Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Love Nibbles

Her hands kneaded the dough, flour embedding in the cracks of her skin. With a smile on her face, she lovingly patted the dough into a ball only to punch it down again. Wiping her cheek with her arm, a smear of flour on her cheek can't hide her flush of pleasure.

Two eyes watched as she slides the pan into the oven and turns to the second ball of dough. The little girl peeked over the counter, watching as the roller gently flattened the cookie dough into a thick blob. It was like a book of sugary secrets, delights waiting to be sampled.

The woman's eyes twinkled as she handed the little girl two cookie cutters. The little girl carefully pressed the cutters into the dough, peeling the thin shapes off the tea towel and lying them on the pan. After the pan was filled and all that remained of the dough was tiny bits, the little girl went to slide the pan into the oven.

"Wait!" her grandmother cried, guiding the little girl gently back to the table. "We're not done." She indicated the small bits of dough left on the towel.

"But grandma, those are just crumbs," the little girl said, cocking her head in confusion. "It won't make a whole cookie. The grandmother's eyes crinkled at the edges in a smile as she poured sugar and brown sugar into a bowl. She rolled a chunk of dough into a ball and batted it around the sugar mixture. She carefully sprinkled the tiny sugar drops between the cookies on the pan. The little girl watched with interest as the crumbs turned into minute treats with a brief touch of her grandmother's fingers.

"Baking is an act of love," her grandmother murmured, sliding the pan in the oven. The little girl stared through the glass at the specks of dough on the pan. "The cookies are hugs and kisses. And the tiny little specks of dough? Why, those are love nibbles."

From that day on, the little girl never discounted a cookie shattered into pieces, a muffin reduced to crumbs or a few leftover scrapes in the mixing bowl. For they were love nibbles, the sweetest type of love.