Saturday, December 11, 2010

Home With a Good Smelling Kitchen For Christmas

I'm a little wistful today. 

When my girls were little bitty, a group of moms started an annual Christmas baking tradition.  In early December, we would meet in one of our kitchens -- usually mine because I had a double oven in those days -- while the kids were in pre-school.  We'd laugh and enjoy a little fruit of the vine and make treats to share with kids' teachers (both educational-wise and dance school), friends, and family.  One year it even snowed on Baking Day!

Some recipes became annual must-do, but we always seemed to try a new one or another, and some of those became new-must-do (especially "Christmas Crack," a delightfully addictive cereal-based sweet that also involves peanut butter, dark chocolate, and mounds of powdered sugar. Yum.)  There were Amaretto Balls, Soda Cracker Toffee, Peanut Butter Cup Temptations, Peppermint Coffee Mix, Lemon Nut Cakes, Creme de Menthe Bites, and other goodies.  Obviously, this endeavor consumed most of a day, and since there was usually all-day fruit of the vining, the husbands knew (1) not to expect a home-cooked meal that night and (2) to be on-call for carpool pick-up and potential designated driver duty. 

The cast of Bakers changed over the years as some people moved away and others joined in.  We moved from (cheap and nasty) Kringle White Zinfandel to decent wine to diet soft drinks and back to wine, mulled or otherwise.  Carpool duty became less of a concern at Moogie's house as time marched on because my kids (and some of the others' kids) were able to walk to and from school in the later elementary years when crossing guards were added to Fulbright Elementary's staff, and a bus took them to and from Dunbar Junior High.  They were on their own in high school! 

As the kids matriculated into college, they joined the ranks of Junior Bakers when home on Christmas break (it was still called Christmas break back then instead of Winter Break.  Egad.), and Bud Light was added to the "beverage of choice" list. 

We even managed to put Baking Days together after Moogie moved to New Orleans, usually in Little Rock -- but we did one travelling year to Hardy at JB's Bed & Breakfast.   Of course, that meant a change in Little Rock kitchens, but that was okay because we went to Diane's kitchen and I knew it as well as my own. 

Now, in addition to Moogie being in New Orleans, others are in Hong Kong and Chicago, and of course JB moved to Heaven, so it's harder to pull off.  Some of us have spoken recently about trying to do a Baking Day in Little Rock after Christmas when New Orleans, Chicago and Hong Kong will all be in town (and JB's always watching over us and making suggestions!).  It'll be a wonderful time, catching up and helping me put together treats for the swarms of people that will invade Moogie's Mansion for the Sugar Bowl!

So, why am I wistful today?

My cousin did a blog post about her Gingerbread baking day, and my girls and their friends held their very own Baking Day at Elder Daughter's house today!  They even used some of the must-do recipes! 

And they did it without me.

I hear Home calling me, louder and louder all the time.  Can you hear it?


  1. Awwww... i definitely think a baking day is in order for your buddies. Maybe... it could become like one of those "sewing groups" our mother's gen used to have where no sewing took place (never understood that one...ha).
    I understand the home sickness you feel when you are away. I felt it when I lived in Mobile...which I loved and loved the people but my roots in Arkansas were so deep that I knew "there was no place like home".

  2. Especially around the holidays. I'm still a little pouty today, so I think I must bake something. That'll at least make the house smell like "home!"

  3. I hear Home calling me, louder and louder all the time. Can you hear it?

    Yes. Yes, I can. That's one of those things that's either a curse or a blessing of being "of a certain age." There's also that other old sayin'... "You can never go home again." Which, in my case, is quite literally true. There's no home to go to in the physical sense and the metaphysical sense as well. (sigh)

    A great post, Moogie. You made me a lil wistful, as well.

  4. Have a cookie, Buck!! I'm firing up the oven as I type!

  5. Baking and drinking sounds wonderful. I used to do more of that sort of thang when the kids were little. I tell myself that when my kitchen is finished, I will bake more - maybe have the grand girls over...

  6. Make yourself do it, Lou! I even enjoyed myself in the kitchen today with the company of just dogs!

  7. Made me cry. Loved it! As you can see I am up at an ungodly time. I guess I'm excited. I'm all packed!