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Butter & Sugar & Flour (Oh, My!)

Butter. Sugar. Flour.  Is there anything better than these three special ingredients? When it comes to comfort food, they’re my favorite. Mix one cup of butter, one cup of sugar and two cups of flour, and you have the basic foundation of most cookies, pie crusts, fruit crisps, tart toppings – you name it!

And the aroma of these three ingredients baking in the oven is like heaven on earth. The scent triggers childhood memories of mothers or grandmothers baking cookies for after-school arrivals or homemade pies for weekend family dinners.

Sounds so Norman Rockwell, doesn’t it?

Whenever I receive the unexpected phone call from the bearer of sad news or see that red disaster alert banner scrolling across my smartphone, the first thing I do is take a deep breath and ask myself if I’m powerful enough to change the outcome of this latest development. Since the answer to that question is almost always “no,” the next thing I do is also almost always the same.

Do I go looking for the best bottle of chilled chardonnay? No. Do I find the nearest mall and binge shop? Nope. Do I go back to bed and pull the covers over my head? Not likely.

My next move is to go to the kitchen, take out two sticks of butter from the refrigerator and let it sit on the counter while I check to see if I have some sugar and flour. I also look for my vanilla extract (just a little) and set it right next to the butter.

Does the simple act of baking really help any of us? Oh, yes. The process of mixing the butter until it’s one with the sugar and then slowly adding the flour gives me a feeling of control –  over something – even if it’s just for a short time.

The best part is that I have friends in my tribe who do exactly the same thing. I also have women in my circle who open the refrigerator to search for carrots, celery and onions. These are the Soup People and they’re wonderful to have in your hood because they always make too much and feel compelled to drop off Tupperware filled with their latest creation.

But back to the butter, sugar and flour. My healthiest creation using this recipe of the gods is a crumb topping I spread – and not lightly – over summer fruit like apples, peaches or plums.

I also have a secret recipe for chocolate chip cookies that my adult children’s friends still ask me to make them for their children. What is this secret recipe? You can only find it on the back of the Nestle Tollhouse Chocolate Chip package…but you have to use more butter, more sugar and sift the flour. That’s it. I also add an extra cup of chocolate chips. (Sssshhhhh).

Yeah, I know. That’s a lot of butter and sugar and chocolate. So, sue me. But make the cookies. Create the apple crisp. Bake the cake. It isn’t the answer to all of life’s problems, but it does open the door to friends and family who need a lift in the midst of a personal challenge or bad day.

“Think what a better world it would be if the whole world had cookies and milk about three o’clock every afternoon and then laid down on our blankets for a nap.”Barbara Jordan

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Lee Ann Monfredini

Lee Ann Monfredini

Lee Ann Monfredini is the founder of 360Women and a life-long advocate of women’s issues, political activism, social volunteerism, organizational accountability and personal responsibility. A graduate of the University of San Francisco with a degree in Non-Profit Management, she’s not only served on the boards and executive teams of some of the most respected health organizations in the Bay Area, but built a successful second career as one of the most respected realtors in the market. She can be reached at leeann@360women.net.

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