, lankier and more awkward version of himself. I knew I’d have to make the most of this time with him. It was, in a sense, the last time I’d see him, at least as the boy I knew.  Every night when we’d return from a grueling day at the various theme parks, he and I would don our swimsuits and head out to the pool where we would let the warm, chlorinated water work its magic on our sore feet and sunburned skin. He asked me a lot of questions. There was a lot he wanted to know.

My nephew was still a toddler when my sister separated from her husband. The divorce was ugly. Uglier than most. The courtroom battle was filled with vitriolic banter culminating in a great custody tug-of-war. My nephew and his older brother were caught in the middle. These two, sad and scared boys became very close despite their six-year age difference. This is an issue since the oldest is leaving home this Fall to attend college in New Orleans.  Ultimately the decision was made for my sister and her ex-husband to share custody of their two boys.

My nephews don’t know much about me and, honestly I know very little of them except that I love them very much. In the warm hotel pool, my nephew confided that his father did not like me. This, of course was no surprise. After all, l’m  the eldest sibling of his sworn enemy. What I didn’t know was the language he used to describe me in front of  my nephews. “Uncle Faggot” was his term of choice. At first, my nephew didn’t want to tell me. I could see his face twist when he tried to explain how his father described me. I could also see how much it hurt him to tell me this, far more than it hurt me to hear it. I broke the tension by laughing. “I’m forty-three-years-old,” I explained to my nephew. “I’ve had plenty of time to get used to people like your daddy.” “It doesn’t bother you?,” my nephew asked, brow furrowed. “Of course it bothers me, but I know his words can’t hurt me,” I answered. I then asked, “Does it bother you?” There was a long silence followed by a sigh. He didn’t want to talk about this anymore and so we chose to float a bit longer in the lazy current that encircled the pool.

My nephew interrupted the silence. “I’m a girlie boy,” he announced with a tiny, wavering voice. “What do you mean?,” I asked. “Well, I’m no good at sports. I don’t like all the things that boys are suppose to like. Y’know… a girlie boy!,” he went on. I looked at him floating in the dark. I could see he had never shared this with his family and my response would need to be the right one. I put my arm around him and told him, “I love you and believe me, I’ve got you out-girlied. When I was twelve I took up embroidery.” “That’s pretty girlie, André,” he laughed. “Damn straight,” I chuckled.  He them gave me a hug and said, “I love you, too.”

Lying in between the cool, soft sheets of our tiny hotel room I began to worry for him. This Fall he enters the seventh grade at Saint Thomas More, the same school I attended as a child. The same school I’ve written about so many times before. The school and staff that looked the other way when fellow students made life a living hell for the little, girlie boy known as André. What about his daddy? If I’m Uncle Faggot, what would his girlie-boy son be? These thoughts made me so very sad but then I remembered I survived these obstacles and so would he and unlike myself, he’s got a girlie uncle who’s just a phone call away. After a great deal of tossing and turning I faded into a deep and much needed sleep.

The next day he and I went to Universal Studios to check out the Wizarding World of Harry Potter. Over the course of the day we stood in line after line for a multitude of rides. We drank Butterbeer and Pumpkin juice. We drank milkshakes and ate turkey legs. We shared a lot of laughs and a few thrilling scares. We also shared a lot of hugs. In Olivander’s Wand Shoppe I sat and watched him spend almost an hour choosing the perfect wand. This is the twelve-year-old-boy equivalent of picking out a prom dress. I didn’t mind, though. After watching him tap away texts on his iPhone every five minutes it was nice to see him be a kid again. After much internal struggle, he finally decided to purchase the wand of Sirius Black, the outcast of the wizarding world and Harry Potter’s loving uncle. The significance of this wasn’t lost on me. That evening we ate sushi. Believe it or not, it’s one of my nephew’s favorite foods. Mine, too for that matter.

We sat munching on dragon rolls and spicy tuna. I watched my nephew wave his wand about unleashing his twelve-year-old imagination. I saw it as a defiant gesture. Soon this boy will encounter the world of acne, hormones, an opinionated father, shaving, body odor and the unspeakable cruelty of peers. Growing up is the most difficult thing any of us will ever do. But not tonight. Tonight is for magic, and wands, and wizards, and girlie uncles, and as many hugs as we can stand.

Soon there will be no more of any of these. He will no longer ask me questions and even if he did, my answers would be considered the annoying ruminations of a dotty relative. There will no longer be comforting hugs, no more late night swims, no more wands, no more magic, nothing left of this boy I love. I sat there staring, my heart breaking just underneath a warm, smiling façade.

“What magic do you want me to do?,” he asked.

“Stop time. Stay as you are at this very moment,” I wanted to say. “Don’t grow up.”

I smiled and bowed my head and aloud I joked, “Can you fix baldness?”

“I’m a wizard, not a god,” he responded.



2 Responses to “L’Chaim, Martha!- Chocolate Chip Cookies for Passover! -216 eggs, 165 1/4 cups of sugar, 162 3/4 sticks of Butter, and 199 3/4 cups of flour used so far- 51 recipes to go!”

  1. Chelsea Says:

    I’m crying. Thanks again for sharing.

  2. Alyse Says:

    I just love that boy!!

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