In my first two novels chronicling my mother Velma’s life, Where Courage Began and Road to Resilience, baking played a major role. It helped their family survive after the untimely death of her father, William. Mother Alice scrapped out a living in the small town of Woodward, Iowa in large part on the strength of her award-winning baking skills.
During the course of many conversations with my mother in the last of her 102 plus years, she would grace me with many stories about this part of her life. And I had the privilege of enjoying many of Grandma’s finest creations first hand, especially her wonderful cinnamon rolls. Many of Alice’s baking delights and other menu favorites were a regular part of my growing up. I even learned some of those recipes and still make them today.
At one point, I had accumulated several of my grandmother’s kitchen utensils. Slowly over the years and numerous moves however, those antiques slowly disappeared. Now the only thing that I know for sure came from Grandma Alice via my mother is the wire pastry blender pictured here. It was easy to find, because I still use it myself.
My mother used this pastry blender in 1950 to make pie crusts while I watched. When the pies went in the oven, she would let me roll out the trimmed dough from around the edge, cover it with soft butter, sugar, and cinnamon, and bake it into what we called dough-floppy. We’d have it waiting, or what was left after I’d gorged myself, for my older brothers when they got home from school. What a sweet memory!
I wonder how many of you have items from your parents or grandparents still around? Do you know what they are, and still use them? What memories do they conjure up for you? Each time I see this wire pastry blender, it mixes up a dough of loving memories for me. Many of those memories have found their way into my first books about my mother, and will continue to be woven into the final two books of my quartet.