"Can you believe that your baby girl is nearly eleven weeks old? Congratulations! Enclosed are Goodfood Chocolate Ginger Date cookies to help celebrate."
I like to think I'm a good friend, but if I'm honest, I'm a lot more unreliable and inconsistent than I was before I became a parent. Fortunately, people seem understanding about these shortcomings (or at least they pretend to be). But the fact remains that I see a lot fewer people a lot less often than I used to, and getting together with dear friends seems unbelievably and unacceptably challenging most of the time.
With one good and very likable post, however, social media can help soothe that "I never see anyone!" feeling and give me the impression that I'm maintaining many relationships. It's a good illusion. And even though I know that status updates and photos of my dinner are no substitute for actual communication with people I care about, I will probably continue to rely on the shortcuts that social media offers because they are so easy and fun.
But what about people who aren't on social media? Two of my best friends aren't. Until they had a baby three months ago, I was terrible about keeping up with them because, as I mentioned, they don't exist on social media (and I have become a less-attentive friend). But sometime over the last 15 years of our friendship, these people became family, and I was so overjoyed when they texted to say their baby had been born. I was also frustrated that most of the length of California separates me from them. I couldn't just show up and bring them food on a whim. And I found myself wondering when I'd see the next photo of that adorable baby.
Obviously, these two issues aren't problems. Lucky for me, I pretty quickly snapped out of that way of thinking and recognized these "problems" as opportunities to become a better friend. By making a giant pest of myself by text and email, I get almost all the photos and funny baby anecdotes I could wish for. And by sending care packages, I have managed to supply my friends with snacks over many weeks.
When I started sending packages, I had no plan for how long I would continue. I just needed to send them love. And snacks. After all, sometimes snacks are love.
For the first package, I baked and sent granola bars that would arrive for the baby's second week birthday. The text I received from my friend when the box arrived was all the encouragement I needed to send another package: "Thank you so much for the granola bars! I just ate 2. Our biggest miscalculation has been how difficult it is to feed us. These literally came in the nick of time...."
Over the next couple of months, I kept sending one package per week. Some snacks were healthier than others. I chose what to send based on what I felt like baking, what we had in the house (like zucchini, or the ingredients for granola), and what I thought my friends would enjoy. I baked all of the recipes gluten-free, because that's how we bake at our house.
I can hardly express the expansive joy I've gotten from baking (and waiting in line so I can send the boxes)--activities I normally tolerate or even loathe. I'm not quitting social media anytime soon, but all this real life making, sending and connecting has been a refreshing reminder of what friendship can be.
Here are the snacks I sent, including links and my personal recipe notes or substitutions.
Smitten Kitchen Thick, Chewy Granola Bars -- I use hemp seeds, chocolate chips, dried cherries, and pumpkin seeds. These bars are even better with coconut oil substituted for the butter. I skip the corn syrup and add a bit more maple syrup or honey instead.
Cacao Nib Cookies -- I add one egg and 2 tablespoons of coconut flour, and I use plain cacao nibs instead of chocolate chips. As Wyatt says, cacao nibs don't taste very yummy on their own, but they are delicious as an ingredient IN something.
Real Chocolate Chip Cookies -- I use sweet rice flour instead of oat flour, melted butter, and added 2 tablespoons of milk to the batter. I let the batter rest in the fridge for about 45 minutes to give the gluten-free flour an opportunity to hydrate and lose its graininess.
Bulk Bin Snacks from Rainbow Coop -- I was short on time. Wyatt scooped them some of his faves: cashews, pistachios, and dried organic California apricots
Week 11: Goodfood Chocolate Ginger Date Cookies/Biscuits Get out your cooking scale because this recipe is written mostly in grams, and it's fantastic. I substituted an equal amount of my gluten-free flour blend for the all-purpose flour, added 2 tablespoons of milk, and before baking, I let the dough rest for 45 minutes in the refrigerator to give the gluten-free flours an opportunity to hydrate and lose their graininess.