Recently, I went to housesit for my parents while they were away for a weekend. Meghan and I live relatively close to my childhood home, so we try to visit as often as everyone’s hectic schedules allow. That said, I can’t remember the last time I was alone in that house with just my thoughts. I had come down to take care of Stretch (the cat) and pick berries, and was rooting around in their cupboards for a suitable bowl - and found this one.
Not much to look at anymore, I realize, but it struck me that this is the first bowl I ever used for baking. I have a sepia-tone memory of helping Mom make chocolate chip cookies on a late summer afternoon with it, though I can’t place what age I might’ve been. In first or second grade, my class was given an assignment to invent a product, so naturally I went with “breakfast cookies” - cookie dough with whatever cereal we had in the pantry. I thought I was being sneaky, getting to have cookies first thing… While the cookies did get made, I don’t think I actually got to have any before lunch. That wasn’t a battle I would’ve won anyway, but it certainly set the stage for my cookie fetish later in life.
In junior high and high school, I would choose that same metal bowl when baking, despite Mom having newer, more attractive alternatives. I’ve always been a sucker for traditions, so I’m guessing this surprised absolutely no one. Through college, I would bake with Mom over the holidays, prepping for their annual holiday open house in December; we have covered the sideboard in obscene amounts of cookies, pies and breads for years. I began to use other bowls for expediency’s sake, or simply because I wasn’t thinking about it anymore, and once I moved out after graduation, the bowl likely saw itself full of dough less and less. It’s a wonder it was never moved or thrown away - or maybe it’s not. I think Mom knew how important that bowl has been in my cooking journey, even if I didn’t until the other day. There must have been countless opportunities to throw out the old mixing bowl with the chipped porcelain, but they were never taken. It was never even moved from its place high up on the third shelf by the sink. A reminder of where I got my start. I know it’s just a bowl, a tool, one of millions churned out at some long-demolished bowl factory in some faraway place, but it’s also a memorial to all the hours spent learning in that kitchen. Sharing knowledge, and time, making sweet things for ourselves and others.
I know it’s just a bowl, but when I look inside, I see my history etched.