Nana's Belly Button Cookies

One of my fondest memories growing up was visiting Nana and Bupa, my mother's parents. I remember sitting in Nana's pine tree and sap scented kitchen, sipping a tall glass of tonic (her name for soda).  She always sat with me, feeding me Belly Button cookies and stories from her childhood - tales of her epic feuds with her brother and the many different ways she tried to give herself dimples.

Bupa, comfortably enthroned in his large red recliner in the living room, would often shout in at us his own explanation of events in a muddled Swedish accent. Most often, the differences in recollection would resolve themselves with Nana comically rolling her eyes at me and proclaiming, "Well, you can tell a Swede, but you can't tell him much", and donning a Swedish flag pin with a similar saying.

Regardless, tall or not, the tales grew on me and I never got tired of hearing them. Nana and Bupa painted a world for me that was much simpler and more colorful.

Even though Nana and Bupa have passed on, the tales and memories they shared still comfort me.  When the stress of normal life overwhelms me, I make a batch of Nana's Belly Button cookies. They bring me back to the simpler and more colorful world in Nana's stories.

I take great comfort in these simple sweets - they are, to me, the ultimate in comfort food.

[caption id="image_50" align="aligncenter" width="950" caption="Hasselblad 503cw with 180mm f3.5 and a #16 tube; Imacon Ixpress v96c back; natural light camera left"]Hasselblad 503cw with 180mm f3.5 and a #16 tube; Imacon Ixpress v96c back; natural light camera left[/caption]

It's said that Stahl's bakery in Michigan holds the original concept for the Belly Button cookie. Personally, I don't see where the belly button reference came from. I think Nana's recipe nails it on the head.

Nana's Belly Button cookies are really just chocolate chip cookies with an M&M pressed into the middle to imitate a belly button.  Simple, colorful and memorable, especially to a 10 year old kid.

Personally, I always eat around the M&M and save it for the grand finish, and then wash it all down with a glass of milk . . . or a glass of tonic.

[caption id="image_42" align="aligncenter" width="950" caption="Hasselblad 503cw with 80mm f2.8 and a #16 tube; Imacon Ixpress v96c back; natural light opposite camera; strobe behind camera for fill"]Hasselblad 503cw with 80mm f2.8 and a #16 tube; Imacon Ixpress v96c back; natural light opposite camera; strobe behind camera for fill[/caption]

[caption id="image_54" align="aligncenter" width="950" caption="Hasselblad 503cw with 80mm f2.8 and a #16 tube; Imacon Ixpress v96c back; natural light opposite camera; strobe behind camera for fill"]Hasselblad 503cw with 80mm f2.8 and a #16 tube; Imacon Ixpress v96c back; natural light opposite camera; strobe behind camera for fill[/caption]

[caption id="image_55" align="aligncenter" width="950" caption="Hasselblad 503cw with 80mm f2.8 and a #16 tube; Imacon Ixpress v96c back; natural light from window; strobe behind camera for fill"]Hasselblad 503cw with 80mm f2.8 and a #16 tube; Imacon Ixpress v96c back; natural light from window; strobe behind camera for fill[/caption]

[caption id="image_56" align="aligncenter" width="950" caption="Hasselblad 503cw with 80mm f2.8 and a #16 tube; Imacon Ixpress v96c back; natural light from window; strobe behind camera for fill"]Hasselblad 503cw with 80mm f2.8 and a #16 tube; Imacon Ixpress v96c back; natural light from window; strobe behind camera for fill[/caption]

[caption id="image_52" align="aligncenter" width="700" caption="Hasselblad 503cw with 180mm f3.5 and a #16 tube; Imacon Ixpress v96c back; natural light through diffusion material camera left"]Hasselblad 503cw with 180mm f3.5 and a #16 tube; Imacon Ixpress v96c back; natural light through diffusion material camera left[/caption]