Cooking, in most families, is when the magic happens. People gather in kitchens no matter how pretty or inviting the rest of the house is. Asking someone about their favorite baking memory or cookie recipe will usually make them light up and smile like you wouldn't believe. Be prepared for the sadness that may come if that memory includes someone who has passed away. Encourage conversation by using easy to answer questions and then lead into the deeper questions. Now let’s make some magic with baking memories!
Audio version of this content
The bakers in your family
One of the bakers in my family is my mom. She bakes the most beautiful pie crusts you have ever seen. It's something she's really good at and genuinely enjoys doing for herself and her friends and family. I can remember watching her baking pies at the holidays growing up and wishing I could get my crusts to be just as perfect and just as flaky. Now, I think I'm a pretty good cook and not a bad baker, but I don't think I will ever be quite the pie baker my mom is. Here's hoping one of my kids has that gene.
Now, the other baker in my family was my granny. When we visited her in Ireland, one of my favorite dishes she would make was Irish soda bread. It wasn't the kind that you would get commercially. I've only ever seen it in grocery stores in Ireland or in very specific pubs and Irish restaurants in America.
She would make Irish soda farls and fry them off in her skillet. You knew it was a good day when you came downstairs and there were eggs, rashers, and soda farls. I'm forever grateful that my parents made traveling to Ireland to see my dad's family a priority in their lives. Who are the bakers in your family?
Baking memories made and remembered
When it comes to baking memories and ones related to cooking or the kitchen, these memories are often strong happy ones. Sometimes there is also sadness and a sense of loss if the person we are thinking of is gone. The passage of time doesn't lessen the loss. The ability to share the memory and make the recipe again hopefully gets easier.
Writing about baking memories and cooking memories can be an entertaining and enlightening experience. When you can, bring in other family members to share in the joy and discovery. I can almost guarantee you will find that each person remembers something different about those baking moments.
Storytelling turned into a legacy
Using baking moments with your family, and kids if you have them, to create storytelling moments by beginning with the story around how you came by the recipe. While I don't remember the specifics of every recipe I've ever received, I do try to write down
- where it came from,
- who gave it to me, and
- whether or not we liked it.
I have an ad hoc system of printed recipes and random cards, with star rating, just like a food critic. I also try to write down why we did and didn’t like something specifically. This way I can shorten my learning curve for the next time I’m creating meals for my family to enjoy.
This is a simple way to make my life easier, but it also has a giant impact on the legacy my children will receive when I’m gone. How many of us have that taste of home we are trying to recreate? But we just can’t seem to nail to flavors? We can make sure that parts of our love stories, and feeding folks is definitely a labor of love, continue on loving our ancestors.
5 minute Storytelling and baking memories
When you are in the kitchen and you have someone else with you, practice sharing the story of the recipe you are cooking. I like to ask the other person if they would like to hear the story and most often they will say yes. If you're really lucky they will follow up and ask a question to get you rolling. In the event they don't, just start with something simple like “the who” or who gave you the recipe/ idea.
If you are in the kitchen with someone who is baking or cooking remember that you can use this as an opportunity to create a storytelling moment or memory by using the 5-minute storytelling Scripts. Following up with the Legacy storytelling method can lead to wonderful storytelling conversations. When you are ready, here are a few starter questions that you can ask to help the conversation along
- Where did the recipe come from?
- Who gave it to you?
- Do you like cooking it and why?
- When was the first time you made the recipe?
- How old is the recipe?
- What is your favorite part of the recipe?
Follow up questions that include emotions and asking a person why they remember this moment or remember the recipe this way will show the other person you care and want to hear more.