Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Prodigal Daughter, Ross Cookies

I like my new role as The Prodigal Daughter who comes home from far away once a year and whose presence is something special. This is mostly due to the fact that I spent 20 years being the The-One-Who-Lives-Next-Door-And-Her-Presence-Is-Nothing-Extraordinary Daughter. Meanwhile, my two brothers would swoop in for their annual visit, and in anticipation my mom would spend weeks preparing the house for their arrival: weeding, dusting, waxing, cooking, and slowly crossing things off her to-do lists. You'd think the Queen was going to be gracing us with her presence with all the cleaning she did. I'm surprised she never organized parades and banners for their visits, too.

By far, the most important preparation was making "Ross Cookies" named after my younger brother because she always made them for his visits, and then she'd invariably try to dissuade the rest of us from eating them because they were for Ross. Hrmph. I lived there year round and she never made special cookies for me, let alone named any after me.

This year, as everyone began to fly home for Dad's funeral, she tried to rename Ross Cookies to "Comfort Cookies." She knew that having Ross Cookies named after our sibling always made Scott and me feel bad so she was trying to be more inclusive. Politically Correct. Diversity and all. But you can't fool us. Those were still Ross Cookies. (Insert sibling rivalry here.)

Mom says she actually calls them Funeral Cookies (when Ross isn't around) because whenever her women's group was in charge of providing refreshments for a funeral at church, she'd make Ross Cookies/Funeral Cookies. Well, Ross was coming home AND there was a funeral coming up, so she had 2 excellent reasons to make them.

What are Ross Cookies, you might ask? The recipe is nothing exceptional; it's just that they're a family tradition. They're a mixture of corn syrup, peanut butter, and Special K cereal, topped with chocolate, and cut into bars. Their real name is Special K Bars, evidently.

I'm quite sure these cookies are thousands of calories each, so it was probably a good thing that my mom tried to regulate my consumption. Over the years, when she made a batch before Ross's arrival, she'd try to hide them in the freezer, but I could always find them. And I soon discovered that if you microwave them for exactly 8 seconds, they don't break your teeth like they do if you try to eat them frozen.

I knew I had finally achieved the honored status of Prodigal Daughter when Mom told me she had made a batch for MY arrival this time! Predictably, the cookies only lasted about 24 hours. In my defense, there were 6-10 people in the house so you can't blame it all on me. Then she made another batch. By this time, I could feel them attaching themselves directly to my thighs so I asked her to postpone further production. My waistline and I couldn't afford to eat excessive amounts of Ross Cookies for breakfast (yes, breakfast), lunch, and dinner for the next 14 days. Understandably, she simply HAD to make one more batch for Ross's arrival. She "hid" them in the freezer, in hopes that it would at least slow me down a bit. Once Ross arrived, the cookies made their grand entrance. Mmmm. I simply HAD to make sure I got my fair share - a share worthy of a Prodigal Daughter. They sure are good. But they are still called Ross Cookies.

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