Baked in Memories

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Food plays such and important part in a person’s life. Walking in fall leaves can flood back the smell of your grade school hallway at lunch time, a mixture of chemicals, over cooked spaghetti and an over abundance of kids. Falling snow brings back the smell of warm hot chocolate, made with milk, cocoa powder and sugar and fresh sugar cookies to take the chill off of your nose and cheeks.


As always there were the cakes, baked fresh every Sunday and frosted with miles of creamy smooth homemade icing. Mom was a baker above all else, she can cook but her sweets were by far the best. I would stand shoulder high to the table while she stacked and frosted a chocolate cake creation, her hand, holding the silver knife, first pushed frosting towards the edge, swoosh, and then her wrist would snap as she pulled the frosting back towards her. Swoosh and snap, swoosh and snap, the cake slowly became covered with a thick coating of creamy chocolate. I would watch, poised at the edge of the table, nose level to that tasty cake, waiting on the frosting bowl to lick up the last remaining bits.


She was the mom all of my grade school friends wanted, there were pumpkin shaped cookies at Halloween, frosted orange with green stems and piped on brown faces. For birthdays there were individual frosted and decorated cupcakes, placed in a large box and delivered to school. Valentines Day meant frosted heart shaped cutouts, one for every kid in my class.


Teachers would get homemade hard candy dusted with powdered sugar and placed in a pretty container for Christmas. I would be so proud of that gift; my little fingers had helped shape and roll those sparkly gems on the Formica kitchen table top. The kitchen would be so full of the smell of each flavor that you could step out onto the back porch and breathe the cold winter air in through your mouth and taste the flavor.


There were nights she would disappear into the kitchen while the rest of us watched TV and she would make fudge or brownies. Chocolate pudding never came out of a can; it was stirred slowly on the stove, a mixture of unsweetened chocolate, milk, cornstarch, sugar and corn syrup. Dad would always pour milk on top of his bowl of pudding. I had a roommate after college that ate an entire batch in one sitting.


I inherited her love of baking sweets and I am known for it by my friends. When I moved to Memphis to work as a designer, I baked for the people I worked with. Hired on first as a contractor, I eventually bid on a permanent job. My coworkers took homemade chocolate chip cookies to the person that would be my future full time boss and tell her she had to hire me, I baked the BEST cookies.


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