Baking is a form of active meditation for me. When life gets stressful and overwhelming, I often head to the kitchen to calm my nerves and create something delicious in the process.
I started out as an assistant baker when I was still a toddler. My mom would set me up on the counter next to her workspace, so I could help her to measure ingredients and watch her skillfully mix them by hand. She did not have or use any special equipment. She had her hands and a large, green, Tupperware mixing bowl.
I LOVED that bowl. That bowl symbolized love. It was simple and utilitarian. My mom used it for everything amazing and delicious that she baked. It was her bread bowl, cookie bowl, pie dough bowl, muffin bowl and cake bowl. That bowl also served potato salad and Halloween candy. It even held the batter for her famous blueberry pancakes. I find it almost funny now that I still think about that bowl.
Baking with my mom helped me appreciate her patience. Maybe more importantly, I recognized the love that she infused into her baking and importance that her baked goods played in nurturing not only my body, but also my soul. Her loving influence, expressed through baking, goes far beyond me and my family. She has touched many lives and brightened many days.
To this day, people share accolades about her blueberry pie, funeral cake (a pumpkin cake that she often brings to funerals), and oatmeal muffins that she bakes using her mother’s recipe. Childhood friends ask me if she is still baking that “amazing molasses bread”.
I am very thankful that my mom made it a priority to share her passion with me. I vividly remember forming cookies in my tiny hands, striving to match her perfection. I felt extra-special when she would let me use my thumb to make an indentation for jam, insisting that each one be exactly the same. My mom guided me, often revealing her “secrets” as pointers and tips.
Living by my mother’s example, I started baking with my daughters when they were very young. These moments with my girls are ones that I cherish. It was time for us to connect. We talked. We laughed. I told stories about baking with my mom. This simple act strengthened our direct bond and multi-generational relationships. Despite the fact that I do not have my mom’s patience or skill, both of my girls have turned out to be capable bakers, finding joy in the kitchen.
Like my mother before me and her mother before her, I find joy in baking. My friends and family find joy in my baking too. They can taste the love. Each bite holds within it generations of traditions and lifetimes of memories.
Kitty’s Small Batch Peanut Butter Cookies
½ cup butter, room temperature
½ cup fresh ground peanut butter
½ cup of sugar
½ cup brown sugar
1 egg, room temperature
1 ¼ cup flour
½ teaspoon baking powder
¾ teaspoon baking soda
¼ teaspoon salt
Form dough into balls about ¾ inch in diameter. Roll balls in sugar and place on a parchment-lined baking sheet. Use a fork to make a crisscross pattern and slightly flatten the cookie. Bake at 375 degrees for 10-12 minutes. Take care to not overbake.