When I was first invited to be a part of this family recipe blog hop, I immediately had visions of red velvet cake dancing in my head. I imagined my mom and I hovering over a bowl of fluffy cream cheese icing with silver spoons in hand. “Does it need more powdered sugar? Perhaps more cream cheese?” Then we’d wipe our hands on the front of our matching aprons and head to the butler’s pantry to get a cake stand. I wanted to share with you a quintessential southern memory of baking with my mom.
But I didn’t grow up in a quintessential southern home. I grew up in a military family. Even now, I don’t know how my mom managed to be both our mom and our dad for so long. She taught school full time and ran the house like a boss. It makes us all giggle now because she’s so mild mannered and has the personality of June Clever. When we talk about that period in our lives we call it her “Steel Magnolia” phase.
There was a two-year period when she didn’t work. We had just moved back to Florida from Texas and our family needed to regroup in the worst way. I’ve come to realize that constantly moving does something to your soul. You feel like your roots are in one city and your reality is in another. Imagine having a husband that is frequently gone and you’re raising three high maintenance girls mostly by yourself. Your family is hundreds of miles away and you don’t know one soul on or off base. That was my mom’s reality.
She threw herself into our family life once again. She woke us up each morning with freshly squeezed orange juice and told us we were rock stars. On the way to school, she would play Louis Armstong’s, “What a Wonderful World” and we’d belt it out like we were his back up band. She left encouraging notes for us in our lunch boxes every single day because lets face it, middle school is tough.
But the afternoons were my favorite part of the day. My sisters got out of school an hour after I did and for two solid years, I had her undivided attention during that time. She would pick me up from school and have a surprise waiting for me in the front seat of the car. These gifts were rarely extravagant. They were anything from a pair of earrings to a new tube of Bonne Bell Lip Smacker.
At least once a week, she would bake cookies. She tried all different kind of cookie recipes but chocolate chip cookies are my favorite. My Mom would bring these freshly baked beauties in a little basket, wrapped with tea towel to keep them warm and we’d head to the boardwalk for a cookie picnic. We’d spread a beach towel out on the sand and talk about our day interrupted only by the sounds of the crashing waves and the seagulls. That hour was hands down the best part of my day.
Eventually, we all settled back into a routine family life and she went back to teaching full time. But those treasured afternoons together have stayed with me all these years. And I can honestly say, I haven’t eaten a chocolate chip cookie or listened to Louis Armstong without thinking of her since.
Creating a cookie picnic for someone you love with what you have at home is easy. All you need is a food safe container for the cookies, something to drink, something to sit on like a blanket or towel, napkins for the crummies and sunshine. Turn off your cell phone and enjoy the uninterrupted gift of time.
For additional recipes and family memories, make sure to visit my other friends in this pre-Mother’s Day blog hop: