Tuesday, December 26, 2017


Italian Christmas cookies


German Christmas cookies
Greetings everyone!

Pistachio cookies from India
How was everyone’s Christmas yesterday? Filled with joy from families and friends, I hope and pray! My Christmas was wonderful—a nice quiet morning then lots of love and laughs with some of my grown children and grandkids making sweet
fresh out of the oven gingerbread cookies
memories. I felt so blessed to be able to share the Christmas account with my grandkids as I read from a little childrens book. And I felt doubly blessed as I brought out the Forgotten Stocking. It’s an old burlap stocking with rips in it and it represents how we often forget Jesus at this time of year. Inside I have stored years of gifts given or received in our name to others in need; shoes to children in Kenya, a share of an alpaca in Peru; warm clothing in China; a share of a water well in Sudan; medical supplies to war refugees, and on and one. My grandkids stared fascinated at the pictures of these other less fortunate children so happy to receive such simple blessings and I know their hearts were touched. Thank you Jesus. 

But for many of us, Christmas brings traditions. And speaking of sweet and memories, the smell of baking gingerbread and sugar cookies always takes me back to my childhood and baking cookies with my mom and sister. Mmm, I can almost taste the cookie dough now, ha ha, since I think I ate more dough than made
Gingerbread dough, yumm!

How can a smell from so long ago bring back such strong memories? But odors often do. And they don’t necessarily have to be good ones either. I absolutely despise the smell of cigarette smoke. Because it brings back memories of being trapped in the car with windows rolled up against the cold as my father chained smoked and I struggled to breath. What is it with aromas that bring back our memories?

There is a part of our brain that translates smells into
Ukraine Christmas cinnamon twist cookies
memories called the piriform cortex. However without the interaction of other brain areas the aromas would only be stored as short term memories. 

Drs. Christina Stauch and Denise Manahan-Vaughan researched this in lab rats seeing if the change lasted more
than four hours which would indicated a long term memory was forming. They then ran some simulations and discovered
Brazilian Rosette cokkies
the piriform cortex actually had to be instructed by higher brain area called the orbitofrontal cortex which is responsible for favoring
Pepper and Spice cookies from Australia 
sensory experiences. “This time the stimulation of the brain area generated the desired change in the piriform cortex. ‘Our study shows that the piriform cortex is indeed able to serve as an archive for long-term memories. But it needs instruction from the orbitofrontal cortex -- a
Chinese Christmas cookies
higher brain area -- indicating that an event is to be stored as a long-term memory,’ says Strauch.”

What does that mean for us? Nothing we didn’t already know…that odors and aromas can trigger long-term memories. Unless you are scientifically minded like me, then the discovery of how things work is worth the research!

In the meantime, inhale deeply
Delicious cuisine from Kenya
and enjoy the baking aroma because you’re making delicious memories!

God bless, take care and
Happy New Year!
English Christmas pudding
Willow Dressel

Italian fig cookies

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