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Hermit Cookies

My father is in the hospital tonight and I am baking. 

My father is building my house. He has built houses as a business for years, and my house is meant to be his crowning achievement, his last before he retires. My mother and he have been working hard day in and day out to get the project done on time and under budget. My husband and I have been helping as much as we can, mostly on weekends. As excited as I am about getting a brand new house that my father built and designed, I am enjoying making memories with my parents more.

While siding my house, my Dad fell off the staging which was four or six feet off the ground. He has broken various vertebrae, his sternum, bumped his head, hurt his hand and will have to wear a neck brace for the next three months. My Mom was working with him, and thankfully called for the ambulance right away. He is out of intensive care; he can walk and talk and joke, however, and for that we are all very thankful.

The night before my Dad’s accident, I was talking to my best friend about her dad, who is going through his own health crisis and may need surgery to resolve it. She was beside herself with worry, and I felt nothing I could think to say was giving her any comfort. As I so often do, I looked to my father for guidance. He wrote me words of wisdom to pass along to my friend, and those words helped lessen her panic. My father to the rescue yet again. I mentioned to my husband that night how devastated I would be if anything were to happen to my father.

The next evening, I called my mother while driving home and she told me that Dad had fallen. I had to pull over; I felt all the blood draining from my head as I heard words like 
‘Intensive Care” and “broken vertebrae.”

My Dad is my absolute role model. He instilled in me a love of knowledge, a desire to push myself, and a moral center. His compliments for my achievements are never lavish; a simple, “That’ll do, pig; that’ll do” is the highest praise I ever received. He has guided me through every tough time in my life, assuring me that he is “always on my side.” I have always cared about his approval more than anyone else’s; I always want to make him proud. I am who I am because of him.

My Mom passed her phone to Dad, and I heard him telling me that he would be ok, and not to worry. Trying to hold my tears, I told him, “Dad, I know that you want to live in my house when you are old and enfeebled; stop trying to move in so early!” And I heard his laughter. And I made a noise halfway between a laugh and a sob, I was so glad to hear it.

Dad is supposed to be coming home tomorrow. His favorite cookies are hermit cookies.I am at my wit’s end, feeling useless yet wanting to do something for him. So I baked him the best damn cookies I could. Maybe he’ll tell me, “That’ll do, pig; that’ll do” once more.

1 cup granulated sugar
1 cup softened butter
2 eggs
1/2 cup molasses
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ginger
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon cloves
1/8 teaspoon allspice
1 teaspoon baking soda
3 cups all purpose flour
1 cup raisins
3/4 cup chopped walnuts or pecans
Sparkle sugar

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Line a jelly rolls pan (around 10 by 15 inches) with parchment paper and set aside.

Beat together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in one egg at a time, then add the molasses and vanilla extract. Set aside.

Whisk together the spices, baking soda and flour. Stir the wet ingredients into the dry until well combine, then fold in the raisins and nuts.

Dump the dough onto the prepared pan and spread it out evenly. Sprinkle the sparkle sugar generously over the top. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes, then allow to cool for 10 minutes before slicing into bars. Enjoy!


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