The Apple Pie from the Same Tree

Ann’s mother was special when it came to food. She could scan a printed page, retrieve a container from the cupboard, and *poof* add to the mixing bowl. Later, the family would eat freshly-baked casserole or chocolate-crusted cake.

And that is why Ann thought she might be magic, too. Surely, by the same means, Ann could create with a pinch of this or dash of that.

After Ann’s first attempt, only her father would taste it.

“Ah. Mashed potatoes?” he asked.

Ann nodded, trying not to feel sick as he stirred her mix of potato, milk, and runny eggs.

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Based on the author’s actual experience, and
Stirred together for the Carrot Ranch Literary Community.

Wanda Witch

Wanda Witch sat frowning.
Her cauldron sat a-bubbl’ng.
She’d wanted to concoct a treat;
The recipe was troubl’ng.

“Eye of newt? Skin of dog?
Dead frog’s toes and liver?”
The thought of even touching one
Made fingers shake and shiver.

She called her faithful crow;
It came, it perched, it said,
“You need a diff’rent recipe
With yummy things, instead.”

Nodding, Wanda looked around.
The coast was clear and so,
Adding this and stirring that,
Formed a tasty, sug’ry dough.

The cauldron sat, still bubbl’ng.
The crow flew to his rookery.
The witch removed a steaming pan:
Howl-een chocolate cookies.

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Created and simmered for Susanna Leonard Hill’s Halloweensie Contest.

Mondays and Memories

The pictures people post of life are beautiful, artistic, happy, and well-framed. They are also less than a second of time, and 4×6 inches of a multi-perspective panorama. Better make them the best, right?

So, when you see this pile of mess I’ve included, you may wonder where the beauty is. Why would I post this?

For the story. For the reality.

This pile is what was left after my two youngest (ages 7 and 4) mixed and baked a chocolate cake completely by themselves. They did so after making grilled cheese sandwiches and (somewhat charred) tomato soup for dinner.

I’m not certain why the “cakes” boiled over into the oven since I was returning from martial arts at the time. My twelve-year-old suspects they severely over-measured the baking soda. My husband was with them and told me how excited the six-year-old was for me to come home to a surprise dinner and a whole cake!

If I were aiming for artistry, I could pose the bakers’ chocolate-stained faces in front of a symmetrically-messy counter. I could write that my darling, budding chefs made dinner and dessert. Then I could elaborate, saying we ended the evening singing songs of family unity and went to bed before sundown.

The problem is that the evening did not end with dessert and singing. The problem is that I tried to clean up the remains of amateur baking with the oven’s self-clean option. That method didn’t last long.

As I sit in our smoke-scented house and listen to the roaring fans downstairs, I can’t help but consider how much easier this day would have been if I’d not allowed them to create their dessert surprise.

Then, I remember what my husband said about our budding baker. “That was so sweet of you!” I tell my six-year-old as we tuck him in. “I am so impressed that you made dinner and a whole cake by yourself!” As he swells with self-pride I suggest gently, “Let’s make it together next time.”

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Keep on Giving

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I mixed a batch of cookies, with extra sweets and fat.

I rolled, and baked, and shaped them all; then cooled them on the mat.

Then, frosting-armed, I painted scenes of swirls and stripes and spots;

Remembering your favorite, I added polka dots.

The strangest thing then happened, I’m sure that you’ll agree:

One by one, those cookies ended up inside of me.

But as I sat and typed this note, hand pausing over “Send,”

I realized stealing calories makes me the best of friends.

Cooking With Mum

Cookbook

Unlike many people raised these days, my mother (who forbade us from calling her the formal title of “mother”) stayed home to raise us, made dinner every night, and frequently baked extra treats or tried new recipes. We are requested to name a location and generation for this prompt; so I’ll say that I was “cooking with Mum” when we lived in Ridgecrest, CA and for most of my childhood outside of Salt Lake City, Utah (both in the United States). I consider myself both a Generation X and Y member.

I was always encouraged to help my mom in the kitchen. Perhaps, at my earliest memories, this was more of a “help,” than actual assistance, but I never recall her pushing me away or telling me not to bother her.

In fact, I know this was the norm even from toddling age. I remember reading over a cookbook in her collection compiled and printed by my first preschool teacher. As a child, I remember finding the page with the recipe I’d submitted: Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies, and thinking of how they were my favorite to make with her. I would have been three years old when it was printed.

My mom loves to try new things, and that was reflected in her cooking and baking. (That’s another thing -I never knew the two were separate classifications till recently because we did both, in equal measures.) She had cookbooks, yes -but also folders and a terribly-messy plastic container full of magazine clippings of myriad recipes.

My parents always insisted on us hand-making Mother’s or Father’s Day presents. In keeping with that tradition, my sister and I decided to tackle THE BOX of recipes one year. We were newlywed adults at the time, and probably could have gotten away with bending the rules due to age -but thought it would be great to finally have them all organized.

It. Took. Hours.

Days.

There is no way I would be able to complete such a task now, with my own family and a large house to maintain. We clipped recipes joined at the page, photocopied the backsides, and typed up handwritten ones with dubious titles and barely-legible handwriting. Then, we organized them by categories and alphabetized them and completely burned out at the idea of typing up tables of contents.

A surprising upside to this venture was that I made copies of my childhood favorites for my personal recipe collection. I’m smart, though; mine are kept in an expandable folder thing. I even have a couple of copies of my mother’s mother’s recipe cards (remember cards?!).

Another traditional activity associated with Mom and cooking was Christmas cookies. This is a bit of a baking/cooking crossover because most of the recipes were baked. I’m not going to classify something like Rice Krispies Treats as baking, however, and we frequently made a no-bake Corn Flake Kisses cookie that is similar to those gooey cereal bars.

Just before Christmas every year that I can remember, we would mix and bake at least four varieties of cookies or bars. Besides helping, our job as children was to deliver finished plates to all the neighbors. Each plate had several samples of each of the four or so varieties of baked/cooked goodies. Some neighbors reciprocated; though most did not hand-make their gifts to us.

This was an activity much like childbirth: I didn’t appreciate how much work my mother went through till I did it myself.

I have tried to continue this Christmas tradition. I even get my boys involved; they sincerely love cooking and baking with me as I did with my mom. However, I cannot get through the holiday event without shaving a recipe or two from my agenda and/or screaming in frustration at some thing that invariably delays production.

I only remember loving all the cookies and making it all happen with my mom, so hopefully that’s what my own kids are retaining.

Perhaps my mom found the tenacity to persevere because desserts have always been her favorite to make. She even bought a cookbook titled The All-Butter Fresh Cream Sugar-Packed No-Holds-Barred Baking Book. Truth be told, it ended up being one of those that you leaf through, decide you’d better not make anything inside, and stick back on the shelf.

Cookbook Fat

The picture I included waaaay up at the top is an image of my Betty Crocker cookbook, turned to the page on how to make pancakes. I can’t remember where my red cookbook came from, but I do know I thought it imperative that I own one. This is because the main source of recipes for us growing up was my mother’s red Betty Crocker cookbook.

Every time we wanted to make pancakes, we’d pull the book down and let it fall open on the counter. It was always on the page we wanted, through years of training. That, and there was enough spilled and splattered pancake batter to weight them down. We could barely make out the ingredients, so it was a good thing we knew the recipe so well.

In looking over my own well-loved page, I can’t help but feel proud to have inadvertently continued that tradition in my own family. We may not be quite as blotched-out as my mom’s pancake recipe, but we’re getting there.

 

Thanks to Irene A Waters over at Reflections and Nightmares for the writing prompt: Cooking with Mum.