This morning, I made -- resisting saying "whipped up" -- a batch of cranberry-orange scones. I've made these scones hundreds of times. I don't need the recipe, I just start doing: The yellow Pyrex bowl that is that last of my mom's set. The tin measuring cups we used to make cookies at Christmas. Cutting a cold stick of butter from memory, into thirds, first long way, then short way, then chopping. Scattering the butter over the dry ingredients and working it in with my fingers -- exactly the way my mother showed me, which is exactly the way her mother showed her. Mom felt doing this by hand made for flakier scones, biscuits and pie dough -- it also, she said, put some extra love in the recipe.
When I bake, my mother, her mother and my Grandma Siemers, all come into the kitchen. In my pans and bowls, my spoons and spatulas, in the glass measuring cup with the measures so faded they can't be read. These baking women are in everything I make and how I make it, whether their recipes (Pulla, strudel, prune tarts) or mine.
I shared many things with my mom, but nothing so tactile and nostalgic as baking. She's gone nearly 20 years now, but when I want to spend time with her, I pull down a bowl and start measuring flour. And she's right there, leaning over my shoulder, showing me a better way to sift the flour or knead the dough.
I'm a baking woman. I come from baking women. My sister-in-law is a baking woman, my niece (and nephew) are little bakers. It's a legacy I cherish, it keeps me close to home.
The scones are warm, fragrant with orange, running with butter. A pot of Earl Grey sits beside. My mom's chair is empty, but she's here. And thinking I should have used less sugar.