Woman on a mission

This staying-at-home-with-a-semi-ill-child business is starting to get to me: I've tidied, I've vacuumed, I've washed and now I've even googled "how to make a sponge cake".


This is going to be an exciting afternoon. Whether it's going to turn out edible... is anyone's guess, but at least it'll be fun. I can tell.

And on another note: it makes me wonder about my grandmother, the Estonian, came-from-Russia one.

She came from Siberia by what I understand on the back of a horse buggy, and by the time she was my age she had three children already. She was limited in what they had both in food and appliances - and continued on in this mindset even in the 90's when it wasn't necessary anymore - but boy was she a mean cook!

As I google around for recipes that work and gradually build my capacity to feed a person - or three - I think back on that little, yellow-paged book in my mother's kitchen somewhere where my grandmother had written down all her recipes and that she, I think, passed on to my mother. Or maybe my aunt?


It was much simpler, straightforward food - oven bakes that were full of veggies and meat, cakes that were baked in sugar, butter and cream, and just generally food that left people feeling full, if not to say nourished, and I remember the way her kitchen smelled, and the way she allowed me to lick clean the bowl where I'd beaten her cream and just, well... the food. Memories of my grandmother almost always come along with memories of her food.

My recipe book is only beginning now. It's only the stuff that really works that gets there - which is to say I've written down 5 recipes (1 omlet, 1 cookies, 1 banana bread, 1 coffee cake, 1 apple cake) - and as I look at it I wonder, what was my grandmother's recipe book like when she was my age?

Did my grandmother think of her grandmother as a great cook? 
Did she bring her recipe book with her when she arrived in Estonia, at 18? 
Did she even have one?

Women in my life have the beginnings of my grandmother. I don't know if it's simply something that happens to women when they get to that child-brearing and -rearing stage - personally, I think it's the women I tend to be with rather than a general rule of thumb for women my age, though to be honest, I really don't know - but I see a lot of my grandmother in women around me. They cook food and they make things - clothing even - and though modest by the standards of that age where women hauled water from outside wells and fired their stoves with wood, it is still beginnings of grandmothers I see in them, and it reminds me of mine.

If I'd been born earlier - or if she'd died later - I would've learned a great deal more from what she was doing because, frankly, at the time she was still around and with it, I simply wasn't interested. I loved the food - except the veggies, of course - but I wasn't intent on making some. Maybe if I wasn't made to participate in dishwashing and cleaning, I would've been more interested in that front end of cooking - the stuff that happens before dishes get on the table - but as it stands I simply reminisce and think of the smell of her cooking.

And fire up my electrical stove to have a go at a sponge cake.


  1. Hmmm. Why do you think that only women back in time had it hard? I think it is harder now, despite of all the nice appliances we get to use. Most women work 40 hours a week (some even more) + commuting. If you add all that cooking (even if shared with a partner) and other household shores - women nowadays have it harder. Smaller families (meaning the generations not living together) also mean that there is no one to pick up the slack.

    There is definitely few things that we have easier. The access to information is something I value a lot myself. Back in time - if my grandmother or mother didn't know how to make a souffle - I would have had to jump through hoops to get the knowledge. Now I just open my internet browser. And washing machine. That is the invention of the millennium!

    1. I'll definitely back you on the washing machine...