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  • Writer's pictureThe Improper Grandma

"Stress: Not a Welcome Ingredient"

Updated: Jan 29, 2021


One of the many topics being shared on Créme de la Clover is my love for baking, cooking, and all things food. This includes eating. Baking was a childhood joy of mine which has never seemed to change. Looking back, my teen years really developed the baking bug. I remember surprising my Dad with whatever baking triumph emerged from the failures, usually classic chocolate chip cookies. (Definitely not the mid-80's banana cream pie attempt.) Proud as a peacock I’d walk a fresh batch of those warm cookies up-town to him and his work buddies. They would light up, raving about the smell and taste. I would relish in their semi-rehearsed acts of surprise. Bless their souls for eating them! Sometimes I wondered if they were simply pretending to like them and actually tossed the whole plate once I left… hmmm *suspiciously sips coffee*

In the early adult years, when I like to think I had some control of life’s reins, dinner was most often served by 6pm and eaten at the kitchen table. That poor well-worn wooden table, my only source of counter space for many years. Oh the stories my children could tell! Growing up they all knew on any given day a random cake, batch of cookies, sweet rolls, pies, brownies, or freshly baked bread would appear there. I swear my toiled over confections would hardly be cooled before their three sets of devouring eyes caught glimpse. One-by-one they’d schmooze their way into the kitchen to negotiate a portion, like little well-mannered vultures. Yes, I worked too. I worked A LOT. I still don’t know how I found the time between work, and all the kids’ obligations on top of my own. Maybe it was because I was actually 29 then. But baking? Baking simply made me happy, so I made time. It was what still brought me joy... or maybe at that point in life, sanity? Quilting brought me joy too, and coaching volleyball, but those are stories for another day.

Being a mother, wife, and coworker, my joy-filled hobby slowly transformed into more of an obligation. I was often called upon to provide baked goods for school fundraisers, sporting events, concerts, Sunday coffee hour, potlucks, family gatherings, and midnight treats for the kids' many sleepovers. Topher was a newborn and Ashlie became consumed with high school activities. Fortunately my Manda May was an independent little baker at a young age and enjoyed relieving me of the dreaded deed. My Easy-Bake oven extraordinaire. My star baker! Thank goodness, because I was all baked out. No really, I specifically remember rushing a requested order of sweet rolls, my specialty! Anyone that bakes knows stress is not a welcome ingredient; the rolls came out of the oven completely unrecognizable. A gremlin batch, if you will. They went in fine, like the cute fluffy mogwai, metaphorically- and came out a full on fed-it-after-midnight, gremlin. This was my tipping point. I was over it, done- fucking retired! A failed bake does nothing for a stressed woman's ego.


That was then, and this is a pandemic. I drink wine now. Judge as you may, wine soothes my improper soul. I have endured 296 days of quarantine with the Mr. and my teenage son’s insatiable appetite for whatever is NOT in the house. Throw in a job change and adjustment to work at home for me, the Mr. becoming my office mate, and Topher's 8th grade distance learning- we have lived the 2020 American dream. With this in mind it has been decided 2021 is the year I dust off my joy. The hope is that by doing so it will inspire others to reignite whatever joy they have lost along the way, or at least provide some entertaining reading.

No longer can baking be avoided 364 of the 365 days a year. After all, the Grandma Code of Conduct states that proper Grandma’s make their grandchildren birthday cakes. Or can we declare dominance over our children’s children like we did our own? Can we actually take their birthday away? Does the mother need to sign off on this? It's like my ancestors are looking down (or up, which is really a terribly unflattering angle) telling me to get over it and put my apron back on! I'm sorry, that's a lie. I never wore an apron. Do they wear those now? Do I need to find one? Shit.


From the safety of my own kitchen, I will keep it simple: 1 cake per week. That is 52 cakes in the year, plus 5 for each of our birthdays (wait 6... I have a grandkid). Factor in a 5% re-bake rate, because wine. I committed to this knowing I have a full house of company the month of February, a trip to South Dakota in April, a family RV vacation in May, and three weeks in a hotel while our floors are being repaired for the cherry on top. So we will be getting creative, people!


While I am not a horrible baker, there is still much to learn. Actually, by many accounts I am a semi-professional! In the eyes of those with limited taste buds or questionable palate standards, my baked goods have been #winning. Education is a facet of this adventure I am very excited about, for both your sake and mine! Full disclosure, there may be stodgy moments. (I am well versed in The Great British Baking Show. It was binged as a coping mechanism in 2020. So I’ve got this going for me.)

As it sits, I have made two cakes so far this year. Technically three, we had a casualty. Going forward I will post photos and share the official recipes and revisions. I will not be sharing the physical effect this journey may have on my waistline nor will I claim liability for any repercussions to my readers in correlation with the content of this blog.

Now, LET'S BAKE!

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