One year for Christmas, I made her a life-sized toddler boy doll to hold the place of her grandson-to-be. She dressed him in an Iowa Hawkeyes warm-up suit and bought him his own snow shovel, which I’m sure she intended to pass on to our real little boy someday. She even took the doll on a bus ride to show her friends. She was really starting to worry me a bit by then.
The biggest thing I wish my mom could have shared with my kids was her cooking.
She grew up on an Iowa farm during the Great Depression as one of 11 children. Her mother was confined to a wheelchair, so the girls in the family had to start cooking at a very young age. There were always extra workers to feed, so Mom learned to make large, hearty meals. They made all their own bread, as well as an abundance of cakes, pies and cookies.
She never quite got away from making huge meals. She cooked as if we were a family of more than a dozen, instead of a family of six. When she made cookies, she quadrupled the recipes, putting hundreds of cookies to cool on the kitchen table. She really did need to make that many, because my dad would take a dozen in his lunch box to work every day. You’d think he would have had a serious weight problem, but he was lucky to be thin his entire life.
The cookies we kids liked best consisted of chocolate-coated frosted flakes. I haven’t made these for my kids yet, but I have a feeling they’d be a big hit.
Mom’s to-die-for cinnamon rolls were famous throughout the neighborhood. When the windows were open in the summer and the smell of the cinnamon and sugar wafted from house to house, people would start forming a line at our side door. Mom would make up trays for each family, and I’d deliver to those who didn’t get their notice on the breeze.
My brother’s kids called mom Grandma Lefse, after the Norwegian flatbread she made every Christmas. I’ve tried making it myself, but it can’t measure up to the memory of the buttered and sugared treat my brother, sisters and I looked forward to every year.
It’s amazing how vivid the food memories are from my childhood. And while we’re more health-conscious now and I don’t make sweets like my mom did, I hope I’m creating the same feelings for my kids.
Get in touch SHARON RAGHAVACHARY is a former Crescenta Valley Town Council member and on the steering committee for Crescenta Valley Community Assn. She may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.