Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Fresh-baked Memories

     When I was growing up, my mom delighted the family with her baked goods. Her chocolate chip cookies rivaled Mrs. Fields, her apple tarts never lasted a day, and her frosting....oh, the frosting. After the cake smells filled the house, the mixer would start to whine in the kitchen. If she was making vanilla frosting, I'd park myself on the kitchen counter and wait to lick the beater. The first taste of frosting was heaven. Soon my taste buds went numb in powdered sugary, Crisco goodness.

     Baking played a role in my first two MG manuscripts, especially the most recent one. My main character's family owns a bakery. When I wrote it, those memories of helping my mom measure ingredients, decorate cookies, and sneak batter fueled my writing. The smells and sounds of a Saturday afternoon with the oven heating the kitchen are still fresh, even after 30 years. Maybe that's why the food scenes were some of the most fun for me to write.

     Some memories have yet to make it into my writing, but I know they'll eventually show up somewhere. There's the Birthday Cake Fiasco of 1990 (think the Bumpus dogs/Christmas turkey scene in Christmas Story, only with cake). Or the time my best friend and I turned the mixer on high speed with over four cups of dry ingredients in the bowl. Flour dust coated every surface in the kitchen. Even the ceiling fixture needed a wipe-down. 

     These memories floated around me two days ago while I baked a cake for my dad's birthday. The cake itself came from a Pillsbury boxed mix (sshhh! - don't tell my mom), but I whipped up the frosting from scratch. It's taken some experimenting over the years to get it right. Mom never wrote it down, instead eyeing everything as she dumped it into the mixer ('just a dribble of vanilla, maybe a second's worth'). Anyway, I have finally mastered the frosting. And, unlike my mom, I wrote the recipe down. I'm a writer after all.

     What childhood memory has played a role in one of your stories?


  1. Dawn,

    Now I totally want to stop blog surfing and go whip up a cake.

    One memory from the tween years that made it into one of my stories is how whenever me and my neighbor friend got together - when it was time to go home we would walk to the midpoint between our two houses (we lived about five houses apart) and then head back to our own house, talking louder and louder the further apart we got so that neither of us felt alone. Then we'd signal each other with a flash of the outside light.

  2. I love that - thanks so much for stopping by!


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