Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Baking with Farmor

{I was late joining Ms. Matlock's class, but there I met Ms. Tattoos and Teething Rings. She has a Tuesday "Write On" deal going on, and since I tend to be one of those students who joins a lot of clubs, I'm joining hers.

And I must also insert here how much your lovely comments have meant to me. I feel welcomed with open arms by this class. In real life, I was the new kid in class more times than I care to recall, and the welcome was nothing like this. Your encouragement has helped to cheer this couch bound wallower. A lot. So THANK YOU.}

Today's "Just Write" assignment: a food memory, good, bad, embarrassing.

I'm a child of two cultures, having lived the first eight years of my life in Sweden. There I could make my way literally through the woods, over the hill, across a lovely little meadow, to my grandmother's house. And since this was rural Sweden in the early 70s, my parents let me and my siblings do this. Alone. We spent many lovely afternoons baking with my Farmor. (In Swedish the grandparents are conveniently identified, she is my father's (far) mother (mor)).

Farmor baked almost everyday, or so it seemed to us grandkids. At her house there were always homemade cookies, cakes, buns, and bread. Swedish tradition calls for the home to always be ready to receive un-announced visitors, so a hostess needs to have these items ready to serve with the coffee. When a guests comes over, they are offered "coffee" which means coffee with a whole lot of baked goods. And a good Swedish hostess offers homemade baked goods.

My favorite goodie to bake with Farmor was probably the lemon cakes, because they had the best batter. Now remember, this was not baking with my mother who is the winner of the best-scraper-on-the-planet contest. Every last molecule of batter makes it into my mother's cakes. Not so with Farmor. She doesn't USE a scraper. We were allowed to lick to our heart's content. She would pour the batter into the pan, then immediately hand us that bowl, with the whole swath of lovely, lemony, gooey batter still clinging to it.

It was hard to learn how to bake from Farmor, though. Most of her recipes were in her head, and those that were written down, didn't have times or temperatures for baking. "Oh honey, you can just tell when it's done. Can't you notice the difference in the smell?" Are you kidding me? With an afternoon's worth of lovely aromas wafting around the kitchen, I'm supposed to be able to separate the yeast rolls, cooling on the counter, from the cardamon bread already cool on the dining room table, from lemon cake almost done in the oven? Nope, not gonna happen.

She was amazing. In the midst of all of this, she would have her arms around a five year old little girl, whispering in her ear, while the girl was stirring and feeling loved. On the table by the window, the very table that I'm sitting at now writing this, her oldest granddaughter had been trusted with the task of SLICING the precious lemon cake which were allowed to eat BEFORE DINNER. Then she'd send us back over the hill with baked goodies for her son's family to enjoy."I'd love to have you come back tomorrow!"

Memories like these are a legacy to treasure. A legacy to savor. I hope one day to be a grandma like her.

This post is linked to Tattoos and Teething Rings "Write On " Tuesday. Go check out the other food memories!


Amanda Lee said...

Your grandmother sounds like the perfect grandmother. I definitely believe you will the same kind of loving, embracing grandmother that she was (with just a touch of rock and roll). And I can totally picture you at that table. Which leads to the next thing-- your words have painted a vivid picture, but your painted table is so darling, you should share!

Tina said...

Ok, Amanda. Only the picture didn't go where I wanted it...gotta learn more about the editor, I guess. Clockwise from bottom left are nephew The Jedi, Niece LizardQueen, My YellowBoy, and Jake. This is the sunflower corner of my kitchen. The blue table is where my Dad did his homework growing up. The corner cabinet my Grandfather made out of old shipping crates. The bench the three cousins are sitting on is a typical kitchen sofa: the seat lifts up for storage underneath. We had these treasure shipped over from Sweden when Farmor died in 1999.

Jenny said...

What a lovely post. I love stories that paint a picture. And I enjoyed your masterpiece.

Tattoos and Teething Rings said...

What a beautiful food memory! I missed out on having grandmothers as part of my daily life, this makes me yearn for those times. I love that she let you lick the batter, that's seriously the best part of baking :)

Thank you for playing along!

Anonymous said...

What a lovely memory of baking with your grandmother. I just adore that you call her Farmor. This is a beautiful post.

People Who Know Me Would Say: said...

Tina, I enjoyed your memory very much, in part because it took me back to my own childhood.

Would your mother's mother be Mormor? That would be like so many of my friends who are grandmothers and called "Mom mom", right?

GardenOfDaisies said...

Beautiful memories of Sweden and baking with your Farmor! :-)
I have some Swedish ancestry, but we would have to go back a few generations. There is a little town not too far away from me that was settled by Swedish immigrants. There are all sorts of Swedish shops... festivals, etc... Really lovely.