Margaret Turner’s mother taught her everything there is to know about baking. She was only six years old when her mom taught her about the importance of using stackable measuring cups for dry ingredients and glass measuring cups for liquid ingredients. Laverne Turner also taught her eldest child that when the recipe calls for you to beat the ingredients, that’s not an invitation to carry on as though you were in the midst of a grudge match against your biggest enemy. You want your ingredients to feel as though they were always meant to be together, so gently welcome them each into the fold. And when the recipe says to bake at 425 degrees for 30-35 minutes, it means exactly that. Don’t go opening the oven door every five minutes to see how things are coming along. Be patient and trust in the process.
Laverne’s speciality was pastry, but it was bread that called out to Margaret. Margaret remembers vividly the first loaf she ever made. She was just thirteen at the time. “Please let it rise properly,” she prayed. “Please let it slip easily from the pan,” she also asked of God. “And please let Mom says that she likes it.”
“Margaret” her mother said after she had her first mouthful. “I wish I could make bread like this.”
It’s been thirty years since Margaret baked that first loaf. She’s not sure what number today’s loaf makes, but a part of her feels that it’s one of the most meaningful she has ever made. This is the first time Margaret has baked anything since her mother passed away a year ago. Until today, Margaret had been too depressed to do anything other than the essentials – work, sleep, shower, pay the bills, feed the dog. However when she woke up today, Margaret thought that baking something might help her feel her mother’s presence again.
Patiently she waited those 35 minutes for the bread to come out of the oven. When it did, she cut herself the thickest slice she has ever cut and slathered it with butter.
Had anyone else ate it, they would have told Margaret that it was just as good as any other loaf of bread that Margaret had ever made, but to Margaret it was the worst. It didn’t matter how many memories baking brought her, it didn’t bring back what she wanted most of all: her mom.
Margaret tore up the bread and threw it outside for the birds.