Baking Season

Yesterday was Rosh Hashana, the Jewish New Year, which I always think of as the start of baking season. One of the consistent ways our non-religious household marks religious holidays, both Christian and Jewish, is through food.

The apples & honey for the new year leads to fall crisps and crumbles around the fire pit, birthday cakes, pumpkin cheesecake, quick breads, Hanukkah & Christmas cookies and some fancy cake for Christmas dinner. Last year I made Chocolate Fluer de Sel cake drizzled with caramel and covered with whipped cream frosting.

Baking season ends for me with my daughters birthday cake in January. And really five months of sweets is enough for anyone’s year.

This year my daughter made the apple cake for Rosh Hashana.

Apple Cake with Cinnamon Whipped Cream

As she gets older and assumes more responsibilities she’s found she likes baking. She has cooked and baked with my husband and me even when she was small and her help made everything take twice as long. This was and is a deliberate parenting choice.

Growing up I never cooked or baked a thing on my own in my mothers house. That was her exclusive domain and everyone but her was a prep cook. I peeled mountains of potatoes and cut millions of slices of bread into squares for homemade stuffing, but I never made anything except a sandwich until I lived on my own.

Over the years I’ve enjoyed experimenting and learning to cook both complicated and simple foods. We still try to cook once or twice a week rather than just assemble microwaved freezer food which is a necessary fall back in our two career household. The expectation is that my daughter will begin to cook for the family once in a while as well.

Cooking, baking and other skills necessary for survival in the wild (meaning away from ones parents), are in the forefront of my thinking as I see the four short years remaining before our daughter leaves for college. Following a budget, saving and planning, doing laundry, mowing the lawn, unclogging the toilet and other sundry tasks are being mastered as she wends her way to adulthood. Hopefully we are also teaching her to be confident that she is capable, adaptable and strong.

Epicurus, one of my favorite Greek philosophers, has suffered from false rumors that accuse him of advocating gluttony. Without going off on a tangent Epicurus’ philosophy advocated appreciation of pleasure in the present. He believed in moderation of the transient pleasures like food and wine, and careful attention to the long-term pleasures of friendship and freedom from fear and pain.

I often think of his quote, “We should look for someone to eat and drink with before looking for something to eat and drink, for dining alone is leading the life of a lion or wolf.”

For the coming year my daughter and I will focus on one new cooking area. I asked if she’d prefer a  year of homemade pasta (ravioli, tortellini, gnocchi…) or a year of bread. She chose bread. So we will begin making bread and find friends to share it with.

Happy baking season.