Saturday was baking day growing up in my home. As far back as I can remember, my mom would have bread, rolls, and cinnamon rolls (my favorite) rising for hours by our wood stove. I loved all her breads, but Saturdays became even better when she offered her kitchen-aid mixer to me one day. It was so nonchalant “I’m done with the mixer Reece, do you want to make something?” I remember being so excited but also overwhelmed by the possibilities. When I told her I didn’t know what to make, she suggested that I make some cookies for my dad’s lunches. She left me to it, and my life was changed! From that point on I would wait anxiously for her to let me know when she was done with the mixer “it’s already dirty, might as well use it”.
Oatmeal chocolate chip cookies and toffee bars were a few of my staples those early years, but I soon discovered the joy in reading recipes just to read them, and began to feel confident enough to try a few new techniques. My moms Better Homes and Garden’s Cookbook (you know…the red and black checkered one that we all have) was my favorite, and finding the candy section was like finding a childhood hidden treasure. I had enjoyed my Grandmama’s homemade divinity for years, and now I could learn to make these amazing treats too! Almond brittle was the first candy that I mastered (my dad is very allergic to peanuts)…with my mother showing me how to judge the syrup stage using the cold water test.
Maybe I was just in my own little world, but I really don’t remember hovering parents during this time of learning and playing in the kitchen. My mom was around enough to throw out a few helpful tips, or assist during a crisis, but mostly seemed busy with her own projects. I was never lectured about making a mess or wasting ingredients and always felt very free in the kitchen. Which is probably why I got in a flour fight with my best friend in high school, but never again…not after having to clean up our own mess. They don’t show that part in the movies!
Now I am a wife and a mother of a two-year old son, and I still love to play in the kitchen. I can’t say which I prefer more: baking or making confections. I do know that I bake more, but that’s mostly because I can’t be eating candy all the time! It’s bad enough with the cake phase that hits me every now and then. My husband also enjoys spending time in the kitchen, and I am very spoiled with his elaborate dinners. Sauces and meats are his specialties. Perhaps my inclination for the kitchen is also influencing my son, because he seems to gravitate to that room of the house as well. The floor is usually littered with toys and books, and he usually camps out right in the middle of the floor. Alternating between reading with him and telling him what I am working on makes for a pretty perfect afternoon!