I love to bake.
Baking is my first go-to when someone needs love and care. I immediately offer up homemade food.
It’s what I want to celebrate with: Baked goods!
It’s how I want to socialize: A cup of coffee and a freshly made pie.
I am completely content and happy to wake up on a Saturday or Sunday morning in the winter, take up residency in my kitchen for the morning, and bake. I turn on some quiet music, pour myself a cup of hot coffee, and start in.
Pausing only to visit with whoever passes through the kitchen or stopping to make one of the kids an egg sandwich before they head to the farm. Baking equals happy times for me.
One of the things that is so special about baking is that it keeps me close to the women in my life: Those who are still present and those who have passed. Gosh, I miss them so much.
Through their recipes, I stay connected with them.
My recipe box is like a unique quilt pattern. Its squares are uniquely made up of the recipes I have collected over my life from special people.
Sewn by the women who helped create the foundation of my life and those who briefly passed through and left their recipe. They are all special to me.
No two recipe boxes are the same. They are comprised of different shaped, colored, and patterned recipe cards. Some are beautifully hand-written, others you can barely make out what the ingredients are because they were written down in such haste. Some recipes are well-worn with cooking oil or chocolate smudged on them, faded with tattered corners and even a tear or two. Others are written across a notebook paper and folded awkwardly to fit into the box.
Sometimes, when in a rush, it’s a bit frustrating to have to thumb through a stack of recipe cards (the regularly used ones) or flip through the recipe box, which is a chucker block full of recipes I haven’t made in decades. Truly!
And when I think there has to be a better way to put these into a filing system, I stop.
Thumbing through is how I see the handwriting of my grandmothers, sisters, mother, old neighbors, good friends, and even a teacher or two. Cousins, aunts, and my in-laws, I can’t think of one sector that isn’t represented in that wooden box with blueberries painted on the top.
It warms my heart to remember all of them… or my bridal shower, where I was given quite a few. The picnics and parties I have attended over the years, where I had an amazing cookie or pie. I loved the taste so much that I had to get the recipe!
It comforts me to know that on any given Saturday night, Grammie’s Chocolate Cake sits at the kitchen table of one of my relatives on my mother’s side of the family. Pleasantly topping off the Saturday night supper tradition of baked beans, hot dogs, and homemade biscuits with mum’s strawberry jam. I can smell it, taste it, and feel it. That chocolate cake recipe brings back so many warm memories.
Those recipes conjure up thoughts of my grandmother and great-aunt. What I wouldn’t give to sit down with the two of them, as the 49-year-old woman I am today, and talk. Really talk about all those things that I was too young to understand way back when.
All of those recipes represent the special relationships that brought them to me. And within lie all the secrets to a joyful life- listed out one ingredient at a time.
With love, on this gray January day,