Mom and Dad were married nearly 45 years. After my father passed away in a car accident, my mother packed up her belongings from my childhood home into 15 medium-size boxes and moved them into our north Seattle home to live with me and my family. That was a year and a half ago. We have since moved into a larger home to accommodate all six of us more comfortably. She lives in a spacious mother-in-law-like basement and the kids and my bedrooms are situated on the upstairs floor. We often spend time with one another on the main living floor where we cook meals together almost every day.
Growing up, mom never thought of herself as a great home cook. I disagree. She was creative, inventive, and flexible when she prepared her "one pot"-style dinners. It is true, however, that she did not bake. In fact, baking scared her. It wasn’t until she moved in with us she began to take an interest in baking after she realized that my 4-year-old son could bake cookies. She did not want to be the only one in the family who couldn’t bake. When she began to help me in the kitchen daily, little by little she began to overcome her fear of baking. She was very interested in the recipes I tested for my upcoming cookbook, and would ask thoughtful questions.
These days, when mom sees me in the kitchen pulling out sugar, flour, butter, and eggs, she will disappear momentarily and reappear with a notebook and pen. She’ll smile and ask, “What are we baking today?” Whether it’s herbed bread, coconut-lemon muffins, chocolate chip muffins, or my dad’s favorite carrot cake, mom is there right next to me, writing all the steps down as fast as she can so she can try to re-create the recipe later. Whenever I invite her to join me in baking something savory or sweet for my family, she always accepts. Although she didn’t start until her late '60s she has a new passion for baking. The same special bonding experience my children and I have in the kitchen I now share with my mom. She and my children also bond in the kitchen. She has taught me that you can never be too old to learn something new.
I baked these Blackberry Honey Wheat Cream Scones for my mom after she returned from an extended visit with my sister Grace. She loved the scones so much that she asked if we could bake them together so she could learn how to make them for herself. The both of us agree this recipe is worth the deep purple-stained hands the blackberries impart when handling the dough; a memory I will always have of us enjoying each other, mother and daughter, in the kitchen.