This year, the children helped me bake about 15 dozen different kinds of cookies, 2 pies, dinner rolls, and cinnamon rolls for Christmas morning. We divided the cookies into tins and delivered them on Sunday to our new neighbors – hoping to share some Christmas joy and introduce ourselves as well! My fantastic cook/computer programmer of a husband baked a marvelous New York Style Cheesecake that I can’t wait to cut into later today.
I’m as comfortable baking as I am writing or being a mom, so even though I hold plenty of gluten-guilt, I continue to bake for my children and for me. There is something about the smells of bread, cookies or cakes baking that makes me feel like I’m doing what I’m supposed to be doing. It makes me feel like a mom.
My grandmother was (and still is) my guide to baking. She was the undisputed queen of the Christmas cookie – and I still have yet to find the majestic Anise-flavored cookie recipe that lulled me back to her table over and over again. She was also a self-taught master Chocolatier and baked a gingerbread house so detailed that whenever I looked inside at the candy-coated furniture, I was entranced. My grandmother was a master baker before there was Food TV and looking back, I know that that’s where my love of all things sweet and savory began.
She used to send us boxes filled with chocolate-covered filled eggs for Easter and the most amazing truffles and filled candies for Christmas. She even MADE the sugar decorations that went on top – little Candy Canes, Christmas Wreaths and Christmas Trees – all made of sugar.
I spent hours and hours with my grandmother. She babysat me, took me on outings and as I grew up, became a trusted friend. I loved driving with her in her Oldsmobile, listening to her tell the “old people” to get off the road.
Her love of cooking and baking was only surpassed by her love for Rod Stewart and I am so proud that I was able to take her to two of his concerts, narrowly missing a soccer ball for her to take home.
Although she never had a lot of money, you would never have known it. We pushed carts through grocery stores with abandon and when I was a page in D.C. my junior year of high school, she would visit me with bags full of groceries. My grandmother, who lived in Baltimore, loved to grocery shop and buy all the “new” things that she knew a bunch of a teenagers would eat, but she and her husband never would. My roommates looked forward to her visits as much as I did.
Granny – which is what I called for as long as I can remember (by her request, I later learned) – shared with me a love of snow (although she wouldn’t go out in it), Christmas, children and food. I wish I had appreciated the gifts she gave me when I was getting them, but I hope she knows I appreciate them now – and strive everyday to make my children’s lives as fun and full of joy as she made mine.
Merry Christmas Granny! I will eat my daily chocolate, play a little Rod Stewart and celebrate Christmas with abandon in honor of – and largely because of – you.