The truth is I just love to bake! Oh, I can do a lovely soup and a few lofty tricks on a stovetop, but my preference is to put something in the oven once I’ve mixed it up, and then open the oven door at the prescribed time and have it turn into something all together different. The transformation of it is irresistible. “”I’ve done my part; now, you, Fire, do yours!” It’s a miracle! Imagine!
I am always finding excuses to make something. This month I must find uses for the many delicious apples literally falling off my backyard tree, like apple crisp made with oats. And the freshly picked peaches from Jo Gowan’s orchards such as a yummy peach and blackberry cobbler. (And last year it was the bizillion pumpkins that took over the back yard completely.)
I have not tackled the quince bushes yet. They will fall to the wayside, once again, I fear. Next year. But third week is Dad’s birthday and I have promised him a pound cake with a sweet citrus drizzle and this morning I am making peanut butter cookies to place in a colorful fall basket and mail down to North Hollywood to my beautiful, darling daughter. A girl needs cookies, right?
Long ago, ages ago, decades ago, in fact, I was a baker. (I would scarce use the word professional, though I was paid, in fact. And I have fantasized about sitting in a little unobtrusive booth at the Farmer’s Market, utterly anonymously, selling slices of banana bread and cookies to the attendees. I’m sure the children would love it. And I once had an inspiration when I lived in Mill Valley to add to the coffers of my single motherhood by “starting a business” called Dial-a-Pie, whereby folks in Mill Valley could call me up at a moment’s notice and I would pop a delicious pie in the oven and deliver it to them an hour or so later. You can see the impracticality of that. But it was a good name, you must admit.)
Anyway, way long ago, in Amsterdam, I was one of the bakers at a vegetarian restaurant called The Garden, ironically, and I was there on occasion early early in the freezing mornings, making banana pies with whipped cream, vege pies, and Power Cake, a recipe from The Farm in Tennessee. If my daughter was not in school that day she would accompany me and would amuse herself, sometimes, with dough, and once even made her own cookies which we sold as Antonia’s Cookies that day. She was thrilled and this had a lasting impression upon her, I know.
Moms, and Dads, I do hope you allow your children to bake! It is ever so easy and fun. It is devastating to my heart and soul when I see ads on tv of “mothers” hacking away at some dreadful roll of suspect dough just come out of a plastic tube, full of who knows what (nothing good, I assure you), surrounded by unwitting “happy” children.
Teach them to measure! What better way should they learn the importance of quantity than if the end result be a yummy frosted cupcake made by their own hand? Give them the joy of making a mess, of being creative, of licking out the bowl. (Oh, please tell me you are not letting them lick from those cardboard containers of instant frosting from the market!) And what better place to learn the value of making a mistake if the recipe said one cup of flour and the result was too dry from adding more?
It is a sad truth that our children, as well as ourselves, are far too disconnected from the source of our sustenance.
But enough of that.
If the remedy might be found even in small part in clearing the kitchen table and digging out a few pots and pans, a bowl or two and a measuring cup and some spoons, how hard is that? Here is my Grandmother’s old recipe for snicker-doodles to get you started.
Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
Cream in a larger bowl:
2 sticks of real butter (must be softened to room temperature)
1 1/2 cups of sugar
2 teaspoons of real vanilla extract
Sift together in second, smaller bowl:
2 1/2 cups of all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons cream of tartar
1 teaspoon of baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
Blend dry ingredients to butter/sugar mixture.
(Now the fun bit!)
Scoop spoonfuls of dough and roll between the palms of your hands into 1″ balls. Then roll each ball around on a plate in which you have combined 2 tablespoons of sugar and 2 teaspoons of cinnamon. Place balls 2″ apart on an ungreased cookie sheet and bake 8-10 minutes. [Tip: place cookie dough in frig while you are awaiting ones in oven! Thanks, Mary!] Remove from oven. Remove cookies straightaway from cookie sheet with spatula and place on a cooling rack.
Posted on September 13th, 2007 by Kathryn
Filed under: People at Play