The most important ingredient is love


I love to cook and bake this time of year. There’s just something about cold winter days that makes the kitchen so inviting. I have cherished memories of my mother cooking special meals for Easter, Thanksgiving and Christmas as well as everyday meals for the family.

Mom also loved to bake. She baked cookies, brownies and cakes. Usually the cake was for a family member’s birthday, but sometimes it was just for fun. The cookie jar always seemed to be full. Anytime my nieces and nephews came over, one of the first things they did was head for the cookie jar (my brother-in-law did, too). Mom loved sending cookies and brownies to me when I was in college and Alaska. She also sent cookies and brownies to my nieces and nephews when they were in college. Years ago, when I worked at a bookstore, Mom used to bring in goodies for the staff on Fridays (that was the day she got her hair done and the beauty salon was next door to the bookstore).

Mom is elderly now and can no longer stand long enough to cook or bake. In fact, she doesn’t even go into the kitchen anymore. Since I live with her, I prepare the meals and I use some of the same pans, dishes and utensils she used when I was growing up. Each item brings back pleasant memories.

I began doing all the cooking when my Dad was still alive. Even though sometimes the last thing I wanted to do was be on my feet in the kitchen, it brought me pleasure to make a meal for my parents. I came to understand why my mom put so much love into the meals she prepared. She was doing it for her family. I consider it an honor to prepare meals for the woman who made countless meals for me and the rest of the family.

My sister inherited my mother’s talent for cooking and baking. I consider myself a good cook and a mediocre baker, but my sister is great at both. She’s always trying something new and it seems like everything she makes turns out perfect. Mom always said my sister must have inherited her ability to make flaky pie crust from our paternal grandmother because she didn’t get it from her.

My sister and I used to swap recipes, but since we both have access to the Internet, we don’t do that much anymore. A lot of the recipes in my collection are from my sister. I can’t help but think of her when I make a recipe she gave me.

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