“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.