Tuesday, March 24, 2009


The women in my family (on both sides) are amazing in the kitchen. While both sides of my family can dish up meals that would rival any of Paula Deen's concoctions, I think the women on my father's side get the blue ribbon for baking. I seriously believe it's a generational thing.

I've heard stories about my great-grandmother's (Nana's mother's) tortes, cakes, and pies. They were all so delicious people asked her to bake them for their weddings and other celebratory occasions.

When I was little my favorite place to be at Nana's house was in her kitchen. She had several cookie jars, each one containing a different delicious delicacy. I gazed up at them and slyly said things like, "I wonder what that cookie tastes like." Nana usually caught my drift and answered back with, "would you like to try one and find out." Of course I always nodded "yes."

My Aunt Mary, Nana's daughter, gives out cartons of home-made cookies to all of her family and friends during the holiday season. This carton has at least 20+ different homemade cookies in it, and it's one of my favorite parts of the holiday season. Each cookie is amazing.

Aunt Mary has two sons and I have two brothers, so I'm the only female in the next generation of bakers. This is a position I don't take lightly. I have a lot of live up to! Apparently Nana wanted to make sure the baking gene didn't skip a generation, because my lessons started early in Nana's kitchen. I not only remember sampling from her cookie jars, but helping fill them as well. Here I am, in her kitchen, hard at work, helping her bake cookies.

There were several occasions like this. Each one I was taught something new about baking/cooking. For my sixteenth birthday I received a cookbook from Nana. This cookbook is filled with Nana's famous recipes lovingly written out on recipe cards in Nana's handwriting. Some of the recipes are the tortes/cakes my great-grandmother created for the celebrations she baked for. It's not only a book of recipes, but an important piece of my family history. Of all the cookbooks that fill my shelves, this is the one I turn to the most.

I know I have a long way to go until I'm up-to-par with my great-grandmother's, Nana's, and Aunt's baking abilities, but with each batch of cookies, cake, pie, bread, or torte I make that turns out, I know I'm getting a little closer.

I also know I want to keep the baking gene alive. That's why Tralee is my new helper in the kitchen. I love that Tralee is old enough to understand when I say things like, "pour this in" or "stir this up." It's to the point that if Tralee sees me pull out the mixer, she comes running into the kitchen, pulls a chair up to the counter, and makes herself readily available to help. It's so fun having a daughter I can bake with. I also can't deny the fact that everything Tralee has helped me bake has turned out oh-so-tasty. The most important ingredient of baking is not forgotten when Tralee helps: LOVE.

Yes, my Nana needn't worry, the next generation will do just fine in the kitchen.


Jim said...

Great Promotion and tribute to the culinary skills of the family.


Joni said...

She'll be the best little baker ever!

Hannah S said...

How sweet! I love the red Kitchen Aid. I also love the resemblance in wall paper when you were young and then now.

The Hansen's said...

That is awesome! That is a wonderful talent that I'm sure your husband and friends are glad you are cultivating. Baked goods are the best!

Boom said...

I wonder if NaNa was bawling her eyes out as she read this like I did! Great Pictures! It's also a wonderful tribute to NaNa! Thanks for the memories - past and future!

Mary Ann Carlile said...

Leslie, it has been YEARS since I last ate something that you made, and I couldn't even tell you what it was, but I just remember it all being GREAT! I think you got that family gene for sure!

Andrea said...

Cute little baker you have there!