I enjoy baking more than crafts, but that doesn’t mean I do it often.
When I do bake, I tend to use my mom’s recipes, most of which come from her mother. I love my grandma’s recipes. They’re Depression-era farm recipes, which means they’re easy and economical and contain no bizarre ingredients like Cream of Tartar or Bourbon Vanilla Beans from Madagascar.
Plus, baking Grandma’s cakes and cookies brings me back to lazy summer afternoons in her farmhouse, where she and my mom would drink tea in the living room. My grandma would sit at one end of the couch, and I’d stretch out, put my head on her lap, and let her play with my hair while she and Mom talked easily. With my belly full of cookies, I’d lay still, afraid to move lest the moment end. Decades later, as I remember myself reclining on Grandma’s lap, I can almost feel the vibrations of her speaking.
Most of my grandma’s recipes only list ingredients and amounts; instructions are given rarely. Here is one of my favourites:
Last week, when we had no fresh food in our house, I decided to bake. I pulled out Grandma’s Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies recipe. It’s my favourite and it’s simple. In our bare fridge and pantry, we had all the ingredients.
I enlisted Twitter’s help on how to instantly soften a granite chunk of brown sugar, something Grandma would have known.
Then Vivian, William, and I began to bake.
We stirred, added, mixed, scraped. We ate chocolate chips. We spilled, laughed, spilled again. We rolled and got sticky.
Then we baked. William turned on the oven light so he could watch the magic. He needs no time lapse photography, only time.
Vivian kept stirring the remaining batter.
And then came that moment, the one that hangs there.
The bowl. The batter. The tile floor. The smash. The glass. The shards. The screams.
The comforting and the cleaning.
After I put the vacuum away, I removed my shoes and socks. I walked over the floor, feeling for missed shards, lazy barefoot steps once taken by my mom and grandma.