My mother was an amazing baker. She used to whip up cookies, squares and cakes that made you weep for joy. Amazingly, she more or less taught herself to bake after her own mother died in childhood. When my mom died six years ago, I realized that I had learned almost nothing from her in the kitchen. I felt an incredible sense of loss about that fact, and so in the ensuing years I have set about trying to teach myself how to bake using her tattered recipe cards and books.
I have found that baking now brings me a lot of joy, and I feel very close to my mom when I am in the kitchen. I inherited most of her baking implements, books and recipes. Whenever I am feeling overwhelmed with life, I love opening up the recipe box and digging through her cards and whipping up a batch of cookies.
When I had kids, I decided that I wanted to orient them with the kitchen, and teach them the basics that I lacked when I got married. My older son started baking with me when he was two, and my younger son was also about the same age. Now they are (almost) 6 and 3, and they both love helping me bake cookies.
Today, after looking at the bare cabinets, I decided to bake some good old chocolate chip cookies. I use the same recipe that I have used all along, the one printed on the back of the package of Nestle Toll House Chocolate Chips (I have to buy these in the U.S.). Both boys get a chair and sidle up to the counter, and they take turns pouring ingredients into the bowl. My older son James has been taught how to use the stand mixer, and so he gets to operate the Kitchen Aid, under my supervision. They like helping out Mommy, it just gets a little stressful when they are arguing whose turn it is to pour the next ingredient!
Then, the interminable wait for the cookies begins! Both boys were anxiously waiting for all the batter to be transferred to the cookie sheets so that they could lick the bowl. And my little puppy Daisy was patiently waiting at my feet, hoping for a stray piece of batter to fall to the floor. The end result was good, a yummy batch of chocolate chip cookies, and a great morning spent together in the kitchen.