Friday, December 9, 2011

Staying Home to Bake

There were LOTS of sales to go to today, but I decided not to go to any.  The weather helped me with that decision -- it was snowing and slippery, so there was no reason to drive 20-30 miles to look at stuff that wasn't even calling my name. 
So I stayed home to bake and, oh, do I love to bake!   I learned everything I know about baking from my grandmother, whom we called Ningle. 
She lived with us from just a few weeks after I was born and was my main caregiver, because my mom worked.  Ning was one of the best bakers around!  Yesterday was her birthday (she was born in 1891) so I've been thinking about her a lot.  Her mother died when Ning was only 13, and she became the 'mom' at her house, in charge of the cooking & housekeeping for herself, her dad and her brother.  Her father sent her to Fleischmann's (the yeast people) cooking school, which wasn't like a culinary school would be now, but more like a high school home ec class would be.  I still have the cookbook that she used there.
Fleischmann's cooking school book
I think part of the reason we all love Christmas cookies so much is that they connect us with the past.  When I make different cookies I remember the people I loved who liked those cookies best -- my dad liked Hermits (if you're not German, you might not know what those are), my mom liked Mexican Wedding Cakes and Ning liked Springerles (also German).  Baking them sort of keeps them alive in my memory. 
My family's original Hermit recipe, cut out of the paper in the 50s -- it's the one I still use
I also use some of the old implements I grew up with!  This nut grinder is the same one I used at home as a little girl 'helping' to make the cookies.  Turning the crank was my first helper-job, just as it was the first job I gave my boys when they were little.   My guys thought it was really funny when we'd go to antique malls and they'd see the nut grinder we had at home for sale as an 'antique'.   
See the silverplate spoon next to it?  Look at the end of the bowl -- it's completely flattened from running it around pans and bowls.  It was Ningle's favorite cooking spoon and it has been like that for as long as I can remember.  It's so precious to me!
So today I was really happy that I got a chance to just catch up on some Christmas prep and do some baking.  The Mexican Wedding Cakes & Hermits are finished and the cut-out sugar cookie dough is chilling in the fridge.  Happy Birthday, Ningle!


Saphy said...

what lovely memories. thank you for sharing.

Sandie said...

Oh your spoon! How precious! Sweet Memories. Thank you for sharing them with us! Merry Christmas.

Bargain Hunting Treasure Seeker said...

Sweet and precious memories! I remember my first "job" when I got to help my grandma with Christmas cookies...cutting gumdrops in half with a pair of kitchen scissors for her gumdrop cookies!

Loo xx from Jumbles and Pompoms said...

A really lovely post. Thank you for sharing.

Lakota [Faith Hope and Charity Shopping] said...

Really enjoyed this post, so lovely. I guess Ningle didn't have non-stick pans, huh? That spoon is great, I have my gran's cake tin and have taken over the job of making the Christmas cake from her now as she finds it too tiring standing for so long in the kitchen.

Never heard of hermits but they certainly look good!

crit said...

this made me cry.

Jill said...

I think as we get older we get so much more sentimental - lovely post!!

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