Growing up in the Kitchen
Some of my most fondest and earliest childhood memories come from the kitchen. When I was old enough to hold onto an object, I was given wooden spoons and pots to bang. When I could manipulate objects, my wooden spoon was introduced to a bowl and I helped stir cookie dough, dumpling mix, and cake batter. When I was steady enough on my feet, I got to use the kitchen stool to reach the counter to help roll out cinnamon buns and cut cookie dough out with cookie cutters.
My “milestones” in growing were always matched and celebrated with another task I could perform in the kitchen. We joke that one of my earliest memories of my grandmother on my dad’s side was learning to “correctly” stir the Swedish rice pudding. I was kneeling on a stool and stirring when she came up behind me and scared me half to death. I had been stirring clockwise and the secret to her rice pudding was to only stir it counter-clockwise. It certainly made a lasting impression on me because I have a habit of stirring everything counter-clockwise, just in case.
I loved growing up in the kitchen. Having flour on my nose and flour hand-prints on my apron were the best things in the world to me. Now with a niece that is just learning to talk and beginning to run around, I am passing on learned culinary skills to the next generation. While baking the other day, instead of sticking her in the playpen, I did just what my grandmother and mom used to do. I handed her a wooden spoon and some pots to play with right there in the kitchen with me. Turns out, she had no interest in the spoon or pots. She found a bag of spice containers I had just purchased and had the best time taking them all out, shaking them, and then putting them all back. I was able to get the pound cake in the oven all the while laughing at her rapt attention with the allspice and nutmeg.
The kitchen is where memories are made. I like to think that one day, she will look back on her time with me and remember having a wooden spoon in her hand and getting flour on her nose.