My grandmother was an avid baker, according to my mom.
She passed away when I was young, so I never had the honour of baking with her, but my mom has told me about how much she loved baking — and how good at it she was.
Going through our kitchen and the bookshelf, there are tons of cookbooks, some my grandmother acquired and some she made herself with recipes she created or picked up along the way.
Cookies, cakes, confections. You name it, she baked it. She has everyday baked goods, Christmas baked goods, and Easter baked goods. Baked goods for the family, baked goods for close friends, and baked goods for fancy dinner parties.
To this day, I don’t believe I’ve read through all of her cookbooks. My mom and I have baked a fair amount of goods from the books — my mom even more so than me, of course — but whenever you think you’ve hit the end, there’s always more goods to bake.
One of our favourite recipes to make is her ‘Wacky Cake’, which got its name from the fact that it’s all made in one pan and uses no eggs or milk — so essentially a modern day vegan cake.
It was always fun to make with the one-pan design, too, because my mom would make it into a bit of a game, putting all the dry ingredients in and mixing them together and digging two holes at opposite corners of the pan.
From there, she’d make a trench down the middle, between the two holes. Then, we’d take the liquid ingredients, oil and vanilla and such, and put one in one of the holes, one in the other, then countdown, open the trench and connect them.
Okay, so, as I’m writing this, it sounds dumb. But trust me, as a kid, this was peak entertainment when mum was baking. That, and licking the spoon, of course.
Over the years I’ve become more of a baker, myself. Not in any sort of professional way, but in a relaxing hobby sort of way. Baking when stressed, for gifts for friends, because I’m bored, etc. Nothing competitive or that’s going to be shown anywhere, but purely for my own and sometimes others’ enjoyment.
I sometimes wish I were more creative and artistic, and could do cool designs and tricks with my baking — like my cousin. My cousin when to school for baking and pastry arts and she is incredibly talented with her baked goods. I’m sure my grandmother would be so proud to see her baking legacy continued.
Maybe someday I’ll be at that level of pastry design, but for now I’m happy just baking for fun. There’s nothing better than baking on a cold winter’s day, having the sweet smells fill the house and eating warm cookies or cakes or confections straight from the oven.
And now I’m craving freshly-baked cookies, so maybe I’ve just found my plan for this evening! My grandmother’s gingerbread is one of my personal favourites, especially around Christmas, and I love feeling like I’m getting closer to her, too, simply through baking the same cookies that she once baked.
It’s funny how the little things remind us of past people and memories and bring us closer to them. And hey, if the little things also get you homemade cookies as part of the deal, that sounds good to me.
— Clare Rayment, Kitimat Northern Sentinel editor