Sunday, October 16, 2016

Celebrate the Art of Baking

It's time to take out the mixing bowls, secret ingredients, and chocolate to honor a four-generation tradition. I'm celebrating the art of baking that has provided many joyful hours of bonding with family members. This week I shared my love of baking with my son who pleasantly surprised me when he agreed to bake with me on his day off. 

Baking time is a family tradition that was introduced to me when I was a little girl. My grandmother spent hours baking and cooking every week. It was her gift to her family so when visiting each summer, I was her constant companion. Nonnie amazed me with the way she kneaded her dough on a huge wooden board dusted with flour. The kitchen filled with sweet smells as batches of cookies were placed in the oven. Then, there were the tasting tests that I mastered with ease. I watched; I learned; I tried to memorize each move. Nothing was written down or placed in a recipe box because Nonnie could not read or write in English. Her brilliance as a baker was well-known in her community and even honored at one time. Her honey dolls were unique, large, flat doll-like formations with little silver beads for decorations. They were carefully stored in a huge, dark closet until unwrapped for consumption. There were many other one of a kind delicious iced and plain cookies made with mincemeat, anise, and vanilla. Since there were no photographs of these creations, I have committed them to memory and never have forgotten the large trays of Italian cookies that my Nonnie made for my wedding. 

I also watched with delight my mother who honored the family tradition and became an excellent baker. She was known for her exceptional celebration cakes that were artfully decorated. All requests were honored. Each birthday or special occasion marked a newly created custom-baked cake from Grandma Kay's kitchen. Beside the family, neighborhood children and adults enjoyed my mother's cakes and cookies. 

Both my grandmother and mother were artistic bakers and should have opened a bakery with the talent they had. For years, I watched both create edible delicacies. Then, there came a day when my mother decided it was more peaceful to bake alone after all were asleep. She said it was her quiet time. I recall the scurry of little feet running to the baking site the morning after baking. There were lots of oohs and aahs over the beautifully decorated cake that could range from a a little princess fantasy to a sports-related theme. Cookies were snatched as the tasting tests began. 

Growing up among creative bakers gave me inspiration to share my love of baking not only with my family but with friends. This week when my son said yes to baking, I smiled and jumped right into the process with him at my side. 

For me, baking is fun with a sidekick and that's where my son comes in. He has become an excellent baking assistant who not only helps out with the baking when the timing is right but also cleans up my giant messes. Life is good when fresh baked goods appear in my kitchen. I honor this family tradition and look forward to the next bite.

I join Ruth Ayres and the Celebrate This Week community to find the positives of life to celebrate each week. Please travel over to Ruth Ayres Writes to read Ruth's inspirational post.

Post-Note: I just heard good news from my sister. My uncle stored my grandmother's large wooden baking boards. They are to be sanded and finished with linseed oil to remember the fine art of baking that has been our time-honored family tradition.

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