My kitchen smells yummy right now. After assembling a pan of baked ziti, I moved on to applesauce muffins. There's a loaf of garlic bread in my freezer too.
No, my family is not getting any of it (okay, well maybe a muffin). It is all for a mom friend of mine who just had a baby, and since I know how crazy and sleep-deprived I was after my kiddos were born, I will take any chance I can to help her out.
We moms aren't always the greatest at admitting when we need help. I know I am definitely guilty of that, although the older my kids get, the more willing I am to say that I am in fact, not superwoman (I know, ruining your image of me right there). I gladly accepted a week's worth of meals when Leah was born and all 3 different pans of lasagna were delicious. I think we might have had a different meal thrown in there, but there was definitely a lot of lasagna.
I have figured out how to make a few casseroles that I am not embarrassed to share, but my favorite thing to do for others is bake.
Everything I know about baking I learned from my Nana. I spent so many days in the kitchen, at the table or on a chair at the counter, helping her with pies, cakes, bread, everything. She used to give me leftover bits of pie crust to make my own "cookies." I'd cut them with little cookie cutters and put sprinkles on them and put them in the oven.
She is why I make applesauce every fall and always have freezer strawberry jelly on hand. I refuse to buy store-bought pie crusts and I would NEVER buy a pie to take to a holiday gathering. She makes killer banana bread that is famous in Indiana and Wisconsin, mainly thanks to the care packages I used to get. In college, she would write the names of my friends and roommates on loaves of "Nana bread" for me to pass around. She couldn't do my laundry or help me study, but she could make sure that I felt a little bit of home.
Because in my family, food equals comfort. Holidays and Sunday dinners were always more food than we could eat in a week, which meant everyone went home stuffed and with "care packages" for the days to come. The first few times I took Craig to Nana's, he started getting annoyed every time she asked him if he needed anything to eat - which was every 10 minutes, it seemed. He didn't quite understand.
At 94, Nana's not as quick in the kitchen anymore, although she does supervise my aunt with the banana bread. She loves to hear what I've made and that my kids love to watch me.
All those days in the kitchen have paid off.