I was so moved by a recent comment from “Lisa” I just have to share it here with everyone, especially with the holidays approaching. It’s a beautiful story of love, loss, family, and the healing power of food.
Lisa first wrote:
Made these (Lemon Brownies) for the first time last year as part of my massive christmas cookie platters for family. Huge hit! So good that I wanted them all to myself but I took the high road and added them to the platters. Just made these again for my Uncle who traveled from Colorado to NY to see family for the first time since he lost both his parents and his wife all within 3 months. I wanted to bring him some comfort as his wife (my Aunt) was such an amazing baker. I brought these to him and he just kept smelling them and then dove in. He LOVES lemon and he told me that these were an absolute blessing! It made him open up and talk about memories of his wife. How wonderfully healing is that? Jenny, just wanted you to know how much of an impact this lovely space you’ve created and your recipes that are shared with so many loved ones across the planet. Thank you so much!! Family is everything.
Lisa, your letter brought me to tears. You are so kind to share this with me and I’m so very sorry for the losses endured by your uncle. To think that this simple recipe brought comfort and healing to someone who is suffering means so very much to me. We all know that foods can heal the body when we’re sick but you reminded us that when you cook from the heart for someone in need, there is no better gift. Thank you for sharing this with us and for showing your uncle how much he is loved. ❤️
Lisa wrote back:
Jenny, thank you so very much for your kind words. By leaving my story here in this wonderful space you’ve created, I was planting a tiny seed of hope, sprinkled with love, wishing the message would find it’s way to you and others and continue it’s journey across the world to inspire ways of keeping us all connected. I thought that with the high volume of comments here, you might not see it – but then again, you just might – and you did & responded. In this busy world, that’s a testament to your beautiful heart and a reminder that we should never lose hope. You are absolutely right about the power behind reaching down within ourselves to help others who are hurting, especially if we, are hurting as well. The smallest kindness (a tray of lemon brownies) can spark a wave of healing. How many family stories are anchored by people gathering and the sharing of food? It can also bring complete strangers together – creating a new bond over common ground – and can be so very healing to the giver and receiver.
The other end of my Uncle’s story (his wife and he had been together since the 8th grade, married 54 yrs) was that he was traveling to NY to stay and visit with his sister (my Mom). So, she also had lost her parents (my Grandparents, married for 74 years, my Grandmother from Alzheimer’s, my Grandfather from being 92 and the completely-at-home caretaker to someone with Alzheimer’s) and a very dear sister in law (my Aunt from cancer) and then, a few months later, her husband (my step Dad to Alzheimer’s). So, when I brought your simple lemon brownie recipe to my Mom’s home, for her and my Uncle – it was anything but a simple recipe – it was also for my Grandparents, my Aunt, my Step Dad and, lastly, myself. We were all burdened by loss but continue to look around us to see the precious connections that remain and by sharing our family memories while sitting there enjoying your lemon brownies, we fed our souls with the beautiful journey that is life and celebrated the connection to those who we have lost in this world but will remain forever connected to. After I left my Mom’s that day, she told me that my other Uncle (their other brother who had also lost both parents) stopped by to visit with both of them that same day. She sent him home with some of those healing lemon brownies to share with his family.
I also want to mention that I was extremely close to my Grandmother and some of the best memories were baking with her. I had her handwritten recipe for dinner rolls – that she always made for family gatherings – put onto a tea towel and gave as gifts to family members after she passed. I spoke of this at her funeral and afterwards, extended family members came up to me and asked for her recipe to share with their families. I turned my spare room in my tiny house into a baking room, filled with family photos on my Grandparent’s hutch that moved from house to house with them that now resides with me, my Grandmother’s baking apron hangs on the door, her old pyrex dishes and rolling pin, not only displayed but still very much in use. I am surrounded by memories and love in that baking room and I definitely feel like I am baking with my loved ones there.
And so, the tiny seed, sprinkled with love, continues its journey, ever upward and outward, in it’s never-ending journey to connect us all. Thank you, Jenny. You are a gift. You are that seed.
Here’s my Grandmother’s dinner roll recipe – in her hand writing that I had added to a tea towel to gift to family members. (as well as my Grandparent’s wedding photo that lives in my baking room):
I wanted to you to have it as a tangible reminder of the power of sharing recipes and stories with each other, although I know I’m preaching to the choir on that point. In one of the photos (the middle one) your one bowl lemon brownies recipe is in my go to recipe book in the left hand back part of the photo). I should make another batch of lemon brownies and put this tea towel next to the goodies and your recipe & take another photo and send that to you. (Sadly, I found the empty lemon brownie dish sitting in my sink this morning. My hubby who’s not a sweets kind of person – and who usually saves the last of something good for me – told me how great those lemon brownies were! Emphasis on ‘WERE.”) 😉 He said “Oh Wow! So moist! So light!” Back to the store for lemons!
Lisa, you’re an inspiration. Thank you again for sharing your story. ❤️ – jenny
Lisa, you are a shining light in these turbulent times.
We are only limited by our imagination and if we don’t have a good imagination, we can borrow it from others by reading all of the comments. I’ve never had a lack of imagination. It’s like a cartoony amusement park in my brain 24/7 and using that sense of humor really helps shift our perspective and make life fun. Speaking of a great sense of humor, Jenny, thank you for all of time & experimentation & patience you have put into the creation & refinement of your recipes over the years and for sharing your magic and wit with us within this wonderful community! When you think of it, all of us are like single ingredients in a recipe – good alone but can be great and absolutely magic when we all come together, bound by love, patience, kindness and refinement. 💝 Also, thanks from the bottom of our healthier hearts for sharing your Kitchen Wizardry and making the recipes with healthier ingredients so we can all live our best lives and share the gift of health with others. It’s harder to go out there and “be the good” when you don’t feel so good.
There is so much helpful information here on this website and I’m still exploring the sections. After reading the “About Me” biography section, I was inspired by Jenny’s courage, work ethic, fortitude and pioneer spirit in constantly reinventing herself. Jenny 2.0… Jenny 2.1….etc. I delighted in the wonderful things you experienced was truly taken aback by some of the challenges you faced but you made tweaks (like a literal Jenny recipe tweak) and hit life head on and persevered, emerging even better and stronger. I truly admire your courage as I’ve always chosen to travel the safe path even when I know that I’m currently stagnating. You know, not rocking the boat. My husband and I just learned that we are both getting laid off over the next few months. I’ve been at this job for 33 years – since I was 21 – it’s all I’ve known and was my safety net, even when I knew it wasn’t fulfilling work and doesn’t make an positive impact on others. I was devastated but I now know it’s not a bad thing – it’s for the best. Jenny, I didn’t just stumble onto your community here by accident at this time in my life. This is the inspiration that I found just when I needed it. Inspiration is all around us, if we just open our eyes and recognize it. I’m taking a page from Jenny’s life and it’s now time for Lisa 2.0! I will find a purpose, a new path, a way to feed my soul and a way to help others. Onward and upward, my friends! I know I’ll be baking … often and trying these recipes while constantly tweaking the Lisa recipe. Go out there and bake it a great day!
Thank you for helping me honor their memory, Jenny. 💜
I usually make the lemon recipe but tried using oranges this time. As my Dad used to say when he was bowled over by something great, “Yowser!” I love them both. The lemon is more of a tangy & sweet (yum!) and the orange is more subtle but all sweet (also yum!). If you have people with different sweet or tangy preferences, you can make them all happy. Tried sprinkling some dark chocolate on top of an orange brownie to balance the flavors. Also yum!
With the orange brownies (see photo above) I set aside a pinch of the zest for when the glaze has almost set, sprinkling it on the top to make the zest color stand out more. I was so excited to see the results with the orange version, that I forgot how many tablespoons of the juice from the oranges I had already added to the glaze (even though I read Jenny’s note about adding one at a time and checking the thickness before adding more – great tip, Jenny! – I got caught up in the excitement) so my glaze was thinner and ran over the top, sides and soaked into the bottom … but enveloping the brownie in a blanket of flavor. It was a mistake but delicious nevertheless. Lesson learned to remain focused. I will eventually try limes and was thinking I would add a little coconut to that (and drink it all up). 😉 Maybe by just chopping the shredded coconut finer & just sprinkle a tiny bit on the top after glazing? And definitely toasted coconut. Oh the possibilities are endless with Jenny’s recipes.
On a side note, as you can see from my photos, I may have to call the exterminator. I’m plagued by a Gumby infestation! They always seem to crawl down from where they live on my Grandparent’s hutch in my baking room and try to steal my baked goods. Papa Gumby is making off with a Lemon Brownie. He’s got good taste … and so do those brownies. The Gumby figures were my Step Dad’s. They remind me to stay flexible and bend with life’s curves and to definitely keep that child like sense of fun alive and well. Just wish they wouldn’t steal my baked goods. Good thing they’re fast or else they’d end up in one of these recipes. Gumbalaya anyone? 😉