At Corcoran State Prison those participating in Family Visits must order all of their food for the visit from a package company called Walkenhorsts. This is a pretty limited catalog that includes very basic pre-packaged processed foods at a high price. They offer unhealthy foods, hardly anything nutritionally beneficial. After digging through the online catalog for ideas and thoroughly searching for ways to cook good meals and come up with recipes for our Family Visits, among other things, I found the Betty Crocker chocolate chip muffin mix and quickly formulated a plan to make this into chocolate chip cookies instead. Now for those of you who know me, you know I don’t eat gluten and I rarely consume processed sugar so this was going to be a special rare treat for both of us. Mainly, I wanted to make something Sean would remember from before, something that would taste like freedom. And when I first mentioned my idea he had teared up at just the very thought!
In November at our second Family Visit we successfully made chocolate chip cookies. We used an egg and a stick of butter from the fresh foods options bought from the prison on the day of visiting, Betty Crocker muffin mix and sugar from the package catalog, as well as a tiny package of salt obtained from the visiting room beforehand. Our plan worked! I was even able to bring in parchment paper to bake the cookies on. We were pretty proud of ourselves for this creative culinary exploration. Sean said it was the first time he had eaten fresh baked cookies in over 14 years. Seeing him enjoy the cookies was priceless, he became sort of a perfectionist about how long he baked them, he wanted them extra gooey; never crispy or crunchy. We separated the dough into bowls for each day so that we could bake them fresh each time and enjoy them together.
We had made a plan that on the last morning we would stay up together after the last ‘count’ which was at 5 am. This way we would get to spend the last 3-4 hours together, instead of sleeping and then rushing to wake up, pack then have to say goodbye. We wanted to savor these last moments together.
So after two blissful days together on the last morning after another long night of waking for the counts, we got out of bed at 5 am. This was no easy task as neither of us is a morning-person. We took a long hot shower to wake us up and then Sean set about baking the very last batch of cookies. He boiled water for our tea and scrambled the last of the eggs for me in order to send me off with some protein to get me through my long drive home. I’ve never been a big egg fan but I absolutely love Sean’s scrambled eggs. Something about the way he makes them is different.
At 6 am the smell of freshly baked cookies was inviting, it wrapped us in it’s happy hug. We sipped our tea and indulged in the soft gooey cookies. It was still completely dark outside but there we were at the table cozy together eating chocolate chip cookies. This special experience was absolutely incredible and the feelings are nearly indescribable so I wont even begin to make an attempt. It will always stand out in our memories; our last moments together this time around were peaceful and sweet. There is nothing like the taste of a perfectly baked cookie that just melts in your mouth and makes you feel good inside but it’s even better when shared with the one you love. I think we are both still smiling.
“For He satisfies the thirsty and fills the hungry with good things” Psalms 107:9