Share your story to win

KAF editor

share your story

Every time you bake bread or cookies or pie – with your family, for your friends – a story’s hidden there: your story. And we’d love to hear it. Tell us your baking claim to fame or your most cherished baking memory; add your story to this thread.

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badge posted by: KAF editor on August 20, 2010 at 3:46 pm in Claim to fame
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reply by: teachingcotton on August 20, 2010 at 10:05 pm
teachingcotton

I love to bake--cakes, cookies, pies...but my favorite is bread. Baking bread involves anticipation, patience, and sheer joy (not to mention the best smell on earth!). I also love teaching. I am now the reading specialist and dreadfully miss having a class of my own. I love going into the classrooms as often as possible. In June, our kindergarten teachers were doing a unit on "Mountain Pioneers". I was asked to come and make a loaf of bread for the class. I decided, however, that each child would make their own loaf of bread. We read the story "Bread Song" about the magic bread adds to lives around the world. Then each child put their ingredients into a bag as I explained the process of bread baking. They mixed and squished their bags and then the fun began. Flour flew and animated giggles accompanied the fun of kneading the loaves. While the bread was rising, we made butter. The students each hugged me as they went off to the cafeteria for lunch. One made me promise not to leave their bread alone while they were gone. The little loaves went into the classroom oven as they returned to the room and they happily "napped" while the aroma of baking bread filled the entire school. When rest time was over, we sliced the large loaves of bread I made and allowed them to spread the homemade butter over each slice. Their little loaves were wrapped up and carefully carried to the bus. Each child had a recipe in hand so they could teach their parents how the pioneers made bread long ago. Today, we returned to school from summer break and I was greeted with smiles and hugs as they told their parents I was "the bread teacher". These little bakers make my heart smile.

reply by: mrsvilhauer on September 01, 2010 at 10:12 pm
mrsvilhauer

As a college student I worked a short stint at a local bread bakery. It was there that my mom gave me one of the nicest compliments I have received from her. She said I was a natural when it came to matters of kneading dough. She went on to tell me how proud my great grandmother would have been. I must have taken that to heart because as a 30-year-old mother of two I now bake weekly with my children just like my relatives before me likely did. Most often, we make pizza dough. But regularly it is bread. Even though I have a job outside the home, I feel a need to go back to a more simple time by creating my nourishment in a hands-on sort of way. Five simple ingredients can make one of the most simple comfort foods of all time--bread. I'm honored to pass this art on to my own children, and at age 1 and 3 they run for a stool when they see the canister of flour on the counter.

reply by: Granny Annie on September 03, 2010 at 12:14 pm
Granny Annie

Fall has always been a very special time for me, the changing colors the cool crisp air and the smell of bread baking. My grandma loved to bake bread and when Thanksgiving came she made the most delicious rolls that were consume quite quickly. This memory of my grandma is what I want to pass on to my very special grandson and granddaughter. I will carry on her traditions every year, using King Arthur Flour for quality rolls and breads. Memories are what makes our lives more enoyable and with each season traditions to be passed on!

reply by: dksbook10027 on September 24, 2010 at 1:07 pm
dksbook10027

I've been famous since the 1980's for my biscotti, the recipe for which I very seldom share. Although it is not particularly difficult, and has few ingredients, I guess I have just the right touch, for those who do try to bake them say they are not the same. One friend, a Pampered Chef associate, who is also a gifted seamstress, gives a small bag to her best customers during the holidays. I make one batch, bag up about 5 oz. of the cookies in holiday themed sacks, and she has ever more loyal customers who receive them.

One winter I showed my friend a photo of a quilt made out of tee shirts, asking her how difficult it would be to make with my son's many and varied tees from fencing tournaments and clubs he visited. She did some research and then offered to make the quilt if I would bake enough biscotti to give to her accounting firm work associates. I was thrilled to do it, and my son got a quilt for Christmas that year, made of his cherished tee shirts.

I got even more fame, though. The following year at a community gala, someone I had never met came up to me and asked if I was the Diane who made biscotti. When I said I though maybe I was that Diane, she hugged and kissed me on both cheeks and said she had gotten a bag from my friend the previous year. She reported that she cried when she tasted them because they reminded her of the biscotti her Nonna from Pistoia made.

So that's my story of how two different household arts brought holiday joy to two different people in a way no manufacturer of cookies or quilts could possibly do.

reply by: brooksiefan on September 26, 2010 at 1:03 pm
brooksiefan

Seven years ago I was missing my mother, who died in 1999, so I made her molasses cookies and had a couple with a cup of British tea, which was how she always had them, and toasted her and felt better.

I took the rest to my friends' house. Their six-year-old absolutely loved them. They are his favorite cookie. He calls them "non-snap ginger snaps," and asks for them often.

I have taught him how to make them and I feel certain he will teach his own children how to make them someday. The same goes for his sister, who loves my mother's pecan balls. She now knows how to make them, and I think she will pass them along as well.

It's what I love about home baking--how it reaches down through generations, passing along comfort and joy and preserving sweet memories.

reply by: noblefood on September 27, 2010 at 8:11 pm
noblefood

My grandma taught me how to make cinnamon rolls. She told me that she went through a long list of recipes until she landed upon the I grew up with as a child and now my children are enjoying on weekends. Perhaps she just wanted us to ease up on requesting them (which still hasn't happened). I'd call it a claim to fame because my husband and I joke that if we baked anything for a business, it'd be cinnamon rolls. Maybe calling it "Bread and Breakfast" or "The Cinnamon Roll Shop." My mother-in-law suggested "Cinn-a-licious." So now we know how tempting they are for her! We prep the dough the night before and assemble in the mornings. It's always a tough decision to whether they'll be caramel or frosted, but Grandma's secret is in the topping. The caramel always cooks perfectly in the pan, and the frosting has both vanilla and butter flavoring. My husband and I really help each other do the preparations because we know it'll take no time to devour them. Plus that makes it a labor of love.

reply by: berardi95 on September 28, 2010 at 10:00 am
berardi95

My start in baking was at 30 years old. My husband and I lived in Pittsburgh by two precious nuns who ran a soup kitchen in the Hill District. I was a brand new mom to our 15 month old son and his 3 month old brother! Yes my sons are born on the same day a year apart! We decided I would quit work and stay home full time. I suddenly was drowning in "stuff" I was never prepared for...cooking and baking. We could not afford cable TV so we only had 3 channels one of them was PBS. I started watching Ciao Italia with Maryann Esposito, she always used KAF. So I went to the store bought some and began to cook and bake. I would share with the nuns who encouraged me and encouraged me more and would rock my sons when I was tired. It was close to Thanksgiving and one of the sisters asked me if I could make pumpkin pie. She said many of the homeless people would love a homemade pie. I never had before so I said well I will try and that year my husband and I made 50 pumpkin pies. I rolled crusts and crimped and filled and baked. From that day to this I am thankful they believed in me as a mom, KAF has been with me through it all. First it was the magazine I would read PJ Hammel's letters and then make the recipes. Then when we could afford a computer I hit the jackpot for KAF recipes! We have 6 children now our 2 sons and 4 daughters and all of them bake with me and share what we make. Cooking and baking give us a sense of belonging. Our kids bring their friends home just to eat my cookies! All of their teachers and coaches get pies as thank you gifts. My claim to fame would be those 50 pies in that small apartment kitchen with two babies running around and my heart and hands full.....

reply by: bellesaz on September 28, 2010 at 6:59 pm
bellesaz

I love that story. Thanks for sharing, it made me smile! That's what baking is all about. Those kids will probably never forget that experience.

reply by: bellesaz on September 28, 2010 at 7:14 pm
bellesaz

I just loved reading all of these stories. I admit to a getting a bit teary eyed over them too.. for all of us, baking holds something so special. I think there are three themes in these posts... LOVE, MEMORIES AND SHARING. How beautiful is that!?

My Mother and Grandmother were the ones who really inspired me to bake. Grandma Anderson lived to be 102 years old. She was married with 9 children and they lived on a large ranch in Montana. She baked bread every day for her husband, her kids and 6 ranch hands during the calving and branding season. She told me that baking 20 loaves of bread every single day was the norm... I can't imagine! She did all of this in an oven that used wood as a heat source. WOW! Her bread and rolls were the best in the world. I have spent the last several years trying to perfect her recipe - which she never wrote down. She gave me the basic ingredients and her advice to me was, "Your dough doesn't lie. You'll know when it's right!" I have finally found the right ingredients and timing and have produced a bread that is extremely close to hers. It is truly amazing and I make it once a week.

My Mother was a wonderful baker too. Her bread was lovely, but her pies... oh, those glorious pies! We treasured them, her crust was perfect, flakey and so tender. Her secret was using lard in her crusts. My Grandmother used bear fat that had been rendered slowly and then canned and stored for the winter. You've never smelled "STINK" until you've smelled bear fat rendering in an oven. But oh boy.. incredible pie crusts!

My world was shattered when my Grandmother and my Mother both passed away within 2 days of one another. All I had left were my memories, so when I bake - I bake with the spirit of my family. And it brings me joy, comfort and I feel very close to them.

reply by: robinwaban on September 30, 2010 at 10:01 am
robinwaban

Isn't amazing how hard our parents and grandparents worked? I find that I'm so "busy" now, throwing in 4 loads a week into the washing machine, loading the dishwasher each day, communicating on the computer.... etc. What's the matter with us? Loved your story!

reply by: grumpybear on September 30, 2010 at 9:51 pm
grumpybear

I come from a non-baking family. As a child, it was a really special treat if my mom pulled out a brownie mix and baked those while we watched a movie. About seven years ago, when I graduated from college, I decided that I was going to change that. I'm a self-taught baker. I've read through tons of cookbooks, subscribed to many magazines, and even watched a video to learn how to knead bread dough by hand (after reading a book that said to ask your mother or grandmother to show you how to knead--I just snorted--clearly they did not know MY mother and grandmother). Baking is now my passion.

My 'claim to fame" is my zucchini bread. I came upon the base recipe three years ago, when my CSA was sending me way too much zucchini every week. I am probably one of the only people who thinks cinnamon smells like summer. Every week during the growing season, I bake two loaves of the zucchini bread, to use up some of that ever-abundant squash.

I hope that, though baking was not part of my childhood, it will figure prominently in my son's memories. He is only 9 months old now, but I am already anticipating the time when we can get our hands messy kneading the bread dough together, have fun picking out the cookie cutters for each special holiday or occasion, and can pour over my cookbooks to pick just the right recipe to try as a project on a rainy day.

reply by: frick on October 02, 2010 at 10:22 pm
frick

What beautiful stories. I don't have that legacy of childhood baking memories but I loved reading them.

bellesaz, are you going to post that bread recipe. I have posted some strange old things to try to keep them alive. I am thrilled when someone here tries them and then uses them as a part of their repetoire. I bet your Mom's bread recipe should be immortalized right here.

reply by: omaria on October 03, 2010 at 11:09 pm
omaria

I just have a baking story about my grandfather and my memories about him were woken up by another story here about Dutch Rusk.Opa was a baker in Holland. He made rusk often . He had a big metal container in the bakery and he kept his eggs in there. No, not chicken eggs, but duck eggs. He had them covered with water and some sort of chalk or gypsum powder, so you did not see the water. That kept those eggs fresh for a long time. If he had no duck eggs he would not bake any rusks, because they would not be up to his standards. I have not eaten any rusk for a long time and had forgotten about the duck eggs,but the answer from PJ was about Holland rusk, so I wanted to tell this story.

reply by: tapiefay on October 04, 2010 at 1:53 pm
tapiefay

Passing on dessert and instead indulging in a second Overnight Crescent Dinner Roll was nothing unusual at meals with my husband’s family in Central Ohio. They were famous for their sweet flavor and heavenly texture. The house filled with the yeasty goodness for hours after baking. I can close my eyes and breath in the love right now!

So when my husband and I moved into our first place and decided to host Thanksgiving dinner with both our families we assigned his mother to make her rolls for the occasion. I wanted my Tapié side of the family in Cleveland to enjoy this Fay family delicacy that they had heard so much about.

On the eve of Thanksgiving Mom prepared the dough for a huge batch of rolls only to discover my refrigerator was completely full of holiday preparations and there was no room for the big bowl inside it. Since the forecast was for low temps she decided the cold pantry by tour back door was cold enough and she set the bowl on the buffet here to chill overnight.

In the morning she discovered the dough had not risen as expected. But she proceeded with the recipe and rolled the crescents and set them in the warm kitchen to rise. They didn’t! Knowing everyone would be disappointed she baked them anyway, resulting in an inferior result, but still edible?

We all joined together for Thanksgiving dinner. My father hungry for one of these famous rolls, he’d heard tales of, began to sample his saying how he could hardly wait…but wait… something was wrong. To demonstrate his problem he tapped his roll hard on the tabletop as though pounding in a nail! Mom was horrified as she and we ALL burst into laughter! Pop then said, “well the good news is we can always use these for Boomerangs!”

Upon returning back home Mom baked up a perfect batch of her rolls and immediately mailed a package off to my father in Cleveland to prove her ability. A few days later she received a return package from my father. The empty box with a sprinkling of crumbs with a note of thanks saying how delicious the Boomerangs were and her reputation was unscathed!

To this day, more than 30 years later, both our families still refer to these delicious rolls as Boomerangs!

reply by: bakeit on October 08, 2010 at 2:02 pm
bakeit

go2tetonsw60@gmail.com My grandparents homesteaded 1200 acres, and I began to can, cook, harvest at age 5. I love to bake, and have used it often for therapy, for youth, of whom have lost a loved one. Once, when a best friend was close to passing away, her 4 daughter's and my 1 daughter, used King Arthur flour, via the "big bertha" kitchen aide mixer, to make noodles, 5 loaves of bread, with raisins, 14 dozen cookies, and 6 rolls of cookie dough to toss into the freezer. I can attest the most fun was we were all covered in flour, and laughing, sharing can be the positive relief in time of crisis. To this day, as they have gone to college, they never forget the memory of 12 lbs, of King Arthur Flour. And for this, we are all forever grateful.

reply by: Mary Kathleen Wood on October 10, 2010 at 10:15 am
Mary Kathleen Wood

I am most known for being able to whip up the lightest fluffiest fruit scones in a matter of minutes. My co-workers ask the night before to "bring in a batch of those big cookies!" Friends talk about them long after tasting. The recipe lends itself to any handy fruit in season or chocolate chips. When asked how to make them I say it is a combination of an old Welsh family recipe, good quality flour, and a very light hand. I only wish my bread-making ability was as successful!

reply by: PrincessNita on October 10, 2010 at 2:48 pm
PrincessNita

I grew up eating my mom's homemade bread instead of the storebought bread all my friends ate. It wasn't until I entered college that I realized how precious that good, hearty, homemade bread really was. My mom was happy to share her formula (she prefers not to call it a recipe, because she doesn't measure anything) and I became known in my dorm for baking bread at midnight when I was up studying, and for surprising my friends with bread in campus mail whent hey were down. I wrapped up my dough in warm towels and brought it to night art class with me so I could punch it down at the right time, and that professor fell in love with the bread when I shared it with the class later.

I have baked bread to welcome people, and to celebrate birthdays, and to share sympathy; I have baked bread for new mothers adn for terminally ill friends. I think the act of making that wholesome, delicious food with a particular person in mind is an act of profound spirituality, and it has certainly enriched my life. I am sure my mother never expected that as she made endless loaves for her young family, but she and I still enjoy sharing bread!

reply by: MamaTess on October 12, 2010 at 12:57 am
MamaTess

For Christmas when I was five years old, my brother gave me a Klutz Kids cookbook. Though the front cover has since fallen off and it is showing wear and tear, I still love using it! The chocolate chip cookie and brownie recipes in it are the best I have ever made, and sharing them with friends and family over the last twenty years has been wonderful. Those cookies and brownies made me fall in love with baking from scratch rather than using box mixes, and has expanded to making my own bread, pizza crust and pretty much everything else I can! That cookbook may have been one of the best gifts I ever received with the love of cooking it helped foster.

reply by: purple3216 on October 21, 2010 at 4:37 pm
purple3216

My parents married shortly after World War II. They were building a home, and money was tight, so they went on a short honeymoon trip to New York City. While there, they visited an army buddy of my dad's, and were served an Italian cookie that has become a favorite in our family. It's one of the first cookies my children remember making, and we make it for every holiday. Lightly flavored with both lemon and orange extracts, my children and their friends refer to them as "ball cookies", and have always been allowed to choose the colors for the icing and the sprinkles. We'd made some pretty funky-colored cookies but they don't last long around here, no matter how they look. My children are 18 and 21 now, but one of my favorite pictures is of my daughter (at 3 yrs old) and my dad (now passed away)with aprons on and rolling out balls of cookie dough! It's a recipe that will continue to be handed down through the generations.

reply by: nickle99 on October 22, 2010 at 9:04 pm
nickle99

My aunt Peggy (who was my mother figure throughout my life) was an amazing baker! She would bake something from scratch EVERY day to express her love for my uncle, which he enjoyed very much! Apart from her daily baking, Christmas cookies were her claim to fame. She would easily bake about 20 different types of cookies each season, which for her, was a process that started early in October. Several different types of dough would be made and frozen to be baked at a later date, countless lbs of nuts would be chopped for various types of cookies, and I don’t even want to think about the amount of flour that passed through her kitchen! What I loved most about her baking, besides obviously eating all the cookies, was how my aunt stored the mountains of tasty treats. She had a great screened-in back porch, which in the cold Pennsylvania winter months felt like a walk-in freezer. So each holiday season the porch became cookie central. Every different kind of cookie was stored in tall Charles Chips tins, lined with waxed paper. Charles Chips was a potato chip company based out of PA that delivered their product door-to-door in these great tins. My aunt kept all the tins and recycled them for cookie storage during the holidays. I remember my brother, cousin and I would fight about who had to go onto the frigid porch to refill the pretty tray of cookies that was always on display in the house. Ultimately, whoever ate the last cookie of a certain type had to go onto the porch to refill the tray! Once I grew up and got married, my aunt passed her tradition, recipes, and some Charles Chip tins onto me. Sadly, we lost my aunt a few years ago, but it is this time of year especially, as I start my(her) cookie baking process, that I feel very close to her. I look forward to carrying on this tradition for many years to come and cannot wait to share and pass this on to my daughter someday, Charles Chips tins and all!

reply by: WGVance on October 22, 2010 at 10:40 pm
WGVance

I am known for my bread. I learned to make bread sixty years ago from my grandmother and my mother. Since then, I have made pizza dough as a cook at a scout camp and I’ve baked bread for my family and friends. I’ve even baked small loaves of communion bread for my church. Now I make most of my bread with a bread making machine, but I still like to experiment with new recipes, especially those I can make with the herbs we grow in our garden. I often donate a few loaves to silent auctions for various charities.

Recently a new tea and spice shop opened near our home, and I took the owner a half-loaf of my cheesy dill casserole bread. She liked it so much she printed the recipe and put it on a hook in her store for her customers to take. She told me that she could barely keep up with the demand for dill thanks to that recipe. That is my story.

reply by: golfergrl on October 23, 2010 at 12:22 pm
golfergrl

WHAT A LITTLE PIE CAN DO

I am employed at the U.S. Naval Academy. A call was sent out requesting people to bake pies for local sailors who had no family nearby and were alone for Thanksgiving. I love to bake pies and my pie crust is “to die for” so I am told so I decided to do some baking. I recruited my then 11 year old niece, Caroline. I thought this was a great opportunity to teach her how to bake pies and also the importance of using one’s time to serve others and bring a little joy into their lives.

We had a blast making the fillings and crusts. With her small fingers, she was able to crimp the edges beautifully. Of course there was flour everywhere. We laughed and laughed and talked about how sad it would be to not be near family during the holidays.

It was with such pleasure that I took the five pies to the distribution center. We have done this for the past three years. Thanksgiving is just a few weeks away; time to start thinking about what kind of pies to bake this year.

reply by: KLabmom on October 24, 2010 at 11:44 am
KLabmom

I have always enjoyed making yeast bread, and I have enjoyed the success of making it well. A few years ago when I got married and started a family, we moved into a 100 year old home. Everytime I make bread now, I stand in my kitchen and look out of my window thinking about all the women who stood there before me, making the bread for their families. What a simple, ageless chore this is, the making of the bread. We feed our families with it, it nourishes our bodies. But, it also feeds and nourishes our soul. I always feel the most important when I am making the bread for our meals. I am taking part in the age old tradition of love, the love of feeding our families the best way we know how. That is a feeling that cannot be replaced! When I see my children enjoying a sandwich on my bread, or asking for a slice with butter, my heart is overjoyed. They may not be the best helpers yet, but they will be. And I will look forward to passing on the tradition of love to them.

reply by: murrayfrye on October 26, 2010 at 8:34 pm
murrayfrye

My Grandmother had 12 kids and over 50 grandkids and every year we would gather at her house for the holidays. There were kids everywhere and those remain some of my favorite memories. Forget the turkey and the pies, Granny Fox’s homemade noodles were the grandkids favorite. After mixing the flour, eggs, salt and pepper, she would use a pop bottle to roll the noodles out before cutting them. We would take turns going in to “help” because we knew if we helped, we also got to be a taster! This also gave us one-on-one time with Granny which was rare in a house full of people. Granny loved to laugh and gossip!

As Granny got older, she “retired” from noodle making. My aunts would take turn making noodles but no one made them quite as good as Granny. One Thanksgiving, I pulled her out of retirement and had her teach me her noodle tricks.

Seven years ago, I moved to Tulsa where I am lucky enough to live close to several cousins, my sister and sister in law. On the Tuesday before Thanksgiving, I invite all of them plus a few friends and we made Granny Fox’s noodles for everyone’s Thanksgiving dinner. The tradition grew and this year, there are over 20 women on the invite list and we expect to make enough noodles for over 250 people. We gossip, drink a little wine and kick-off our holidays. While some things have changed (we now use KitchenAid mixers instead of pop bottles to roll out the noodles), the laughter and the love that defined Granny Fox remain.

reply by: Tom and Martha on October 26, 2010 at 9:24 pm
Tom and Martha

My favorite baking memory is when I received a cookbook for my ninth birthday. I decided to make my favorite cookies, ginger snaps, all by myself. I carefully read the directions and measured the ingredients. When the first batch came out of the oven they looked just like the picture in the cookbook. I was so proud! Then I bit into one of the cookies and I realized something was wrong! It tasted salty! After reviewing the recipe, I realized that instead of 1/2 teaspoon of salt, I had put 1/2 cup of salt in the dough! That was over 50 years ago and I still enjoy baking but I am always careful to review the ingredients and their measurements!
Martha Hanson

reply by: Basil Cookie on October 26, 2010 at 10:17 pm
Basil Cookie

How My “Basil Balls” Got Their Name

Ardith loved my “Date Ball” cookies and I loved Ardith. For her 85th birthday I made a batch to mail to her. Pleased to note that the plastic container housing the fresh basil I recently purchased would neatly and securely hold the cookies, I thoroughly washed and aired the package leaving the permanent “basil” label in place.
Several weeks later a lovingly sincere “thank you” arrived. Ardith wrote of her surprise that “basil” could be used in cookies. Intrigued she had shared this information and some cookies with her circle of retired home economists—they too only used basil in spaghetti and pesto sauces. Furthermore, they were amazed that such a strong flavor wasn’t apparent in the cookies. Her note ended “the basil balls are very tasty but do not compare with your date balls.”
Ardith died soon after her birthday without ever learning that the cookies I sent in the recycled basil container were in fact “Date Balls.” I renamed my recipe “Ardith’s Basil Balls” in memory and honor of my dear friend.

reply by: bensbread on October 27, 2010 at 12:38 am
bensbread

One of my goals in life has been to invent something that would make me world famous. I always thought that it would be some technological marvel that would make everyone’s lives simpler. After all, I did spend the better part of a decade studying computers in college, that should help right?

Who knew that instead of the latest techno gadget it would turn out to be sourdough bread that made me famous? How did this happen? I fell in love with bread after being introduced to it at a great bakery in college. After moving away for a job to a place where I could not find a good bakery, I sought to create one in my kitchen.

Having spent my college years living on fast food, pizza, and the generosity of other cooks, I faced an uphill battle. I wanted to create my own recipe using only the basic ingredients that would be work around my work schedule. My favorite has always been sourdough, and not knowing where to get a start I started my own. While waiting for it to grow I spent my time searching the Internet for recipes, ideas, and methods.

Eight months, a very patient wife, and several dozen loaves of bread later, I came up with my own method and found a loaf that I really enjoyed making and eating. In the process of learning, I gave several of my “test” loaves away to friends and co-workers. I now get requests to make my bread for any occasion. My co-workers even plan pot-lucks as an excuse to get some of my bread. (They call it “Ben’s Bread Buffet.”)

I enjoy finding new breads and am constantly trying new recipes. I’ve even branched out into rolls and was requested by my wife to make over 100 dinner rolls for a church party. Instead of a technological invention that makes everyone's lives simpler, I am famous for helping those around me enjoy one of the simpler things in life, sourdough bread.

reply by: DaddyBread on October 29, 2010 at 9:05 am
DaddyBread

When I was in graduate school I lived in Norwich, just down the road from King Arthur Flour. I drove past the store almost every day, but it never occurred to me to bake anything other than refrigerator biscuits. Then I got married, moved away, and in fairly short order our daughter was born. I stayed at home with the baby in the mornings while my wife was at work, and I found I needed something other than diaper changing and bottle warming to occupy my time. On a whim, I decided to make a sourdough starter. My wife, who did not simply drive past King Arthur during our time in graduate school, always buys your flour, so that is what I made it with. The rest is history. The starter is as old as our daughter (now almost nine), and I make the bread once or twice a week, every week, year 'round. My children have been helping me since they could stand. They call my bread "Daddy Bread" and refuse to eat the soft white bread that many children crave. On a couple of occasions early in my sourdough career our local market was out of your flour when we needed it, so I substituted another brand. Disaster. Now I will drive to another town if I need to, rather than pollute my starter with the wrong flour. I am not much of a brand loyalist for most things, but King Arthur flour is non-negotiable.

reply by: mrs buttery on October 29, 2010 at 6:07 pm
mrs buttery

Recently, this past summer , my three sisters and I were together for a few days away. Lots of talking and lots of EATING , much JOY just being together ! We are all in our fifties so heathier eating was often what we talked about . One of my sisters has especially challenging health which has not yet been correctly diagnosed ( they are now thinking she may have parkinson's disease ). She was really eager to make changes to her eating patterns but her health makes it difficult to cook anything that requires alot of food prep. , It is especially difficult for her to bake . She was buying grocery store muffins for breakfast often.
I , however , love to bake ! And I have made a commitment to bring her HEALTHY muffins every week . So, as soon as we returned home from our sister's getaway, I purchased the King Arthur Flour Whole Grain Baking Book !!! This book is awesome !!! Since the day it was purchased , it has not left my kitchen . It is either open on the counter (being used) or on the kitchen table for inspiration , reference and shopping lists. I really do use it every day !!! I have become an advocate for healthy baking ! I tell people about it all the time , especially in the grocery store . The great thing about baking with whole grains is how satisfying and sustaining it is. AND IT ALL TASTES REALLY, REALLY GOOD !!! My sister and I both agree that the Gingerbread (page 425) is the best we've ever had ! I often will use a quick bread or cake recipe to bake as muffins for her. They are all great , healthy and yummy ! Every week I look forward to bringing her what I've baked . It has become very special to me !

Also , my husband loves that I am baking almost daily . We have 2 boys , both in their early 20 ' s living at home . They have been my most difficult whole grain converts . They love their white bread and fast foods. However , they really really liked the Multigrain Snickerdoodles and the Devil's Food Cake .

This baking book is not only full of great tasting healthy recipies , it also is a wealth of whole grain knowledge and information . Spelt , Barley flour , oat flour , flaxseed , ect., Not only do I bake with them , I know how best to store them and the unique characteristics each will bring to the finished product . I am constantly learning !

I want to sincerely express my gratitude to all at King Arthur Flour. Your products and recipies are wonderful and I can tell by how the baking instructions are written , that you really care ! Thank you !

Sincerely , Mrs Buttery

reply by: mrsright on October 30, 2010 at 6:31 pm
mrsright

My cooking story is about my mother and my aunt jenny.I was about 10 and we were at my aunt jenny and my mother were making my uncle gordy a birthday cake . I was watching them wishing i could help but in the end glad i did not. It was a maple chiffon cake.When it was all done cooking it needed to be cooled over a bottle so the cake could keep its shape and not deflate. well the cake was suppose to stick in the pan on top of a big old glass sprite bottle.Well needless to say it was not staying in the pan it started to come sliding out of the pan and as i watched and listened to them my aunt jenny was saying words i cant put in this story and my mom was crying because she is so very passionate about her cooking. Here they are burning there arms and finger tips trying to keep this cake in the pan. Well it did not stay in the pan they both got burned and my mom put the cake when it was cooled on a cake plate and frosted it and wrote happy birthday . My aunt jenny told my uncle gordy what happened and to say any thing about how the cake looked to my mom just to say thanks. So we ate dinner and then my mom brought out the cake and we sang happy birthday and my uncle said wow thanks for the flat tire cake and laughed and then my mom cried but we laughed and to this day my uncle says that was the best flat tire he ever ate. If you could have seen the cake that is just what it looked like.

reply by: tuuthfairy on October 31, 2010 at 11:59 pm
tuuthfairy

On my birthday,a few years ago, my daughter decided she would surprise me by making a cake. I always made cakes from scratch but she decided that would be too hard for her so she rode her bike to the store and bought a cake mix. When I came home from work, I saw a lovely store bought cake on the counter. She proceeded to tell me that she had actually made a cake and frosted it with elaborate decorations. When she finished the cake, she turned her back and heard KABOOM. The whole cake had exploded and there was cake and frosting all over the walls and the cabinets. I asked her if she had followed all of the directions on the box and she replied well, she really didn't read them, she looked at the pictures. One of the pictures, she decided, was a can of baking powder and what looked like 2 tablespoons next to it. So I concluded that she added baking powder to the box mix and it was too much for the poor cake to handle. My heart broke at the idea of all the hard work she put into that cake. She cleaned up the mess and went back to the store to buy a ready made cake. We did get a lot of laughs over it but I'm equally grateful she wasn't hurt! Stay tuned for Chapter 2 and the buttermilk experience!!

reply by: Itchy on November 01, 2010 at 12:39 pm
Itchy

My most memorable
cooking story , is my first cooking experience. I was 5 yrs. old. My mother
had bought me a little cooking set. Whenevershe made pies, she gave me the
leftover dough. I had a little rolling pin, roll out surface and various
pans. That particular day she made three pies, and they were in the oven
baking. I took the dough and rolled it out. I fitted it into my small pie
plate. What was I to use for filling? I skinned about 5 crayons, and put
them into the crust. I coveredit with a top crust, crimped it and when mom
wasn't looking opened theoven and popped it in. In a little while , my dad
asked" Joan are you burning your pies?" "No dear she said, they have only
been in 25 minutes or so." Sheopened the oven, and wax had meltedall over
the bottom. My dad didn't think to much of the idea, and needless to say I
paid the price on "my blessed assurance". Mom on the other hand said "the
crust was perfectly arranged in the pan". The next day she took me to the
book store and got me a Betty Crocker Jr. cookbook for kids. I used thatbook
until I was probably 15 yrs. old. The pages were stuck together, and falling
out. I had used it so much over the years. Now at 61 I have many more
cookbooks, and have baked many more pies. My oldest daughter is teaching her
girls 3 and five to learn their way around the kitchen.

reply by: psychonurse on November 01, 2010 at 2:55 pm
psychonurse

I love to bake,and I do each week while holding a full time job.

I think my claim to fame would be Pecan Pound Cake. Everyone who eats nuts loves it. Second runner up is Red Velvet Cake.
I once worked with a Dr. and he would call before
making rounds. He first would ask, what did you bake today, while most ask How many patients do we have?

reply by: maryanncrimmins on November 01, 2010 at 3:21 pm
maryanncrimmins

My favorite baking story began at Christmas time, 1976, my rookie year teaching high school. I baked homemade chocolate chip cookies for all of my students. Many of them had never had a homemade cookie and talked about them for months. I often meet my former students and they tell me about their fond memories of my class as well as my baking. I have since graduated to cupcakes and brownies. Many of my alumni come back before the holidays to have a treat.

reply by: ln4608 on November 01, 2010 at 8:54 pm
ln4608

It is possible to hold time in your heart. It is possible to taste a memory. Recently, the high school football season came to an end in our Missouri town- and with it came the close of our son’s football career. To say we all entered the day unprepared for the emotion of the experience is an understatement. There was a sequence events, most of which involved crying on someone’s part: the last pregame meal, chapel with senior fathers, pregame parent introductions, postgame good-byes and realizations. It was one of those moments when all involved know they are experiencing something they will remember for life. Moms don’t get to go to Senior Night Chapel, which made me jealous. Really jealous. But it also made me happy I’d spent the entire football season showing up week in and week out with a hundred cookies. The recipe used 14 cups of flour (King Arthur- always) plus corn flakes and chocolate chips and butterscotch chips and oatmeal. Pretty much, the cookies became famous. Trust me, I didn’t intend to make them every week. I work full time, and that much baking could only be accomplished in the middle of the night. But they were a labor of love- something that just made sense when my son said, “please make the cookies again this week mom.” It would have been really easy to say I was too busy. But wow- what I would have missed: the moments by the bus before it pulled away, the jokes about coaches hoarding extras to take home, the cute girl trainers who were so happy to welcome me on the field, and most of all the sweet bond forged between a mother and a son- the result of pride in promises made and kept. And yes, really, somehow all of that is tied to that one magical season of baking. When time bends backward on itself, and memories land me in the fall of 2010, it will smell like grass, rain, and sweat, feel like joy, and taste like these cookies.

Ingredients (2x)
7 Cups all-purpose flour (King Arthur)
6 teaspoons baking soda
2 teaspoons salt
1 cup butter
1 cup margarine
2 cups firmly packed light brown sugar
2 cups white sugar
2 eggs
2 tablespoons of milk
4 teaspoons of vanilla
2 cups of vegetable oil
2 cups cornflakes (Honey, if possible)
2 cups quick oats
12 ounces semi-sweet chocolate chips
12 ounces butterscotch chips
Process
Preheat oven to 350.
Assemble dry ingredients: flour, baking soda, and salt. Whisk together and set aside.
Soften butter and margarine. In a large bowl, combine butter/margarine with brown and white sugar, eggs, milk, and vanilla. Stir/whisk well to ensure it is completely combined. Stir in oats, then corn flakes, then the chips. Blend completely.
Use an ice scoop to form dough balls (sorry, couldn’t think of a better way to say it) and drop onto ungreased cookie sheet. Bake 11-13 minutes, depending on oven.

reply by: carpet on November 02, 2010 at 3:41 pm
carpet

My mom baked every day, cookies, pies, breads, cakes, she could do them all. But at Christmas my mom baked magic. Th weeks before Christmas was filled with activites: trimming the tree, sewing dresses for me and my six sisters, decorating the house but still she found time to bake dozens upon dozens of Christmas cookies. The recipes were collected over many years, everyone in the family having a favorite. She would bake snowballs, pecan balls, mint surprises, butterhorns, mounds bars, choclate crackles, the list of kinds went on-and-on. Evry cannister she could find would be filled to the brim. The cookies were shared with teachers, friends, neighbors, the mailman, the newspaper man, and even the gas man. Then as if baking hundreds of cookies was not enough mom would spend hours on Christmas eve baking homemade cinnamon rolls and dad's favorite, apricot stollen, for Christmas morning breakfast. Sadly mom suffers from Alzhiemer's and is now in a nursing home. Over the years her time treasured recipes have been handed down from generation- to -generation. Her recipes are now baked by her daghters, son, daghter-in-law, grandchildren and great-grandchildren. Though she may not remeber the joy and delight her cookies brought us we honor her each and every year by carrying out the tradition she began over four genrations ago.

reply by: wulfkuhle on November 02, 2010 at 7:01 pm
wulfkuhle

Growing up, my grandparents would come to visit about once a year from California. What I remember more than anything about these visits are the shortbread cookies my grammie would make: hearts, stars, crescent moons, ducks, and little people cut from thinly rolled dough and baked to perfection. I stopped at the cookie jar at any chance I got. As the time neared for my grandparents to leave, however, I knew that meant there would be no more shortbread cookies. My solution to this problem was simple. I stashed a few cookies in a decorative box in our living room that conveniently had a paper doily at the bottom. Long after my grandparents left, I would sneak in the box and eat the cookies one tiny bite at a time, each bite bringing my grammie back again.

reply by: Rustyspoons on November 02, 2010 at 8:56 pm
Rustyspoons

Wow... What an incredibly powerful & meaningful topic of discussion for me... I can recall a number of the most important, cherished memories in my life, and almost ALL of them involve me as a child, my maternal Grandmother who raised me after the passing of my beloved mom, & baking.. Those times, and those memories are so powerful, so important to me, that the act of recalling them can truly fill my mind with the most realistic sensory memories imaginable...-from the pitch & whir of my grandmothers stand-mixer, to remembering the soft, buttery taste & grainy texture of the ingredients when she would cream vanilla, sugar, & butter in the mixer & I would "sneak a taste" from that spinning mixing bowl every time she baked;- luckily, and to my delight, she baked OFTEN. "Nanny's" super-smooth velvety cheesecake, amazing moist, sour-cream-pound-cakes, incredibly fragrant, delicious orange/lemon zest scones, and all of the the 20+ varieties of holiday cookies and cakes she made were HONESTLY LEGENDARY.. Her savory dishes, such as her infamous 8-inch-high, traditional-Italian "meat&cheese Easter Pie",- as well as the many other savory baked dishes she routinely made,- were no less spectacular.. She hosted a "club" meeting once a month at her home in my early years, and while the nature of the club escapes me, the memory of each and every woman raving about the cake that Nanny had baked for that evening's dessert is clear as a bell... As is her warning to me and Poppy to keep "hands off until company arrived" lol... As always, all the cakes and things she baked were always "from scratch",and she used nothing but the freshest, highest quality ingredients she could find,- as there was "no Internet" catalogue back then, I vividly remember her traveling to extreme lengths to obtain "rare" or unusual ingredients that couldn't be found in the local market...- making our "every-day" desserts, well as our every Holiday desserts like an anticipated "event" that each and every family member could barely wait to enjoy...
Those times I spent with my Grandmother in her modest kitchen, where she taught me how to sift flour,& the importance of "room temperature" butter & eggs, or the exact measuring of ingredients, are my most priceless memories, - made all the more so by virtue of the fact that these memories are basically all that's left of my "pre-married family"...Which is why my memories feel so important to share as a story, as well as to share as tradition & experiences with MY own cherished growing daughters. Those fabulous memories are imbedded in my mind, bring a smile to my face, a happiness to my heart, & inspiration to my kitchen.. I'll always remember Nanny's long dinning room table over flowing with varieties of Holiday Baked Cakes and cookies that I "helped" her bake... I hope to give my daughters the same gift of warm & loving memories in the kitchen, the desire to explore the joys of baking,-keeping & creating traditions alive...long after those who created or inspired our traditions has passed... It's certainly a wonderful opportunity for me to keep, re-visit & create even more favorite baking memories.... :)

reply by: Aleksandra on November 02, 2010 at 9:55 pm
Aleksandra

The golden yolk of the egg quietly sliped out over the broken edges of the speckled shell in a perfect, globular mass. It fell gracefully – at least, as gracefully as an egg yolk is able to fall – into the steel bowl with a quiet puff as flour, yeast, and sugar rose to meet it. Some two feet above this familiar counter top scene, my hands curled themselves around the bowl and the well-loved wooden spoon. I stir, adding splashes of water and oil as I go. Once around, twice around, thrice around. Repeat. The rhythmic thumping of the spoon against the stainless curves of the bowl is comforting, familiar, and magical.
I have not always loved to bake, but perhaps the passion was always there, lying dormant. From when I was young, up until this day, my mother made bread every week – four loaves of it, one of which was usually devoured throughout the course of a single evening. (We Poles are bread folk.) She makes her own cookies and cakes, often referring to a tattered, well-loved hand written recipe book. She had watched her mother, I suppose. And I watched mine. One day, a few years ago, I think I decided to make some bread. I won’t say that some sort of divine glow surrounded me as soon as I opened a packet of yeast, but as the French loaves came out of the oven, my interest was peaked.
I have continued to experiment, to grow, and to give. Rarely do I keep the products of my culinary trials to myself. It is a great comfort to me to know that, at the basest level, what I have created will be used in the best way – for consumption, for energy, for life.

reply by: betsyhadley on November 03, 2010 at 5:01 pm
betsyhadley

We started out small - a bread making machine - and with that began our jouney into the magic of yeast and flour. But then one batch of rosemary olive focaccia got a curious reaction from my sister, "what's this rubber thing in the bread?". At first I assured her it was just a kalamata, but it turned out to be a washer from the machine! So we threw out the unit and discovered the joy of working the dough by hand. We've expanded our recipes, baking techniques and ventured into experimenting with different ingredient combinations. I'm especially looking forward to Thanksgiving stuffing featuring our scottish oatmeal bread. And we do still occassionally get requests to make our famous "washer bread" (without the washer).

reply by: epmom on November 04, 2010 at 8:12 am
epmom

My favorite "mess" of a story.

My mother bakes hundreds of Christmas cookies every year. When my brother and I were children she would always make a cookie called a "Jolly Jellie," which was a thumb print cookie with mint jelly in the center. NO ONE in our family liked them but she continued to make them every year. Jump to 20 years later and my parents were babysitting my brother's dog over the Christmas holiday. They were entertaining a group of friends and my mom had her traditional platter of cookies out for dessert. While no one was looking, the dog got into the platter and ate all the cookies but with one exception...... the Jolly Jellies!

reply by: WineMaven on November 04, 2010 at 11:30 am
WineMaven

In my twenties, I married a man with three pre-teen kids. This is a tough time to bond with any child, but being a new stepmother, I struggled to find ways to connect. Their eyes lit up the first time I made bread, though, as they’d never tasted homemade bread before. That became one of the ways that we bonded. They each had a favorite type of bread, which my husband I would happily make for them whenever they requested it. Being teenagers, they loved pizza, so we often made homemade pizza. We would section off pieces of dough so everyone could roll their own crust and assemble their own pizza. The playful teasing over who could roll the best crust created our own Norman Rockwell version of the blended family. Although they still had moments of being sullen teenagers, there was always laughter in the kitchen.

As the years went by, my husband and I taught the kids how to cook. We emphasized that quality ingredients—such as fresh herbs, homemade sauces and the finest flour—are the cornerstone of any great dish. My husband and I spent much of our time on weekends in the kitchen, and the kids got to see firsthand that cooking together is a shared experience that can be as fun as it is tasty.

Just before my ten-year anniversary, my husband was killed in a car accident. I never dreamed that I’d be a widow in my thirties, and I wondered how my life could possibly go on without him. As much as I was hurting, I also I worried that the bond I’d created with my step-kids would be shattered without him. To get off my own pity wagon, I invited the kids over for dinner. My oldest stepson shyly asked if I would make his favorite rosemary focaccia bread. I felt so honored that I forgot to be sad. I poured all of my emotions into making that loaf of bread, as I wanted them feel all the love I had for them as they tasted each bite. We had such a great time together that I resumed a monthly pizza night. Soon the laughter returned as we got our hands sticky with dough and stole bites of everyone else’s pizza. Life seemed normal again as we competed with one another to see who had created the yummiest pizza.

My stepdaughter is now the pastry chef at an upscale restaurant. Because she experienced fun in the kitchen, she realized that cooking can be a joyful expression of love rather than a necessary chore. Although we miss my husband terribly, our favorite memories of him are when we baked together in the kitchen. By continuing to bake together, we allow his legacy to live on.

reply by: Suzanne Butler on November 04, 2010 at 2:02 pm
Suzanne Butler

When I was a child, a tray piled high with Christmas cookies was just as appealing as a visit from Santa. With their enchanting designs, German Springerles were my favorite. When I became an elementary school teacher and was living in Germany, I asked to help at my neighborhood bakery so I could experience baking these treasures first-hand. The lessons I learned 45 years ago about the importance of using quality flour, fresh eggs and pure oils are still invaluable to me today. Well before the holiday baking season begins, family and friends place their requests for my Springerles, even specifying which designs they'd like to have on their cookies. Before the 12 Days of Christmas have concluded, my most diehard fans start talking about how delightful it would be to receive an Easter basket filled with springtime-design Springerles. Thanks to King Arthur's Queen Guinevere cake flour and natural anise oil, I'm keeping my reputation as a skillful - and sought-after - Springerle baker!

reply by: Betsy B on November 05, 2010 at 4:32 pm
Betsy B

When this tea-party-loving city girl moved to a small country town four years ago, King Arthur Flour scone and muffin/quickbread mixes were the secret ingredient to meeting members of my new community. Sharing a new flavor of teatime treat with a coworker, neighbor or fellow churchgoer not only gave me an opportunity to put my King Arthur scone pan, Wedgwood tea service, and antique linens and tea cart to use while sharing my home with others, but also enabled me to introduce dozens of people to the King Arthur catalog. Some 50 tea parties later, I had secured my claim to fame as King Arthur’s unofficial ambassador. Now that I’m back living in my hometown, I have identified a way to make some new friends, again with King Arthur's help. After reading Victoria magazine’s “Magic in the Making” article about King Arthur’s bread-making classes, I’m inspired to try my hand at King Arthur’s yeast bread mixes and share the results with residents of my community whom I’d enjoy getting to know better!

reply by: Araviel on November 06, 2010 at 3:03 am
Araviel

I remember baking at home as a child, or rather my Mother was doing the baking, I was standing on a stool and being allowed to stir cookie dough. Sometimes, I was allowed to lick the spoon while eagerly awaiting the finished product. I also remember that, at some point for some reason I'm still unsure of, the baking stopped. Homemade items were replaced with the convenience of store bought items. Thus, I learned to base my food choices on their convenience.
Since I left home, my diet had been based on convenience foods: Chinese take out, pizza, store bought cookies, etc., and even when I'd lived at home portion control was out of the window. Something had to give and as it turns out, it was my waistline. At 200+lbs I began a journey that has lead me to today.
First, I discovered is that eating healthfully is time consuming and expensive! Convenience foods are cheap. The sweets I was accustomed to were cheap and varied in flavor, the healthy versions were more limited in flavors and expensive. I found that although I could feed my sweet tooth, I was going to have to give up on some of my favorites in order to do so. It was difficult at times, but in the end I kept with it. 90+lbs later, I am at my goal weight! I have learned a new way of eating and the core of it is cooking at home rather than convenience foods.
About six months ago, I decided that I was tired of the few options I'd had available over the last 2-3 years. I needed a way I could incorporate the many and varied flavors of baked goods back into my life. I came to the conclusion that, in order to do so, I was going to have to take up baking.
At first, I used boxed mixes and scoured cookbooks and the internet for ideas. Along the way I discovered many substitutions that would allow for me make baked goods that are much more manageable for my waste line. Boxed mixes can be nearly as expensive as buying the finished products, so about a month ago, I began experimenting without the boxed mix as my base. Since then I feel like things have really taken off! I search for recipes that look yummy and then I set to figuring out what I can do to cut the extra fat and calories out of them without cutting out the parts that made them look yummy in the first place. Recipe searching is how I discovered the King Arthur Flour website. As a result I was able to come up a healthy version of English muffin loaf! These days when I'm enjoying baked goods, I've been feeling a sense of pride and satisfaction at a job well done rather than guilt.

reply by: ctthorne on November 09, 2010 at 11:47 am
ctthorne

My story about learning to cook started at age 11. My mother suffered with Alcoholism and that year, found herself in the hospital, in rehab. It was the longest 6-8 weeks in my life. My brother was 2.5 years older than me, and had no intention of helping out at home, and my sister was 2.5 years younger than me, and not old enough to do so. I found myself coming home at 3:30 after school and then putting together a meal for the family. Now, remember, I am only 11, so Hamburger Helper was my savior at that time. I would pull out a box or two and fix it with a vegetable. My father would rave about my efforts that night that it just fueled my desire to continue to cook.
I then started looking at my mom’s recipes and took on baking. First it was an Apple Crisp, then Lemon Squares, or an old family recipe, War Chocolate Cake. Every time I would bake, my Grandmother would comment on how wonderful it was that a man would cook.
The rest is history. I love to cook… but not for myself. I do it to please others. Every Christmas and Thanksgiving, while the rest of the men are out watching football, I am in the kitchen helping my sister with the meal, making a Curried Butternut Squash Soup or Cornbread Sausage Stuffing for the Turkey. Because of this, I had a wonderful relationship with my mother because we cooked together and it became a enjoyed and shared activity.
We, my mom and I, started to compete with each other on whose Toffee was better. I would use a combination of Semi-sweet and Milk Chocolate while my mom used Semi-sweet. In the end, she would always concede mine was better, but this memory has helped me with the loss of her two years ago.
As I hinted at, my sister and I have taken up where my mom and I left off with. Now I cook the holidays with her. In addition, I am currently dating a wonderful lady, and I find myself in the kitchen helping her and her mother with the cooking.
I know that some might think that this story is harsh on my mom, but I am trying to show that through difficult times, God shapes us and uses those times for good. And in this case, it leads to treasured moments that a football game pales and is forgotten a day later!

reply by: SuzyQue92 on November 06, 2010 at 10:44 pm
SuzyQue92

A little hint of almond, a dash of vanilla, and a few favorite Christmas melodies playing in the background; now that’s a recipe that will instantly take me back to my childhood without fail.

It was our annual Christmas cookie baking day. My sister and I must have been about 9 and 10 years old. My mom was showing us how to separate the dough into equal parts and mix the red food coloring into one portion. Once the mixing was done and the dough had chilled, she taught us how to pinch off a little portion of plain dough and a little portion of red dough. We had to roll each little ball into a “snake” and then gently roll them together in a twist. Next we would shape them into a fat little cookie candy cane. While we toiled with our treasures, we would sing along with Kenny Rogers and Dolly Parton and their “Christmas to Remember” album. That was the only Christmas tape my mom had and we would rewind it and listen to it over and over again. In my memory, the snow is gently falling and my mother is patient and happy and totally in her element. When the cookies would come out of the oven, we had to let them cool before we would transfer them to the rack. If you moved them too soon, the cookie would break right at the curve of the cane. Mom would let us eat those and my sister and I would “accidentally” break enough of the cookies to get our share of samples. The warm cookies were flavored with almond and vanilla instead of peppermint like you would expect from a candy cane-and to me, it was perfection! We worked on cookies all day long and then packaged them on plates to take to neighbors.

It’s such a clear and wonderful memory to me and the combination of sights, tastes, smells, and sounds has imprinted it in my mind like a digital clip on my hard drive.
I can’t imagine a Christmas without candy cane cookies and I’ve taught my children how to roll the dough just so. Of course Grandma’s around too, she has turned her love of baking into a catering business and continues to pass along her culinary wisdom to her grandkids and me. And it wouldn’t be the same without a few tunes from Kenny and Dolly. My sister and I can still belt out every word!

reply by: warnerzzzz on November 07, 2010 at 2:10 pm
warnerzzzz

I am finding it hard to settle on just one special memory I have related to baking, so I will share two brief stories. Here is my first story. One of the cookies I started baking at a young age was molasses sugar cookies. I got the recipe from my grandmother (who lived to be 89), who taught me to chill the dough, form it into small balls, and then roll the balls in sugar before baking. However, her sister (who lived to be 91) insisted that that process was nonsense and claimed that you need not go to all that trouble. Just drop the dough by the spoonful and sprinkle with sugar was her recommendation. Now anytime I bake these cookies, or even think about baking them, I think of them with great fondness and love, and a smile inevitably comes to my face. My second story has to do with making chocolate pies. These were favorite deserts in my family and were always requested when my sister or I were celebrating our birthdays. In the week before my sister died of breast cancer, we made a trip to the shore and I took all our favorite childhood recipes. I made the chocolate pie and whipped up some cream, and we had eaten the entire pie before lunchtime the next day. Now the pie is even more special than before. Foods really are important in our lives.

reply by: warnerzzzz on November 07, 2010 at 2:12 pm
warnerzzzz

I agree!

reply by: Pitterpatter4 on November 07, 2010 at 3:24 pm
Pitterpatter4

Christmas morning, 1967. I unwrap my Easy Bake oven & taking Grandma Helen's hand, so directly to her kitchen. With brief stops for breakfast & Mass, I continue baking until I've gone through all the mixes.

Grandma Helen taught me to take pride in what I bake & to make things look as wonderful as they taste. She was the original perfectionist out of love for her family.

I'm still baking today with the same passion & intensity as when I was 5, although everything has to be from scratch with only the best ingredients, like King Arthur flour. My children's teachers are often the receipients of my baking. Alot of care goes into packaging what I've baked so they have a total experience.

Our 16 year old daughter, Rachel, says she wants to be an entreprenuer like her dad & own a bakery...where we'll bake together. Lucky me! It's music to my heart.

Grandma Helen passed away several years ago but Rachel & I feel her presence when we're in the kitchen baking away.