Tuesday, May 11, 2010

The Wooden Spoon

My Mom first received the "wooden spoon" as a wedding present, coming with a matching wooden fork and a large wooden salad bowl. The salad bowl only came out for special occasions and over a decade later, ended up as a garage sale item. As for the fork, we never quite put our finger on where that disappeared too. But the spoon... well that's a whole other story.

This spoon, if given an audience, could tell some kitchen stories that would put Mark Twain to shame. It could tell you how it stirred up coffee cakes with crumbled strudel on those "special" breakfast mornings. It helped my Daddy beat eggs, Bisquick and milk into some mighty-fine pancake suppers on Sunday nights. It can tell you how it occasionally lent its hand to child rearing when my brothers and I found ourselves acting out. I'd bet that it's seen more potlucks and stirred up more birthday cakes than Betty Crocker herself! I remember
using this spoon when I started baking. I also remember when I snuck it out of my Mom's kitchen and kept it in mine. I bake when I need peace and so that spoon has had a hand in grief, happiness, stress and of course, comfort. It has burn marks on it and it's weathered at the ends, but it still continues to be a legacy in our kitchen. I have kept it intact and still use it whenever I need the "perfect" spoon to mix something up.

Like any good kitchen tool, if you find one that works then you stay with it instead of trying to upgrade it because it just feels right in the hand. I had hoped to hand this spoon down to my daughter as a third generation of cooking lore. However, as we were getting ready to take the picture with it that now sits at the top of this blog, my husband picked it up and for whatever cosmic reason, it broke in half. Naturally, I was just in shock! How could a spoon that lasted 50 years just break in half? How could it stand up to so many batters and not get lost at so many functions just break in the hands of - bless his heart - my husband? I thought to myself, "How can I write a blog about my Mother's spoon if it's broken?" Well, guess what... with a little wood glue, a clamp, and numerous apologies from my sweet man, it's back to being that lovely wooden spoon and you know what? That break will just add more character for my daughter, because after all, it's not the spoon but the love behind it. That spoon endured more love than any one kitchen tool I know and I am proud to pass that love down to her.

Happy Mothers Day to my Mom, who taught me about the love and peace I can find by picking up a wooden spoon and turning it into a piece of comfort for my family. And Hun, don't worry if the wood glue doesn't work - there's always duct tape and it comes in many colors... I'm jus' sayin'!

In honor of my mom, I am posting her all-time favorite cookie recipe. If I had to pick one cookie that reminded me of my childhood, it's this one. The whole house smells of goodness when you bake these little gems. It's still one of the only cookies my Mom bakes today. My daughter loves these cookies and after making them for this blog, I realized I don't bake them enough. Betty Crocker was certainly onto something with this rich and spicy cookie.

Molasses Crinkles (adapted from Betty Crocker)

3/4 cup shortening
1 cup packed brown sugar
1/4 cup mild-flavor molasses or full-flavor molasses
1 egg
2 1/4 cups Gold Medal® all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
1/4 teaspoon salt
Granulated sugar

1. Mix shortening, brown sugar, molasses and egg thoroughly in large bowl. Stir in remaining ingredients except granulated sugar. Cover and refrigerate at least 2 hours.

2. Heat oven to 375°F. Grease cookie sheet. Shape dough into 1 1/4-inch balls. Dip tops in granulated sugar. Place balls, sugared sides up, 3 inches apart on cookie sheet. Sprinkle each with 2 or 3 drops of water.

3. Bake 10 to 12 minutes or just until set but not hard. Remove from cookie sheet to wire rack.