This is something I wrote for my writing group. Our task: 500 words around a cookie recipe. I’m not sure I’d eat these, but then I don’t think anyone would dare to.
Cookies For the Crops
A man does what a man has to do. He takes care of his family and he takes care of his crops.
Richard York measured a cup of flour into the wooden bowl. Only wood could be used. A wooden bowl, a wooden spoon. The ones he was using had belonged to his great-grandmother. The recipe he was using was hers too. She had come over on a ship from Ireland, born and raised in the old country. She had brought the bowl with her, packed alongside her superstitions and her recipes.
He poured the whiskey with a liberal hand. No milk, no water. Whiskey only, because that’s what they like. Eggs, butter, brown sugar. Normal staples that had to be added by the light of the moon. He had found the best results came when he mixed the cookies on the counter beneath an open window. A breeze blew in then out again, bringing the smell of the cookies out over the fields. The corn moved in the night wind, as if it could taste them already.
The corn, it was all for the corn. His crop grew tall, healthy and strong, with more ears per stalk than any of Richard’s neighbours. In a year when the rain had come only at the wrong times, and the sun had beaten down cruelly, his crops had thrived, cool and green. Powerful.
He mixed the dough, adding in more whiskey as needed. He sprinkled some of the whiskey on the counter around the bowl, and tossed some out the window onto the ground outside. The same with the flour. He sprinkled some around the bowl, then tossed a small handful out the window, where it drifted in the wind. Then he baked the cookies on a flat stone in the oven, and removed them with a carved wooden spatula.
“No metal must ever touch the cookies.” He could almost hear his mother speaking. She had passed the recipe down to him, as her mother had given it to her. She had worried at not having a daughter to pass the ritual on to. She had taken long walks in the corn, looking for guidance. Which would be better, to teach her son, her own blood, but a man? Or should she teach his wife, not of her blood, but a woman? In the end she had decided to teach him, and he was glad that she had. As the crops prospered, so did his family.
He arranged the cookies on a porcelain plate and brought them out to the field. He put the plate on the ground in front of the first row, then turned and went back into the house. He never looked back, as he had been warned not to.
Sometimes Richard lay in bed and listened to the rustling of the stalks. He could tell when it was time. When the corn yearned for cookies, he would bake. Because a man does what a man has to do.