Hope Sinks


VeganMoFo: Baking with Grandma
October 2, 2008, 8:53 pm
Filed under: Cooking, Veganism, VeganMoFo | Tags: , , , , , , ,

I got some really crappy news today: my grandma fell and broke her hip this afternoon. Luckily, she happened to have her cell phone (which my dad bought for her and made her learn to use) on her and was able to call 911 from the spot near the back of her yard where she fell. She got to the hospital, and my dad tells me that while she was looking a little grey when he saw her, she’s doing okay and will be having surgery late tonight or sometime tomorrow morning. Anti-serendipitously, I had planned to write about my grandma today (without having known about the accident), following a conversation I had had with my sister, but now it feels like a bigger deal. I’m going to write anyway, but watch this spot, because I’ll very likely revise this entry to do proper justice to the subject. Anyway.

My grandma was born in England in 1922. She was a nurse aide during the second world war and bicycled through the English countryside during the blackouts delivering supplies to various hospitals and medical centres, one time pitching headfirst into a ditch and knocking out some teeth. She became interested in communism following the war and has remained a principled leftist and keen political observer. During the brief time between leases one summer that I lived with her, I was more up on current events (especially local and provincial politics) than I have ever been in my life. Long story short: my grandma is awesome, and I am unmitigated scum for not calling her as often as I should.

Bringing it back to VeganMoFo, though, my grandma was also the person who taught me to bake. Some of my earliest childhood memories are of standing on a footstool at her kitchen counter making jam tarts – tiny, simple tarts made of basic pastry and homemade raspberry jam. Baking jam tarts with my grandma was my absolute, bar-none favorite thing when I was five years old. It’s hard to remember now how much I was actually able to do, but at the time, it seemed like my grandma hardly did any of the work, which meant that I was, at five, a totally awesome baker. Of course, grandma must have done most of the work (I live with a five-year-old now, and she is balls in the kitchen), but she did it in such a way that I felt like I was in charge. I guess the really awesome thing she did was give me confidence, and I am thankful that that confidence in my ability to make food has carried through to today.

I’m not an amazing cook. I’m a pretty good baker and definitely serviceable in the kitchen, but I know when I’m out of my league. I make the odd crappy dish (like the first thing I ever made for my husband and didn’t have any time at all and only had shitty knives and pots and pans, and the kitchen was a mess, and I was so nervous, and my dish sucked so bad, and I was so embarassed oh my god), and I still sometimes have to throw things away and start from scratch, but I’ve never had to deal with the hand-wringing, anxiety-inducing crises of confidence that so many people have when it comes to cooking. Cooking and baking have never been scary to me, and for that, I think I largely have my grandma to thank.

I had meant to post the recipe for those little jam tarts before I found out about the accident, but now I can’t call my grandma to get the pastry recipe she used. Instead, I’ll just have to leave you with a promise to make them tomorrow and admonitions to all call your grandmas, you unappreciative jerks.

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