Editor of the Iowa Soybean Review

(Photo: Joclyn Bushman/Iowa Soybean Association)

Rural Route 2: The way the cookie crumbles

January 4, 2023 | Bethany Baratta

As I write this column in early December, the aroma of chocolate chip cookies wafts through the air of our two-story home. I’d consider this a test run for holiday baking, but the tried-and-true recipe doesn’t need a test run; it’s a keeper.

While I was growing up, my mom ran a cookie-baking business, Cookie Gram Co., out of our home. Undoubtedly, November and December were big months for business. Friends and family would order cookies as holiday gifts.

Mom baked several varieties each day — everything from chocolate coconut to gingersnap cookies. My siblings and I waited for a chance to eat the misshapen cookies or the ones that simply weren’t up to mom’s standards. Cookies were shrink-wrapped into stacks of three, neatly lined up on Styrofoam trays, and placed in a box lined with festive transparent cellophane. She’d enclose a note requested by the customer, then close the box, sealing it with packaging tape.

My dad would often be the cookie courier to the post office, where the postmaster processed the packages before sending them out into the world.

Years later, I still think about those recipients, some of whom were on military bases throughout the world. When they opened those boxes, I hope they felt the warmth of the loved one gifting the cookies. I’d like to think of it as a hug, sewn up in the seams of the cellophane.

As life got busy with five kids in school, a full-time job, plus helping on the farm, mom took down the handmade wooden Cookie Gram Co. sign near our mailbox that advertised the company. She hung up her apron and closed the business. However, the recipes remain.

Those cookies — representative of times on the farm: sometimes crummy (crumbly), lean (not rolling in the dough) — are a part of the recipe of my childhood. The temperature and the baking time for each batch varies — just like us.

In this issue of the Iowa Soybean Review, enjoy the perspectives of seven individuals involved in the ag industry in Iowa. Hear how their businesses were impacted in 2022 and what it means for 2023. In putting this issue together, I’ve learned a lot about the organizations and projects right here in Iowa. I hope you learn something, too. What perspectives will help shape (and bake) your year?