22 April 2012

Why Do I Enjoy Baking?

My cousin has been taking a wonderful nostalgia trip on Facebook. I love reading her posts and drifting along the river of memories with her. She really paints a vivid picture and is great at bringing back memories of days gone by. I, on the other hand, have a very poor memory. Most folks can give you incredible detail about their life. Not me. My memory has never worked quite right. It saddens me at times, but it is what it is. As a result, I find myself hanging onto the memories I do have. And it's amazing how intense they can be when triggered. And it's interesting how many of them are triggered by music and aromas.

For instance, my Mama enjoyed the smell of vanilla. She would burn vanilla scented candle throughout the house. To this day, the scent of vanilla as I bake brings up pleasant memories of Mama. I've found myself introducing my Mama to my daughter as I bake. I'll tell her how my Mama made such rich, buttery sugar cookies and soft, chewy molasses cookies. Or tell her how Mama made dozens and dozens of sugar cookies every Christmas and let us kids decorate them. And her bread! Oh my, Mama could make some good bread. Slather some butter on a thick slice and you have a great comfort snack.

And I think that's why I enjoy baking so much. It's a way of connecting with my family, past and present. As I make my own bread, I can see Mama in the kitchen, listening to golden oldies and kneading the dough. My style is different, and so is the end product, but the connection is still their. As soon as I take out the wheat grinder or the stand mixer, my Princess comes running into the kitchen. She's my big helper. She makes sure I don't forget anything. Some mornings, as I'm stumbling around trying to finish a cup of coffee and gather up the ingredients for biscuits or pancakes, Princess is right behind me telling me what I need to get next. Then she goes and gets her ladder and sets it up in the corner by my work counter, where she can be ready to scrape the butter into the bowl and then pour in the milk. I couldn't do it without her. And of course, she taste tests everything to make sure I have it right. Well, except for the carrot cake I tried out last weekend. After it was baked, she agreed with Sweetheart that it was the best carrot cake she ever had, but when it was just batter, she said, "Oooh, it's slimy!" I must admit, it was the nastiest looking cake batter I've ever seen, but it made a darn good cake!

There's a connection to baking through my wife, as well. When we started planning how to handle birthdays, she got this light in her eyes and told me how her Mom had baked all of their birthday cakes. Nothing fancy, just a box mix and frosting, but SHE made those cakes, and to this day it's one of Sweetheart's fondest memories. So I set the goal of baking all of the celebration cakes for my family. Everything from Jesus' birthday cake to anniversaries. In just a couple of years, it's become our tradition. And that makes me feel very good. Our family is young, but it's tied together with traditions created in love.

Love and food. Mmmm. And that's why I enjoy baking so much.

And that's also why Sweetheart has me on a diet.