Monday, August 2, 2010

Love Connections

Eight glass pie plates, 3 small bundt pans, 1 four-cup measuring cup, 2 glass stacking bowls with lids, 8 plastic storage bins. This is part of my inheritance from Grandma Okland, my husband's maternal grandmother. While washing them tonight, I was struck with the link I now share with my husband's family. There is still a little flour left in one of the bins. I can't help but think that her hand had reached in that bin not too long ago while making one of her many treats. It's a lovely reminder of one of the connections Grandma Okland and I had - baking. When she found out that I loved to bake, she shared her recipes for thumbprint cookies and oatmeal bars with me. All written in her hand.

Family recipes, stories, and dishes (especially bowls) have always had a special place in my heart. My mom still has the tin pans that were specifically made, by the tinsmiths in town, for her mother when she married. The tinsmith asked what dimensions she wanted and he made them to order. My mom loves to make some of Nana's recipes in those tins, like Food for the Gods.

When my mom married, she didn't want any china or fancy dishes. She wanted a set of heavy pottery dishes with flowers drawn in the surface - certainly not the dainty china of afternoon teas and holiday meals. In time, though, she inherited the Spode china from my Nana and, when she married my stepfather, beautiful serving pieces from his family.

Our holiday table is a thing of beauty: Aunt Elizabeth's glasses, Nana's china, Grams' silver serving dishes and silver salt cellars grace the table. I now have a set of beautiful china from my mother-in-law that has been passed down through the generations. And, I have the dishes from Grandma Ginny, my dad's mother. I'm overrun, happily, with all sorts of memories which have landed on my table.

I have built my business, Bramblewood, on the foundation of a family recipe and techniques learned from my mom. The shortbread recipe I use is from a book of family recipes, all written in my Nana's hand. Every time I offer a piece of shortbread to a customer, I feel like I'm sharing a part of my family with them.  Sounds like a cliche, but it's true. I often think of the invisible umbilical cord that connects my daughter to me, me to my mom, my mom to her mother, and so on. The dishes and recipes we share add a tangible love to that connection.  

So, I think I'll find the recipe for Grandma Okland's thumbprint cookies and bake a batch this weekend. I'll teach that recipe to my kids in the hope that they'll continue our love of baking and sharing.

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