Memoir & Life Stories

Photo Prompt #41: Baking with memories

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Baking with memories

It is funny how the sight of any of gram’s belongings can draw up memories from my youth.

Several of Gram’s cookbooks line my bookshelf. She was a wonderful cook. However, it isn’t the store bought cookbooks that I cherished, although they are important to me, it’s her hand written recipes. Those recipes were the ones she was best known for and the ones I enjoyed learning from her over the years. Her apple pie during the holidays would fill the house with that pleasurable smell of baked apples and cinnamon. Berry season in the summer promised that mouth-watering smell of homemade jams: raspberry, strawberry, sometimes grape, and peach. One of her best known treats was her banana bread, a recipe that I had worked hard to master.

That ripe banana smell is thickening in the air as I mash 3 ripe bananas into a paste with a bit of baking powder. The smell calls to mind the cottage as the sun streamed in through the open windows casting patterns on the brown carpet. Gram’s banana bread was cooling on the cream tiled counter, the warm scent of it caused saliva to pool in my mouth. I was eager to cut into the warm bread and watch the butter melt on it before I took that first savory bite that had hints of banana blended with softened chocolate. With a smile at the fresh memory I move to set my bowl aside.

Creaming the sugar and butter together I can see her hands moving with an action so much like my own movements. The difference being I am alone in the kitchen with only the memory of her, the memory of being perched on chair peeking over the counter at the bowl where she was creating a smooth paste while she talked happily with me. Her familiarity with the kitchen and the recipe was so great that she walked through the steps without thought or pause: 2 eggs beaten, 3 cups of flour, 1 ½ teaspoons of baking soda, salt, nuts, and sour milk. It is the best banana bread I had ever tasted.

I place my own bread into the oven, the glass pans I use are a contrast to my recollection of the past. Gram’s well used metal pans were tinged with age and wear and they take the forefront of my mind. The image of them is so sharp that I can almost see them sitting on my own counter. Gram always used two long pans for her banana bread. She made one with chocolate chips for me and a second one with nuts.

By Shari Marshall – 2020