Sweet old Mrs. Akin lived in a big white house. It was ancient, beautiful and maybe a wee bit haunted in my elementary-school-aged mind. This is where I had my piano lessons each week, and conveniently, where we had our piano recitals once a year. When I say we, I mean my girlfriends and I. Only now do I see how lucky we were to study Mozart together as well as cute boys.
When we arrived at this shindig, there would be rows of folding chairs where the living room furniture used to be, printed programs fanned on a table, and flowers in vases. We'd sit with our parents, knees knocking, and wait. Then, in turn, walk the aisle to the piano, curtsy and say "I shall play... blah blah blah." The last words I remember saying were "I shall play, Hungarian Rhapsody by Franz Listz." This was the one that finally kicked me, the last classical piece I played before converting to Captain & Tennille. But forgive me, I digress...
The little story I'd really like to share, is about one of my girlfriends. We'll call her 'D'. She was smart and pretty with a confident streak that was strong, but wavering. She began her performances masterfully, hitting the right notes with impeccable timing, but as far as I can remember, she just never finished. In the middle of the music, something would trip her up. Her hands would freeze, head would drop, and tears would fall. My heart broke for her every time. Every. Time.
When my turn came, by some bit of magic, I would make it through. And so did the rest of my girlfriends. I think of this now with my grown-up-mind and see something I didn't see before. D was quite possibly our hero. Without knowing it, she cried for all of us, so we didn't have to. Because you see, we were all perfectionists. (You too?) We had the same all-or-nothing tendencies that could send us spinning toward self sabotage. But at this moment, D's tears released our tension, stirred our conviction, and made us humble. That, I think, was the magic. And this helps me know that when I show vulnerability as well, there's a chance I help another shine. Girlfriends are good like that.
And the best part of the story, is that most of the dramas of life can melt away at a refreshment table. After the chaos of chords and cadences, we found our joy again. Sparkling punch in crystal glasses and those little dotted confections known as 'Forget Me Not Cookies'. I can still see Mrs. Akin pointing back toward her kitchen narrating how easy they were to make. She'd put them in the oven, turned off the heat, and forgotten them until morning. Nice! Even then I knew I liked the kind of baking that required very little baking.
So here's that bit of joy I remember from piano recital day. I hope they'll remind you to take yourself lightly. They're so simple even I can't mess them up. (Except for when I tried to snap a photo while using the electric mixer. Who knew that taking your hand off the bowl would cause it to spin out of control?)
PIANO RECITAL COOKIES
- 3 EGG WHITES
- 1 CUP SUGAR
- 3/4 TSP CREAM OF TARTAR
- 1 TSP VANILLA
- 1 CUP MINI CHOCOLATE CHIPS
- 1/2 CUP PECANS (OPTIONAL)
Gather the above ingredients, some bowls & spoons, and preheat the oven to 350. To make the meringue, mix the egg whites with a mixer until they form stiff peaks. Slowly add sugar, cream of tartar and vanilla. This is really fluffy stuff! It's fun make pretty designs with the beaters, but do try to remember your goal—cookies!
Fold in the chocolate chips and add pecans if you wish. I love the pecans. They cut the sweet and make them taste healthier, but kids and husbands tend to prefer them without. Go figure. Dollop out the mixture on a cookie sheet, place in the oven, and turn off the heat. Ahhh, all cozy for the night. By morning (or after a movie marathon) they'll have crisped to a glorious cookiness. These are delicate melt-in-your-mouth treats that crumble just enough to sprinkle your pretty clothes. Take yourself lightly right? And enjoy!