24 January 2012

More Baking Mania...

Just some left over photos from the pre-Christmas baking mania to share with you.

My grandmother and I always get together before the holiday and spend an entire day baking kolachi for the family. 12 hours, 36 kolachi, 30 squirrels (left over kolachi dough swirled with jelly, coconut, chocolate chips and chopped nuts), and a batch of Butter Balls (Russian Tea Cookies) later, we were exhausted but pleased.

Our baking sessions are one of my favorite parts of the holiday, and I learn so much about the craft while I'm there. She's a brilliant baker, and an excellent teacher.

We're at the point now, after five or six years of this, and with her back a little worse for the wear at the age of 80, where I'm doing most of the baking myself. She perches in the chair next to where I'm working, her watchful eye on me at all times, as we chat about the past, and the present. And its those chats that I cherish and look forward to far more than anything I could possibly learn about baking.

She'll tell me stories about growing up, about life as the youngest girl in a coal mining immigrant family of 10+. The struggles, the successes (and the dresses!). How somehow, though her father died in the mines when she was young, their mother always found a way to make due. About how she met my grandfather, and the challenges they faced because he was three years younger than she. In return I'll share tales from the History Department, we'll talk about my plan for the future, how my relationship with the boyfriend is going, and in a shocking parallel--the challenges we face because he's three years younger than I.

Its these chats that I enjoy most of all--the bonding time, and the ability to share a family history. And it's all thanks to a simple dough and filling, and a family tradition that predates even my grandmother.


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