One of my favourite moments during the Christmas preparations is the one when I finally make it into the kitchen to begin the holiday baking. I have loved the kitchen best of all places since I was a small child, and the time I spend there baking is one of my greatest joys year-round, but the Christmas baking is extra special. It brings me back to my grandmother’s kitchen and the hours I spent watching her work to create incredible flavours and delicious treats for all of us at Christmas. By this time Bami would have made a batch or two of cuplet cakes, yum yum jams, Nanaimo bars, butter tarts, and at least one Christmas pudding in an old Woodward’s jam tin… Although I don’t make the same things as she did, I feel like she is right there baking along with me. Usually I cry a little because I miss her so very much, but then I laugh thinking of the scolding she would give me for adding tears to the batters – all baking should be done with love of course. It makes it more delicious. This year was busier than usual beforehand and I had a bit of a late start but I managed to get a few things done nonetheless… I always make our usual favourites because I know they are simple and delicious, and because it makes me happy to pass along tins of treats to the friends and neighbours who have made our lives a little sweeter throughout the year. My baking still isn’t done but I have had a ton of fun “playing” in the kitchen and tasting all of the old favourites so far. I know the friends and neighbours have enjoyed being on the receiving end of our hard labours too! The tins are stacked up and waiting to go out into the world as goodwill ambassadors so I better get back to it… We are keeping your kitchen legacy going Bami… your spirit lives with us in the love of baking and spending that time together… it is a gift I hope to pass on to my own kids – we are making the world a little sweeter one cookie at a time…
I love to bake. When I am happy, it is a celebration. When I am sad, it is a consolation. When I am pensive, it is an opportunity to think (or not!) and often leads to a new direction or solution. It is my happy place.
I guess my love of “kitchen” comes from my grandmother. (She is also responsible for my love of shoes. More on that another day.)
Bami was the queen of the kitchen. She cooked meals of course, but her cakes and cookies were (without exaggerating) legendary. Christmas time was a flurry of flour and fixings – nanaimo bars, yum yum jams, cuplet cakes…so many sweets and treats that sadly no one makes anymore…
But the most revered item in Bami’s arsenal was the chocolate chip cookie. She would bake these cookies every two weeks or so and send them home for us to snack on as necessary. (Late night cravings, emotional upheavals, unforeseen celebrations, random cookie emergencies…)
A few years before I lost my grandmother to Alzheimer’s I had the chance to write down her chocolate chip cookie recipe. I have taken a few liberties with it over the years – I am sure she would approve – but each time I use it with my own family I feel the connection to my grandmother and her kitchen as strongly as I did when I was a young girl at the table watching her mix and measure so many years ago. It’s an unbreakable cookie connection… The sweetest kind of memory.
Today my children and I indulged in a cookie baking extravaganza. We filled our sink with dishes and our house with the amazing smell – good luck eating just one. There’s a reason these cookies have stood the the test of time – they are delicious! Bami would be so proud.
Preheat oven to 350*.
2c. Brown sugar
1c. White sugar
1 tbsp vanilla
2 pinches salt
2tsp baking soda
4c. Chocolate chips
1 c. Chopped nuts
Mix , spoon onto cookie sheets and bake at 350* for 12-14 minutes.