“I think I will bake.” I say to myself.
It is uncommon for me to want to bake – I have never been good at baking – but I am at home on my own, and slightly bored. I am reading Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert and feel the need to create something. I’ve seen a recipe that I want to try. A scone recipe.
The last time I baked scones was 30 years ago, almost to the day.
It was my final Home Economics exam. All year, my cooking partner, Melanie – the beautiful, sweet, quiet, dextrous Melanie – had carried me in my fumbled attempts at cooking. Within a day of us being paired together it became apparent she was the cook. And I was not. For the remainder of the year, I was relegated to ingredient-fetcher and washer-upper – a role I gladly embraced. But, here in my final exam, I am on my own. In my exam anxiety I grab salt instead of sugar.
The examiner slowly bites into the scone. Almost immediately her face contorts and the contents of her mouth spew forth into the palm of her hand.
“Sarah, did you use salt instead of sugar?” she asks, whilst trying to gain her composure.
I feel the rest of the class looking at me. I imagine them suppressing their laughter.
“Why on earth did you take this subject, you useless woman,” my brain screams at me.
I glance over at the containers sitting on the kitchen bench. SALT stares back at me.
I nod my head.
My domestic fate is sealed when I get my final mark – a ‘D’.
Thirty years later, as I am measuring 440g of self raising flour into my thermomix, I am reminded of my last attempt and begin to question what possessed me to attempt them again. I am careful to use sugar, not salt.
I mix the dough. I pour it out onto the mat. I need to roll it out. I open the drawer and there, sitting proudly on its stand, is the marble rolling pin that belonged to my mother.
I stop. My breath catches in my throat. The last hands to hold those handles were hers.
Unlike me, my mother was a great cook and domesticity was not a drudge, but her calling.
That rolling pin had helped her deftly create culinary wonder after culinary wonder.
I stare at it, wondering if I should take it, worried I might sully its proud history.
I place my hand around it’s middle. The marble is cold against my palm.
“A marble rolling pin is always the best to use,” I can hear my mom saying, “It stops the butter in the dough from melting, and gives a much smoother finish too.”
Funny, I should remember those words. I never took the slightest bit of interest in her making of the food, only in the eating of it.
I position the dough in front of me. I am really not sure what to do.
I sprinkle flour onto the mat and onto the dough. I remember my mom would run her flour filled hands along the rolling pin too.
I place both hands over the handles of the rolling pin and position it on top of the dough.
I move it backwards and forwards. I stop, close my eyes.
I imagine my mom rolling it, back and forth, back and forth.
I imagine her love and passion for her cooking.
I look at my hands and imagine hers there too. Their softness, their gentleness, their love.
I imagine my hands touching hers. From mother to daughter, across time, immortal.
The weight of the rolling pin makes swift work of the scone dough. Before I know it, the dough is flat.
I cut out the scones, place them on the tray and pop them in the oven.
They are not perfect, but they taste good.
I look at the rolling pin.
“Thanks Mom,” I say.
“Mizpah.” Until we meet again.
0 thoughts on “The Rolling Pin”
Beautiful memory Sarah – my Mum used to make scones all the time, but never does anymore. When she left (my Dad and me), I started baking them in her place and now whenever I think of scones I think of those days. I think baking can be so evocative and intimate – that sense of nurturing, the smell of home. I’m sure your latest batch turned out beautifully xx
Hey Rebecca. The scones were a tad flat – okay, very flat – but they tasted very good. I am not much of a baker (or cook), but I understand the lure of it for its wholeness and the act of love involved.
You write so beautifully Sarah! I find my mother-in-law when I am in the kitchen too. We lost her just this year. Funnily enough I find my Dad when I am gardening. “Put your back into it” I can hear him whisper. Your post was beautiful. I hope you enjoyed those scones. xx
Hey Dani, thank you for your kind words. Isn’t it funny how some activities we attribute to different people? Boats remind me of my dad. He simply loves them. I did enjoy those scones, very much. xx
I have many memories of my grandparents in the kitchen too. If you make your food with love you can’t go wrong Sarah. Isn’t it funny how we have these beliefs from our childhood that stop us from creating. I am reading Big Magic too.
Thanks Lisa. I have to admit to never being much interested in cooking, much to my mum’s disappointment I think. Still, every now and again, I get the bug and it is good :-). I am loving Big Magic!
Oh Sarah, this made me shed a happy little tear. Isn’t it amazing that we can still make memories, and have moments, with those that have left before us? They are always there really, aren’t they?
Thank you Robyna. Indeed it is funny how memories just come to us and I am sure the things we do today will still spark more memories in the future. They are always there. xx
Thanks my beautiful friend your writing once more brings a smile to my heart and stirs memories of joy .
Thank you very much Tess xx
Beautiful memory. I was thinking about my grandmother today, when I caught a glimpse of a flour sifter that uses to be hears. I’m not overly competent in the domestic arts, so I’m not sure why I grabbed it. I remember feeling sad that no one else had. It’s like having her in the kitchen with me. <3
Hi Kate. Sometimes I think we take those things that remind us of the people that mean a lot to us in our lives. That rolling pin weighed a ton, but after the passing of my mom I grabbed it and carted it half way across the world back to Australia, despite not being a cook or baker. I had largely forgotten about it, until those scones, and suddenly I am in the kitchen with my mom, flour on the board, watching her create. Those little things are our conduit back to the people we lose. xx
Tears here, too. I often have these moments ‘with’ my Mum, across time and space, across the great divide. A whisper of something she would have said, one of the many teachings she gave me over all the years she was here. Thank you. x
I think your Mom and mine would have enjoyed each other’s company a lot. Maybe they are, wherever they are. x
Maybe they are Rach. Wouldn’t that be nice, both of them looking down at us, marvelling at technology and writing and how it brought us together? I like that. I like that a lot 🙂
Good on you Sarah for trying Scones again after a tricky last attempt (great story btw!) I find I connect with my Grandma while gardening, its just so important to call on them I reckon! That rolling pin is gorgeous xx
ps so good to see your site up!!!! 🙂
Hey Jasmine. Thanks for your lovely words. It’s good to be back up and you are right, it is important to check in with them from time to time. xx
This is a breathtaking piece of writing. You bring the reader right there into the kitchen with you. Beautiful memories, exquisitely written.
I have a marble rolling pin too…your mum was right, it is the best type. 🙂
Thank you so much Kimmie. I really appreciate you taking the time to comment. Have a lovely day xx