There's nothing like baking and cooking to bring back memories. Certain foods, certain tastes and food-related scents, lift me directly back to moments from my past.
So, I wasn't terribly surprised that my daughter, Maya, asked about those "green trees" my co-worker baked for us last Christmas. She loved those spritz cookies, and, like a good mom, I agreed to make them for her this year. We had a great time on Sunday evening, though I still don't like the taste of that particular cookie! Maya was a great supervisor, as well as official egg-cracker, dough-taster, and sprinkle-placer. I'm sure this is one of our holiday traditions from this Christmas forward.
Since baking the cookies, I've been thinking a lot about my memories of food.I have my Grandma Miller's (Mom's mom) original version of this reprint of the 1950 Betty Crocker's Picture Cook Book. I also have a more recent version of the Betty Crocker's Cookbook that we received as a wedding gift from my friend Shane in 1996. Maya and I consulted both cookbooks before making our spritz cookies.
While baking, I thought about times past with my grandmothers, who were very different people.
Grandma Miller made the most fantastic angel food cake and fried chicken I've ever had. Oh, to taste either one again! I don't remember ever helping her cook, though I remember standing at the sink and doing dishes in a large steel basin placed inside the sink. That's when I thought doing dishes was fun! Grandma Miller must have learned her cooking skills from her own mother because Mom talks about (my) Great-Grandma Bolton making homemade taffy and ribbon candy, as well as some kind of pudding. Mom also makes the raisin cream pie for her birthday every year that her mom always made for her, though I just don't think the taste is the same to Mom.
Grandma Courtright (Dad's mom) wasn't really a cook, per se, maybe partly because (my) Great-Grandma Green died when she was so young. Grandma Courtright also married young. I just don't think she really learned how to cook before starting her own household. She added a stick of margarine to roast, which I still don't understand. She had a green thumb, though, and I can smell her roses even now. Plus, I can taste her frozen, home-grown strawberries. I can't get my iced tea, which is my favorite drink, to taste the way hers did, try as I do. Even now, Little Debbie oatmeal cookies from the freezer and Wrigley's gum remind me of visits to her house.
I guess Christmas, in general, makes me think about times past and loved ones who are gone. I miss them, and I cherish the memories. And I also wonder what they would have been if they had lived as part of my generation--probably a physician or attorney for Grandma Miller, who was a teacher, and probably upper-management or drill sergeant for Grandma Courtright, who didn't work outside of the home. Maybe they wouldn't have had so much time for angel food cake and growing plants and flowers, and maybe that would have meant a big loss for my life.
For nostalgia factor alone, my overall rating of any and all Betty Crocker Cookbooks is an A+.