Blueberry Cornflake Thumbprints

June 1, 2013 at 1:00 am 47 comments

Blueberry Cornflake Thumbprint 4

I just finished my junior year of college. Which seems impossible, and exciting. I’ve signed the paperwork on my first two apartments—one in New York, where I’m interning this summer, and another in Cambridge for my senior year. On top of everything else, I’m finally 21. But for some reason I can’t stop thinking about 17.

I haven’t posted in a long time. I didn’t forget or stop trying to. But my life has gone through a lot of changes in the last four years. I moved to the opposite coast, took classes, interned, worked, met new people, studied abroad, and lived on my own for the first time. I was in college and there was so much to do! So much to figure out about myself! And there were so many reasons why I wasn’t blogging.

Occasionally I tried to bake, but it felt like going through the motions. I couldn’t explain why it no longer made me happy, it just didn’t, even before my blogging hiatus began. The last thing I wanted was for 17 and Baking to feel like homework, so I didn’t force it. I wanted to want to write. I just didn’t expect it to take this long.

Blueberry Cornflake Thumbprint 2

For months, I could explain to everyone—especially myself—why I “couldn’t” blog. My freshman year dorm didn’t have an oven, ingredients were expensive, I didn’t have the free time I did in high school. But my explanations were starting to sound like excuses. For what, I wasn’t sure.

I began noticing I felt unmotivated about other things too. I’d stopped taking out my camera, even though I loved photography. I kept writing for classes, but the joy and creativity had noticeably packed up and gone a long time ago. I didn’t feel like hanging out with friends or going out on the weekends. I didn’t want to waitress. I just wanted to cozy up at home and watch TV.

At first I thought feeling like this was a natural part of growing up. In addition to all the changes in my life, I stressed about my career, my future, and my “potential,” which I worried wasn’t turning into “reality” fast enough. I convinced myself I no longer enjoyed baking to avoid facing a much more unpleasant truth—that I didn’t really enjoy anything anymore.

I didn’t feel sad exactly, but I felt empty a lot of the time, and for no real reason. Boredom and anxiety pushed out positivity and ambition. Sometimes I realized I didn’t even know why I was upset. The bewilderment and frustration was just as bad as the unhappiness itself. I felt like I was living in my own empty exoskeleton.

Blueberry Cornflake Thumbprint 3

Depression is terrifying. There’s no denying that. But I’m learning it touches a lot of people and is nothing to be embarrassed about. It’s also not necessarily a life sentence. Though I can’t explain why, I’ve been feeling better these days. The fog is still there, but I can see beyond it, and I’m excited by the hazy future I can make out.

A few weeks ago, I felt like baking, so I made these blueberry thumbprint cookies. There isn’t a cute memory or anecdote to recall. I couldn’t even tell you why I rolled them in cornflakes (for texture? I don’t know. I didn’t question it.) But I did feel a little better, watching them cool on the counter. I didn’t get my hopes up, but I smiled a little when none of the cookies made it to Day 2.

And today, I found the motivation to publish this post, which I’ve been writing in my head and second-guessing for months. I’m not going to question that either, just keep looking forward.

Blueberry Cornflake Thumbprint 5

I don’t know if it was a mistake to let the blogging slow down for so long. Ultimately, I try not to blame myself. I’ve realized it wasn’t something I could just chin up and power through. But it is something I can start again, if I want.

I don’t feel 17 anymore and I won’t pretend to. But that doesn’t mean I’ve outgrown 17 and Baking. Instead, I’d like to think it can grow with me. There are so many things I have yet to do, places to visit, people to meet. There are more wonderful things to look forward to than ever before. I’m going to start with 21.

Blueberry Cornflake Thumbprint 1

Blueberry Cornflake Thumbprints
Makes 2-3 dozen cookies

1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
2/3 cup white sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/4 tsp salt
2 1/4 cups all purpose flour
Blueberry Jam
1 cup crushed cornflakes

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F.

Cream the butter and sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer until smooth, light, and fluffy. Beat in the vanilla extract. Gradually add the flour and salt until the dough comes together.

Roll tablespoon-fuls of dough into 1 1/2 inch balls. Roll in the crushed cornflakes. Place an inch apart on a sheet lined with parchment paper. Using a teaspoon, press a small dent into the center of each ball. Fill with a teaspoon of blueberry jam.

Bake for 20 minutes, or until the cookies are just beginning to brown around the edges. Cool completely on a wire rack.

Entry filed under: Cookies. Tags: , , .

Five Reasons I Love Boston S’mores Rice Krispies

47 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Miss A  |  June 1, 2013 at 1:29 am

    Your ability and courage to address and openly discuss what you are and have gone through is amazing. The transition from home to college is an incredibly difficult one and you are most definitely not the first person to go through depression during this time. I also went through a similar period when I went to college. After several mishaps, we finally figured that I was bi-polar. You are so right to not have forced yourself into blogging, it would have ruined this sweet thing you have created and turned it into a burden.
    I found you via Pinterest and was so excited. I love your recipes, stories of home, and your photos. I have lived in western WA my whole life and relate to the voice that comes through your posts. I am so happy you have posted again, am impressed at your gifts, and I know that you will succeed- no matter what! Keep holding your head high and smiling. Welcome back! :-)

    “An arrow can only be shot by pulling it backward. So when life is dragging you back with difficulties, it means that it’s going to launch you into something great. So just focus, and keep aiming.”

  • 2. CS  |  June 1, 2013 at 3:42 am

    So good to hear from you. Life in college is hard, so you don’t have to explain. You’re finding your way, getting to know yourself and making careful choices. Just know that there are lots of people cheering for you and treasuring your posts when they arrive. No pressure. Enjoy the summer and your adventures in New York!

  • 3. plumful  |  June 1, 2013 at 6:56 am

    This was so brave and poignant Elissa. I’ve just been signed off from university after being diagnosed with depression, and I so admire your courage for carrying on. I can identify with your worries about the future, and sudden disinterest in everything, and I am struggling so much with trying to find the best way to carry on. I hope that you continue to find a little solace in this beautiful space that you have created, and I’ll continue to look forward to reading about the next stages in your life, whenever you’re ready to share them. Thank you for making me realise that I’m not alone in this. All my love.

  • 4. Jo Geanoules  |  June 1, 2013 at 6:58 am

    I am proud of you For sharing your story. Stay true to you, do what you are inspired to do (wether it’s baking, blogging and/ or taking pictures all day, everyday or whenever you have the time/energy). Life is hard. Ask for help when you need it. It’s there for you!

    Enjoy your summer!!! :)

    Ps- where in NY are you living? I live 20 minutes from the city (in jersey). I’m leaving soon to cut through the city to spend the weekend on long beach, ny. Check it out if you can – you can take the train right into long beach and they offer train and beach pass cd deals. It’s a short train ride and a beautiful beach (even after Sandy tore through it!) I’ll be in SoHo tonight for a rooftop party. Hello Summer!!!!


  • 5. caitlinmichelle5  |  June 1, 2013 at 9:06 am

    You’re an inspiration. Don’t ever stop doing whatever it is that makes you happy. You’re beautiful.

  • 6. Jessica  |  June 1, 2013 at 11:09 am

    Thank you for this. You are brave, beautiful and a baker. Enough said. Let realizing “potential” is somebody else’s worry. Someday you will look back and see how young 21 really is and how much you have continued to grow from here.

  • 7. Sarah  |  June 1, 2013 at 12:07 pm

    This was a beautiful post – thank you for sharing your story. Having just seen a close friend accept her diagnosis of depression after months of non-specific test results and long doctor’s appointments it is wonderful to see others embracing mental health issues without fear of shame or stigma. We have a long way to go before mental illness gets the recognition it deserves, and for sufferers to get the support from the community that they need, but this is a step in the right direction. Thank you again (and I love your blog and I knew you’d come back!)

  • 8. Michelle  |  June 1, 2013 at 3:57 pm

    How lovely it was to see your blog at the top of my feed today!

    I truly admire your courage in publishing this post, in putting yourself out there. As a graduate who has been working for 2 years, I’ve been through similar emotions before…and I will tell you that sometimes it doesn’t always get easier. But you have a community of support in the loved ones around you, and as others have already commented–reach out. The daily grind gets to all of us, but we have the choice in how to respond to it. You are already growing into that “potential,” and worrying about it won’t make it flourish any more. 21 is a beautiful time, but so is every age. I hope each day brings you wonder, growth, and joy.

    Also, these cookies look adorable and delicious. Glad that their disappearance was able to bring a smile to your face!

  • 9. Warm Vanilla Sugar (@wvanillasugar)  |  June 1, 2013 at 4:43 pm

    It makes me so happy to see you back on my feed! I figured you were taking your time, and am so glad to hear you’re working things out. I’m 25 now, and every year I become super different…I definitely understand why you took a step back – the change between 17 and 21 is INSANE! Hope to see more posts, and if not, we’ll be here when you get back :)

  • 10. Ellie W.  |  June 1, 2013 at 7:02 pm

    Oh so glad you posted on this wonderful blog. I’ve really never tried any of your recipes but I just love the way you express yourself. I love reading what you write. Your thoughts are so beautiful even this one expressing your inability to blog while you are away at college. Please make a note of that, your way of expressing yourself intrigues me. When you write your first book I’ll buy it. Yes, I’ll be here when you find another time to post, baking or not. It gives me joy to read what you wish to post. Be blessed, a fan since you were 17.

  • 11. Jason Culbreath  |  June 1, 2013 at 7:54 pm

    It is always such a pleasant surprise to get notifications of an update to your blog. I have been a fan for years now and love to read your stories. You write so well, with so much feeling, that it is very inspiring. Wishing you well in all your new endeavors.

    On a side note, just made these cookies tonight for after dinner treat and they were an amazing hit. The kids adored them! Unfortunately I did not have the same flavor jam (used strawberry), they were still delicious. Love the simplicity of this recipe. Thanks again!

  • 12. Margaret  |  June 1, 2013 at 9:12 pm

    What a difficult post to write–though you do it with such grace. Depression has this ineffable ability to permeate through all parts of your life, and it’s hard to pinpoint and therefore treat the problem. I found a post that, like yours, does a great job of describing it, though. You may get a kick out of the blogger as well:

  • 13. Alicia  |  June 2, 2013 at 6:11 am

    You are such a great writer, and wise beyond your years. I agree with everyone else that says they get excited to see a new blog post from you at the top of their feed. Thank you for sharing your story with the world. It touches more people than you know.

  • 14. Teresa W  |  June 2, 2013 at 7:09 am

    As I started reading your blog just now (which I was thrilled to see!), I didn’t get very far, before I was thinking, “She is suffering with some depression.” I have recently been battling it myself, and, oddly enough, the thing that brought it to my attention was when I stopped bringing out my camera. That is my way to connect with life, and nature, and I knew there was something going on. I chose to use a low dose anti-depressant and things are much better now.
    I am glad you wrote about your experience. You have many who read this that are your age and may experience the same thing without knowing what it is.
    Enjoy your internship in New York and your senior year. Be sure to get a little time at home. I am sure your parents knew something was going on and were worried about you. We have a sixth sense, you know!
    I can’t wait to read more and see more recipes. Have a great summer!

  • 15. Brigid Rumpf  |  June 2, 2013 at 7:41 am

    Elissa, Brava! I was thrilled to see your blog again in my email! I missed reading your thoughts and recipes ! You have done so much… school, traveling…moving across the country! Takes a lot of guts and of course for any of us melancholy can be on our journey as well! It seems to me that you are handling everything beautifully! New York is a great city… I live there and I grew up there…. There is no city like it… It has so much to offer! Good Luck to you Elissa! I look forward to hearing about your adventures in NYC! And recipes too of course!! :)

  • 16. Laura  |  June 2, 2013 at 2:53 pm

    So very good to hear from you again. And so very brave to let everything happen in its own time.

  • 17. catherinerose34  |  June 2, 2013 at 4:48 pm

    Reblogged this on The Broke Persons Guide to College Cooking and commented:
    Quick and simple recipe…looks delicious. Try it out!!

  • 18. Tina @ bitemeshowme  |  June 2, 2013 at 7:04 pm

    I was so touched by this post. Hiatus or not, you make such an impact on all your readers. xox

  • 19. meagan columbia  |  June 2, 2013 at 10:58 pm

    I was so excited to see you post!! You are incredibly brave to share your story.

  • 20. radhika25  |  June 3, 2013 at 5:04 am

    Welcome back Elissa. I’ve been thinking about you, missing your posts. Keep well, keep happy!

  • 21. Ashley Bee  |  June 3, 2013 at 8:53 am

    Glad you’re back :) I know how you feel, the fog. It’s hard to pull out of, but it’s totally normal. Can’t wait to read more of your journey :)

  • 22. Rosebriars  |  June 3, 2013 at 12:22 pm

    Wonderful to see a post from you again, it was a lovely surprise. It is wise to let things go when they no longer bring you joy, and pick them up again if it looks like they might. Glad to hear the fog is lifting; it can be very, very hard to get out of that. The wonderful news is that there are all kinds of different things that can help.

    On another note, I read a fascinating book years ago called Touched With Fire: Manic-Depressive Illness and the Artistic Temperament, which discusses some of the interesting connections between mental illness and art.

  • 23. Shelley  |  June 3, 2013 at 12:44 pm

    Thank you for sharing your struggle and know how completely normal it is – you are so not alone! Glad to hear you’re feeling better or starting to and thank you for sharing this delicious and easy sounding recipe! I think I’d like to break my own baking dry spell with these when I go home next weekend. :)

  • 24. Nicole  |  June 3, 2013 at 2:35 pm

    I can completely relate to how sucky depression is, how it can make you even more depressed to realize you’re depressed, how you wish you’d want to do something other than sleep, and how hard it can be to explain to those who don’t understand. The best advice I can give you is to remember that life is cyclical. You probably will have bad periods again, and you will have no real choice other than to ride through them, believing that there will be good again. And there will be good again, even if it doesn’t seem like it at the time. It’s really, really hard, and it’s really, really scary, but life is worth it.

    If you share my same sense of humor, you might find this comic oddly reassuring and hopeful:

  • 25. Rose  |  June 4, 2013 at 12:13 pm

    Hang in there!

  • 26. rc  |  June 5, 2013 at 10:42 am

    So glad to see you back in my feed. Depression is a hard thing to go through. Not many understand it but many suffer from it. Odd and complex. Keep writing. We all love reading your words and maybe the feedback you get will help lift you out of your fog. :)

  • 27. A Little Claireification  |  June 5, 2013 at 4:20 pm

    I just found you on TasteSpotting and first… these cookies look amazing. I have been blogging for 8.5 months and my photography has certainly come a long way but so much to learn and I am so impressed that you have been at it since 17.
    Second, I just mentioned in a FB group last night that this week I just feel “blah”. It’s like blogging {and life} paralysis. I am so incredibly proud of you for sharing your thoughts on depression. I think we all go through slumps and most people don’t want to identify it as depression but I know I have been there and “a fog” is such a great description. And you’re right… it is terrifying sometimes. Very glad to have found your blog. Going to go “stalk” you on all social media now too. :)
    We are in Florida but my Hubs is from Boston, born and raised, so we are up there quite a bit and hopefully the warmer weather will help cheer you up too because I know that winter can be pretty darn bleak sometimes!
    xoxo – Claire @ A Little CLAIREification

  • 28. Sarah from Ireland  |  June 7, 2013 at 3:19 pm

    Well done for being so brave and sharing this! I’ve experienced depression before, and it was worst during my junior year too! I’ve just finished my senior year and a fully qualified speech and language pathologist, so it does get better! I found baking really helped me to cope, I found it calming that I was able to follow recipes and create something yummy, and I actually found your blog while I was looking for something new to bake to cheer myself up! This is one of my favourite books, written by an Irish novelist who began baking as a way to cope with severe depression, if you’re looking for something new I would highly recommend it!

  • 29. mammalfish  |  June 9, 2013 at 9:38 am

    Elissa! =) We’ve all been waiting patiently to hear from you again, and I’m so incredibly glad that you’re feeling a bit better. I don’t know if this will be a comfort to you, but when I was a junior in college it seemed to me that every woman around me my age who I loved and respected was describing exactly the feelings you feel. Sometimes it felt like I was the only one the depression bug wasn’t getting, but I’m a daughter of two mental health professionals and I had a lot of support. Watching this happen to so many people our age begs a conclusion that it’s something about the age, maybe our generation, maybe junior year in leading, academically rigorous colleges–and it totally sucks, but I’ve seen each of my friends adjust and come back to themselves, especially towards the end of senior year. This is the time we’re becoming adults, and it totally throws all of us because no one expects the amount of adjustment that entails. I know that you will be fine. You approach your life with such incredible humility and openness. Know in your heart that you will grow, and it will pass.

  • 30. Tara  |  June 10, 2013 at 12:54 pm

    I know what it’s like to be sad, and not have any desire to do anything, or feel like no one understands you. I’m glad that you are feeling better, and back in the kitchen baking. Just take it one day at a time….it’ll get better :)

  • 31. Michelle  |  June 10, 2013 at 2:52 pm

    I immediately recognized where you were leading to, and you wrote it in a beautiful, non-judgemental way. Once I acknowledged my depression it was easier to start to see how it was affecting me. Personally, I found CBT (essentially re-training your mind) to help a lot. Not much can be done in the winter though, at least for me. Thank you for sharing and having the courage to discuss your thoughts.

  • 32. melissa daams  |  June 11, 2013 at 8:21 am

    Sometimes there are just different things going on in our lives and we just need to take a break from things we once loved. I love blogging too but I’m pretty busy with a new arrival (my 4th child) so it doesn’t happen so often. I also love, love, love painting and crochet but I just don’t have time for it. Try not to beat yourself up too much about it – you can always return to blogging and photography if and when you want to. I’m just thankful that you aren’t one of those people that’s like, i’m not having a blog anymore and then deletes the blog and I’m like, oh crap, I never printed out those recipes, i just bookmarked them… why on earth would someone delete their blog… so good thing you aren’t crazy like that!

  • 33. Caroline  |  June 14, 2013 at 10:00 pm

    We all have low periods in life. It’s what makes the high points stand out. Sometimes though the highs points are so high that the low ones feel so overwhelming. I learned that when I was studying abroad. And when I came home I just kept to myself. I came up with excuses not to go out, things that had to be done at home, and other reasons not to see people who had previously been a huge part of my life. After a while people stopped pushing for me to do things or asking me to hang out. I lost myself for a while. When I realized what had happened, I pushed myself to step out of my suddenly small comfort zone. It’s been two years, and some days I still have to push hard to do things. I’ve blended those two versions of me, trying to find a balance between the girl who wants to go out and spend time with her friends, and the girl who just wants to stay home and knit. Things will get better. In the meantime, it’s wonderful that you’re writing again and feeling better. Welcome back. You’ve been missed and I can’t wait to see how you’ve changed. :)

  • 34. Denise  |  June 17, 2013 at 9:43 pm

    I can’t tell you how happy I am to read a new post from you. For what it’s worth, your words inspire me. So instead of just browsing through the photos, I actually do read what you write. It makes me feel better to know that in some other part of the world, someone out there is muddling through adulthood just like I am and paving their own way through all the second-guessing. We’ll realize our purpose, let’s just enjoy the journey for now. :)

  • 35. helenohiggins  |  June 25, 2013 at 6:34 pm

    I was so glad to see that you’d posted again. I felt quite certain that you hadn’t forgotten your blog, rather that you were, as you said, growing and changing and experiencing things that so many people do, particularly while at college. I think that it is only when you experience depression, or an extended period of low mood that you discover quite how many people have, or are, experiencing similar things. When you get to the point when you are a little more open about what you are experiencing, there’s a great sense of relief that you’re not alone and that there is so much support in others.

    I was an avid baker. I couldn’t get enough of it. Quite suddenly though, I began to feel extreme anxiety. I lost my appetite. I couldn’t stomach food and lost all taste for life. I dropped to 84 Lbs, so I was physically in pretty poor shape, but mainly for me, the problem was not that eating caused me to feel nauseous, but the detachment I felt from everyone and everything. It’s so easy to let yourself believe that you’ll never get past the dark place that you’re in. I am almost thankful to have experienced the frightful lows that I did, just so I could learn that overcoming these lows is possible and so that when I experience sadness in the future (which is inevitable and normal), I’ll know that this is a feeling that is manageable and will pass and make was for better and brighter times. I am happy for that and I am happy in general.

    Every so often, I’d check on your blog to see if you’d posted. I knew you would eventually. I checked today to see that there are three new posts, so I’ve started at the first of the three and am looking forward to reading the next two more recent ones.

    You may not read down this far in my comment, I know it’s very long (!) but I hope you know that there are many people around the world who know you and wish and hope for you and who care how you’re feeling. I do feel that from reading this blog for years, that I know you, as this blog was and still is a part of you. Even the fact that it’s been a while since you’ve blogged reflects you and your life. So even when you’re not here, in some way, you’re still present. And I’m glad.

  • 36. Jessica Ewen Kahan  |  June 29, 2013 at 1:14 pm

    I love reading your blogs, Elissa, and I am thrilled that you have started writing again! You are an AWESOME writer, and ” helenohiggins” spoke the truth, in her poignant commentary, that “many people …..wish and hope for you and ….care how you’re feeling. I am one of those people, and I am so proud of you and love you very much as the “daughter” I never had! Also, you are making my taste buds work overtime… YUMMMMMMM!

  • 37. Pip  |  July 3, 2013 at 6:31 pm

    Glad to see you’re back! One of the worst things about depression is when you realize what you’re missing, the Time it’s stolen from you. But coming out of it is like spring and everything feels fresh. I’m glad to hear you are winning the battle and finding happiness in the things you used to, again.

  • 38. Grace  |  July 7, 2013 at 1:21 am

    You’re an amazing writer. I hope you continue the blog!

  • 39. Cocoa Meringues | 17 and Baking  |  July 18, 2013 at 6:38 pm

    […] was around that fall I first realized something was different. Looking back I know it was depression settling in, but at the time, it was happening so slowly I hadn’t really […]

  • 40. Deborah  |  September 19, 2013 at 4:16 am

    I too suffer from depression. Sounds like you’re feeling a little better. I wish there wasn’t such a stigma attached to this disease.

  • 41. Rachel  |  October 22, 2013 at 9:59 pm

    Thank you so much for writing this. I’ve been struggling with depression on and off since middle school. In the middle of college I thought that I had finally “beat” it…but then, right around the time when I graduated from college, went on a huge trip to Europe and got engaged, it started to creep back in again…even though everyone else would have thought that I was on top of the world. Right now I’m sort of where you’re at. I’m not lying on the bathroom floor crying, but I’m stuck in a rut and I can’t figure out how to get out of it. Sure, I could always go for antidepressants and therapy, but in the end self love is the only true medicine for depression. Self love, and realizing that although depression makes you feel out of control, happiness is a choice. I once had a friend who told me that I can take back the “remote control” and change the channel to something happier at any time. It seems like a callous remark when you’re in the throes of depression, and I was mad at her when she said that to me. But she was actually right, and it honestly worked when I put some effort into doing the things I loved again. So I think that now, I will resolve to get back into that mindset and CHOOSE to be happy, even though it will be really hard and I probably won’t get it right the first time. I hope that you will appreciate some of those ideas too! I will be reading your blog and supporting you.

  • 42. Cocoa Meringues | VIVIMETALIUN  |  December 5, 2013 at 8:30 am

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Elissa Bernstein

I'm Elissa: a 17 (now 21) year old baker in Seattle Boston juggling creative nonfiction workshops, subway maps, and my passions for writing, baking, and photography. Photo above © Michelle Moore

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