Average Jane

Baking Mama Proud: Purim Edition

There is no better feeling than texting my mother a picture of the hamantashen I just baked, then receiving a phone call frantically asking where it disappeared to on her phone and explaining that it didn’t magically disappear but, rather, it’s just “inside the text message.”

Perhaps I should have started with, “There’s no better feeling than baking hamantashen.”

My funniest, “funnest,” fondest memories growing up are in the kitchen with my family. My mom was an incredible cook and a better baker. Apart from time driving to and from sporting events, peeling apples for my mom’s infamous apple pies are some of the only memories I have of quality time with my dad. We’d peel, he’d cut, mom made the crust and when no one was looking would poke a design into the top of the pie so when it came out it bore a special message – a barely legible “happy birthday!” or a malformed turkey was typical. She made lopsided cakes and oozing cookies — they were absolutely perfect. Because she made them. And she made them for me.

As if prowess in the kitchen was a privilege and not a birthright, I wasn’t born with baking in my soul. My attempt at making flan for my 5th grade spanish class was an epic(urean) fail. I served it to the class anyway, burnt caramel and all. But she stood next to me and made me feel like I was the best baker in the world, doing her best to fix my mess without discouraging me from stepping foot into the kitchen again.

At some point in my mid-20’s, I hit my stride. Slowly but surely, I realized that there was a certainly zen in baking. The precise measurements (which I often take liberties with), the clean kitchen covered in flour and sugar and chocolate, the hot kitchen and the twitchy smoke detector, the prayer that it will all come out OK. Then they do. Or they don’t.

But I always tell my mom. I can’t wait to. It’s her legacy to me – an ability to bring smiles to the faces of family and friends and strangers alike with perfectly imperfect treats that look like hell and taste like heaven.


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