Food For Thought What Not To Say

lemon thyme madelaines

Lemon Thyme Madeleines

Does your mouth ever work faster than your brain? The words cause “a stir”. Too late to take them back the inevitable pain and confusion is regrettable. It takes courage to own the wrong and recognize the only appropriate response: “I’m sorry”.
Addressing someone who is in mourning is always difficult. The right words are often hard to come by. The truth is there is nothing you can say to make the bereaved person feel better. When in doubt about what to say a simple, heartfelt, “I’m sorry” is all that’s needed along with the touch of a hand or a hug….make that a big bear hug, please!
Here are a few examples of WHAT NOT TO SAY. These cliches can do more harm than good.
  • He’s in a better place   (nope–alive and well next to me is a much better place)
  • Heaven needed an angel  (nope–I need him/her here)
  • Be brave  (nope–I need to experience this pain if I am ever going to be normal again)
  • God has a plan  (nope–we had plans, too)

madeleine pan

Here is more food for thought. Madeleines. Don’t call them cookies. In certain company you will regret calling them that as they really are a little bite of heavenly buttery cake. They can be sweet or savory. Lemons are very inexpensive this time of year and a sure sign of spring. A staple in my kitchen, lemon is one of my favorite flavors. Fresh and tart it adds balance to any dish and wakes up your taste buds. Next time you want to comfort someone set out a plate of these lemon thyme madeleines. You won’t have to say a word.


like a delicate bite of poundcake

Lemon Thyme Madeleines

  • Servings: 3 to 4 dozen small or 2 dozen large
  • Print

½ cup cake flour*

¼ teaspoon salt (use fine sea salt or table salt not kosher salt)

1/8-teaspoon cream of tartar

¼ cup sugar

½ tablespoon chopped fresh thyme leaves

Grated zest of ½ lemon

3 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened

2 oz cream cheese, softened

2 eggs

1-teaspoon fresh lemon juice

Powdered sugar

Heat oven 375F. Spray the molds of a 12 to 20-piece madeleine pan with no-stick baking spray. In small bowl, whisk flour, salt and cream of tartar; set aside. In food processor, pulse sugar, thyme and zest until uniform. In a medium bowl, beat butter and cream cheese until light and creamy. Add sugar mixture; blend well. Add eggs and lemon juice: blend well. Add flour mixture; mix just until blended. Spoon batter into molds until even with rims. Tap pan a few times to level the batter. Bake 8 to 10 minutes for small madeleines (10 to 12 minutes for larger ones) or until edges are just golden brown and cakes feel firm when touched with the tip of your finger. Immediately invert madeleines on to a cooling rack. Cool pan before repeating with remaining batter. Cool madeleines completely before dusting with powdered sugar.

* To make cake flour: measure out ½ cup of all purpose flour then remove 1 tablespoon of flour from that half cup and return it to the flour sack. Add 1 tablespoon of cornstarch to your measured flour, whisk and presto you now have cake flour.

10 thoughts on “Food For Thought What Not To Say

  1. These are gorgeous and so are you (and your advice)!! I never know what to say to someone grieving, maybe the best thing for me is to just give them a big hug!!! Sending you some…

  2. Wow! T
    hat is a beautiful post, Lisa. I always thought “Im sorry” was never enough. So no doubt some of those clichés you mention have passed my lips. Now I know to keep it simple. Hugs go without saying. Thinking of you with Peace and Hope…

    • Thanks for the compliments. It is just to hard to know what is in the mind of the griever so a simple “sorry” is the best bet.

  3. After Meghan’s death, the words that ironically carried the most meaning and emotional weight with me was the simple phrase (one I heard over and over, always accompanied by a blessed embrace): “There are no words.” Indeed … they are simply but profoundly true. How else to describe the indescribable?

    “How are you doing?” was the one question I initially stumbled over when I tried to come up with a response … Did the person asking really want or need to hear the full truth? Of course not. Eventually I came up with the simple but true, “I am hanging in there.”

    I recently had a conversation with someone who hadn’t sent a note to someone in the first few weeks following a child’s death and felt it was too late to do so. I told her it was never too late, that the parents’ grief doesn’t end, and that a card with a simple message of “I am still thinking of you” can do wonders, especially if the parents are aware that the rest of the world is beginning to move on, but that they themselves are still grieving.

    A parent’s grief evolves, but it does not end; there is no expiration date on the loss of a child.

    • Great words of wisdom from one who knows. I absolutely agree with the very awkward “how are you doing” or “how are you holding up”—no one wants the real answer

      Thanks for posting today. You have enhanced the information 100%!

  4. I recently read a story about a woman who worked with a young mother who had tragically lost a son. She came to the door one day and hugged the mom uttering the words “I am so sorry. I thought you might need a walk and I’d like to know more about him, what was he like?”
    This struck me as a lovely gesture that embraced the life of the child rather than the loss.

  5. Thank you, Riverdaze, for this most important post. I love nothing more than the company of someone who wants to learn more about my son. It is the most loving gesture.

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