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Birth of a Baker

As an adult, I’ve been known to bake enough cookies to feed the Third Army, and sometimes it feels like that’s what I’m doing. Yes, my daughter and I bake dozens of loaves of Pumpkin Bread each year for Christmas, as I mentioned in an earlier post. However, the cookie baking goes on throughout the year, twice each week. It’s like painting the Golden Gate Bridge.

So how did this obsession begin? Maybe it was the fancy mud pies I baked in the sun, covered in my post called “Mud Slinging.”  But probably it began on Christmas Day, 1953. I point to the picture of me, holding my prized gift—a cake mix set. Okay, so maybe I wasn’t Betty Crocker Junior, but it was a start to my life-long preoccupation with all things baked. And an easy one at that.

My mother sent the photo to my sister, who was living in California at the time, with her husband, as he finished up his stint in the Marine Corps. My set had been a gift from her, as was the handbag (aka pocketbook) shown at the upper right corner of the card table with our family loot on display. I chuckle at the carton of Pall Mall cigarettes and a pair of white socks for my dad. Maybe Santa didn’t think my dad had been especially good that year. 

By way of back story: we opened our presents on Christmas Eve, so to us, Christmas morning, was “the day after,” without much happening. The Inman’s, next door, must have done the same, since my frequent playmate, Bonnie, was at loose ends too.

The next picture shows me icing my first creation and wearing my new “cobbler” apron, as my mother called it. I have a feeling it came hot off her sewing machine, since she mentioned it on the back of the picture. Bonnie, meanwhile, is waiting patiently for her payoff. 

The last photo shows Bonnie and me enjoying our feast. The little cake pans are abandoned, empty on the counter, beneath my mom’s trusty dish drainer. Remember; this was a woman who fed a family of five, three meals a day for years and never owned a dishwasher.

This was probably the beginning of it all: earning baking badges in Girls Scouts and baking assignments for 4-H.

I tell myself there are worse hobbies, if only this Old School type could find something NON-FATTENING to bake . . . .


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