I don’t cook.
Ask my friends, family, even casual acquaintances and they will not hesitate to tell you that I spend an average of five minutes each day in my kitchen (and that’s mostly because I have to walk through it to get to the laundry room). My shopping list consists entirely of things that can be prepared in a microwave, because my stove and I have a very distant relationship. We get together for frozen pizza or grilled cheese once a week, and that’s about it.
But every year, on May 6th, I make an exception for a very important person in my life.
I was five years old when my paternal grandmother, Grace, became a semi-permanent resident in my parents’ house. For at least six months out of the year, Grandma Grace lived in the room across the hall from me. She usually came down from my aunt’s house in Jacksonville around the end of October and stayed until the middle of May–right after her birthday, May 6th.
I have been fortunate enough to inherit many of grandmother’s attributes: her nose, her sense of humor, and of course, her relentless sweet tooth. Normally, Grandma Grace was a self-confessed chocoholic, but on her birthday she always requested lemon cake. Since she was most often living under our roof when her birthday came around, I usually had a hand in the cake baking (or at least the decorating) and it became quite a tradition.
So much of a tradition, in fact, that even after she passed away in 2007, I felt that I couldn’t stop.Even though I couldn’t find it in my heart to make a cake every year, cupcakes seemed like the perfect compromise.
To me, carrying on the tradition isn’t so much about the actual cooking–it’s about taking time out of my life on this special day to remember someone who meant so very much to me. Life is busy, and even though I think about her every day, it’s usually for a fleeting moment here or there when something reminds me of her or I just wish I could talk to her, or more often that not it’s when I want more than anything in the universe to hear her laugh. But on this day I set aside hours to think about how much of who I am is because of the woman that she was. The least I could do is bake a few cupcakes.
But just because my intentions are good, doesn’t mean my baking skills are. I took some photos of my annual cooking pilgrimage to share this year. I use a recipe from the Goddess of Southern Cuisine herself, Paula Deen, which I highly recommend in spite of its caloric consequences.
Here’s my abbreviated photo essay of my baking experience:
Also, a snippet from a Warren Zevon song that always makes me think of my grandmother:
Sometimes when you’re doing simple thing around the house
Maybe you’ll think of me and smile
You know I’m tied to you like the buttons on your blouse
Keep me in your heart for a while.