I have been going through old recipes lately, enjoying memories of my mom’s famous cooking, and especially, her baking. Seeing my mother’s handwriting on these well-used, stained, time-yellowed index cards is, in a word, overwhelming.
My mom, Ginny, died of Alzheimer’s Disease in 2003. I miss her in the way that you miss someone after 18 years… my memories are sometimes sharp, but often a little fuzzy and out of focus. Seeing these old recipes has brought her back to me; I hear her laugh, I see her smile. I feel her love.⠀⠀
This year, I plan to once again spend summer solstice, June 20, baking in honor of my mom to raise awareness and funds for the Alzheimer’s Association. Now, I know baking for Alzheimer’s Disease may seem kind of ironic. Sugar is certainly not advisable for anyone who is hoping to reduce their risk of Alzheimer’s, or any disease for that matter.⠀ ⠀
But I think you have to look beyond the baked goods to the act of baking itself. We bake to nourish more than the body; we bake to nourish the soul. Birthday cakes, holiday treats, apple pies in the fall, and berry crisps in the summer are gifts. Goodies like these mark occasions; they bring us together to celebrate the big things and the small things in life. Creating something passed down from your loved ones is, quite literally, an act of baking memories.
My mother was not a wealthy woman. She didn’t leave us diamonds and pearls; she left us apricot cookies and apple strudel and nut roll. This is her legacy.⠀
I have gotten out of the habit of hand-writing recipes – like most people, I bookmark my favorite recipes online, and when I do create something original, I tend to make a note on my phone. I’m going to be more intentional about putting at least some of our family favorites down in writing; even though my handwriting is pretty atrocious, I think it will mean something to my children to see my chicken-scratch someday.
I hope you will consider creating a few special recipe cards, too. Think about them as gifts that you are leaving for your family. Make those memories. They are truly more precious than gold.⠀