Along with teaching me about the great outdoors and all about the creatures that live in it and giving me a love for reading, my Ma taught me how to bake.
When I was in the second grade, she started teaching me. The first thing I remember that we made together was “Fruity Cheerios.”
The recipe, from Cooks.com. is as follows:
This process held the heady excitement of being able to stir hot, bubbling liquid on our gas stove. Being that close to an open flame was thrilling for second-grade me. It was grown up business, dealing with fire, and there I was doing it myself. We made red fruity cheerios, green fruity cheerios, orange fruity cheerios - whatever spare jello packs happened to be on the shelves at the time. Fruity Cheerios were sticky and sweet and they turned your fingers all sorts of colors..
As time went on, Ma taught me how to make other things like rice crispy treats, cakes (with frosting), corn muffins, blueberry muffins with the blueberries we just picked in the woods, pancakes, cookies, all sorts of things..
Yesterday afternoon, I made one of my most favorite recipes that she taught me as a child, Oatmeal Date Bars. I hadn’t made them for decades. I dug the hand-written recipe card out of my jumbled collection I keep in a short cupboard over the microwave. As I went through all the steps - I had vivid flashes of childhood - of a little version of me standing up on the yellow step stool at the counter, making Oatmeal Date Bars with Ma and of her teaching me how to do things in general around the kitchen.
When we baked together - she was a patient teacher. She taught me the importance of measuring carefully, following directions, how to put your knife blade into a measuring cup of flour to get the air bubbles out, how to level off a measuring cup with the back of your knife, how to use the beater, what the different speeds were for, how to grease a pan, and most importantly - how to be patient and not open the oven door every ten minutes to see how things were progressing.