My mother was a very traditional Southern cook. She loved cooking and was always preparing meals for holidays. Around Christmas we would barely see her as she was holed up in the kitchen baking cakes of all sorts, cookies, and other treats that she gave to everyone she knew. On Christmas Day she would begin cooking at dawn and by early afternoon would have transferred her operation to a large meeting hall where our huge extended family gathered for Christmas Supper. Once ensconced in the spacious semi-professional kitchen on site she would command a full complement of impromptu sous chefs made up of cousins and my grandmother’s housekeeper who acted as kitchen guard to keep the kids from underfoot.
It is that background that instilled me with a love of baking and traditional cooking. For many years, although I’d learned at her apron strings, I rarely turned my hands to her art. It was easy enough just to wait for her to make something delicious. However, once she had passed away I discovered that through baking I could feel close to her again.
|Frances O. Bannister|
Among those books were hundreds upon hundreds of handwritten recipes she had traded over the years. Jotted on slips of paper, backs of envelopes, even deposit slips and receipts, these jewels represented the best of her collection. Among them are some of the recipes shared on this blog, notably “Gert’s Mama’s Pound Cake” which was jotted on a tiny piece of paper pulled from a pad and “Mardi Gras Cake” which she got on a trip to New Orleans from the housekeeper in our suite and jotted on a piece of hotel stationery.
You may wonder why this “About Buck” section seems to be about my Mama. Well, the reason is, without her love of baking and cooking I would never have bothered to pick up a spatula or mixer. But, now that I have finally put to use the many lessons taught me in her kitchen, I have realized the joy she had when baking.
When I am feel overwhelmed by events in the world and can’t sleep, I often find myself in my kitchen making cookies or baking a cake at 2 in the morning, just as she often did.
I love working with old recipes (some dating back to the Colonial era) and I also love trying out modern techniques and combinations. I think Mama would be proud.