In praise of the cookie cutters – a tribute

What Mel Did - Hart 19th birthday baking

When I am a little down, one of my go-to remedies is my children – in varying degrees of dosage needed.

Sensing that his mother was in need of an undefined ‘something,’ my youngest son, Hart, came to see me for a couple of days. And whilst none of my children consider it their responsibility to keep their mother in the world of the sane and well-balanced, they do acknowledge the residual benefits to them of not letting me go completely off piste.

I have recalled Hart’s visit several times this week, and invariably end up with a massive grin on my face recalling some of our antics and conversations.

This is especially so today as it is Hart’s 19th birthday.

Since his birth, the youngest of the gibberish generation has had his father’s knack of making me laugh unexpectedly. Whether I am in full-flight menopausal rant, or legitimately chiding him for some misdemeanour, my son can cut through it all with a quip, a look, or an impromptu dance which has me helpless with laughter.

Walking the high street together during the visit, my son and I were reminiscing about the gingerbread men his father would bake religiously every year. These culinary delights were iced with the names of the recipients and clothed in a mini tartan scarf fashioned from one of Bronnie’s LL Bean nightshirts. These gifts were then usually delivered to hang from Christmas trees across the land.

Without really articulating the idea, I suggested vaguely to Hart that one of the shoots for my Christmas greeting card line could include Hart baking mini gingerbread men and sugar cookies. Hart stopped dead, pulled my arm back and demanded urgently:

“What kind do you want?”

“Round?”

“Square?”

“Different shapes or same?”

“What flavour?”

“Lemon?”

“Vanilla?”

“Lavender?”

“What colours?”

“Red?”

“Blue?”

“Although maybe a pastel combo would be good?”

“Talk to me mother.”

“TALK TO ME!”

You get, then, Hart likes baking.

Since a little boy, Hart has been willing, and latterly able, to conjure up culinary magic from whatever is in the pantry and/or fridge. Okay, his cinnamon overloaded mash potatoes was not his finest hour, but he did always learn from those God-awful experiments – and the art of less oftentimes being more. Much more.

Hart takes after me in his ability to cook without a recipe – or a adapt a recipe to beyond its original intent – and to turn culinary disasters into dinner-party worthy fare. His Focaccia Thyme Bread has graced many a host’s dinner table, with some of the guests unknowing that their taste buds were being delighted by a 9-year old boy’s cooking.

Back to 2017 Kitchen Fargo, the countertops are laden with all the necessary and unnecessary tools to realise my passing thought that Hart and I should make and shoot a cookie making session. You know, like back in the old days.

The next morning, Hart woke unseasonably early at 07:00 hours and proceeded to consult the cooking bible we do use when we need to be semi-certain of the result – The Joy of Cooking. He consulted, measured, whipped, tasted and beat flour, butter and sugar into submission until the early hours of the evening against a backdrop of some banging tunes from Spotify.

The results were delicious and fun-filled, worthy of being sold by any upmarket retailer at a premium price. Hart really is a good baker.

I got my photo shoot, but I also got a reminder of one of the ways in which my new 19-year old can transport me to all those times we laughed and ‘messed around’ in the kitchen together when he was knee high to a potato.

The realisation those times are not relegated to the past, and that Hart and I can still enjoy knocking around together in the kitchen now that he is grown, is the most wonderful pick-me-up and absolutely life affirming.

As life affirming as the day I gave birth to Bronson Hart Fargo III on 7th September 1998.

Happy birthday, Harty. I love you.

 

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