Mom lives in Washington. I’m here in Hawaii. If you were here mom, this Sustainable Sunday breakfast would be all yours. Ka’u coffee, papaya, soft-boiled egg. This photo does not give the deep magenta of these maple hibiscus any justice.
My mom always encouraged my natural love for cooking. When I was little, all I ever wanted to do was bake. Armed with a tiny whisk, mini baking pans, and my mom’s blue checkered childhood apron, we’d scour the dessert pages of Betty Crocker’s cookbook, lingering over the full-color spread of a hopelessly ornate gingerbread house we could only dream of building. I’d usually fixate on a recipe for Bonnie Butter Cake, a triple layer, all butter batter covered with French silk frosting. I did eventually make this cake, but mom knew to steer me toward the more doable cookie section.
Baking with mom taught me a lot. When my little arm grew tired from mixing the batter for chocolate chip cookies, she didn’t bail me out. She knew that no lesson on perseverance could be stronger than mixing cold butter with flour and sugar with a fork. When we accidentally used pancake mix instead of flour in our peanut butter cookies, I learned that mistakes can sometimes be better than what you were aiming for. And boy were those cookies puffy! Things are not always what they seem either, mince meat pie sounded great to me, but when I proudly presented it to those at our Thanksgiving table, no one would touch it except mom and me. It was pretty awful, but that didn’t stop her from encouraging me to try new things. I’ll never forget the pride of opening the oven door to the glory of my first lemon meringue pie. Who knew egg whites could create such magic?
Most of all, and without knowing it I’m sure, mom taught me that cooking requires a sense of touch. We didn’t have a KitchenAid, or a food processor, or even a blender. I have whipped cream with a whisk. And cut in butter with a fork. And kneaded dough with my hands. Now I know how to feel when the pizza dough is ready to rise, or if the biscuits need a drop more water. Working with my hands is what I love about cooking because making food is something you feel, in your hands, in your heart. Thank you mom, for giving me the chance to experiment in the kitchen. Someday I’ll make you a Bonnie Butter Cake that looks even better than the picture.