“A master-beggar art thou.” By Sasha at her kitchen table

Tuesday January 8, 2019
5 minutes
Rudyard Kipling

I make you cinnamon buns. I let the dough double rise and listen to Robert Plant and Alison Krauss. I make the filling (butter, cinnamon, sugar, salt). I make the cream cheese frosting. I whisper that you’re my little darling, and these buns are my little darlings, and in the quiet of this Saturday night, the world is my little darling. I’ll bring you the buns tomorrow morning, after I bake them, while they are still warm. You’ll be surprised to see me, but I’ll be holding a tray of the best damn thing you’ve ever smelled so you won’t be able to send me away, to refuse me, to ask me to go. You’ll invite me in. Coffee will already be brewing on the counter, in your red french press.

“somehow you are sacred,” by Sasha on her couch

Wednesday December 12, 2018
5 minutes
The Third Treatise
Yara Farran

Mia has started praying to the saints that she get better at baking, some of which are real and some of which are made up. Saint Chelsea looks after newly attempted recipes gone wrong. Cakes the overflow and fold molten rocks on the bottom of the oven, breads that don’t rise, cookies with bases burned to a crisp. Saint Tyrese is the saint of dishes. Caked on crumbs be gone! Solidified caramel – banish! Mia prays and beats egg whites into pearly peaks and wonders if buying this whole in the wall bakery was really a good idea.

“cinnamon, cardamom and ginger” by Julia on her couch

Monday, November 26, 2018
5 minutes
A recipe for apple muffins

I haven’t baked anything in a long time
I’m more of an improvise, throw things together on the stove top than follow directions and use chemistry kind of person.
I do not like someone else telling me how to make something and yet I have been desperate for someone else to weigh in on my life and tell me what’s right and what I should do.
I don’t like rules and I don’t like protocol and I don’t like social courtesies. I want freedom at the cost of the Room’s comfort. Which room, any room, this room. I want to be the mess and the reward. I want to push boundaries instead of being afraid of them.
Some people call this impolite. I am very impolite. A test I took in the summer told me that. I was in the 4th percentile. 4 our of 100 people in a room would be more impolite than me. It could be a good thing. Maybe sometimes you wish you were loud and forward and rude. Maybe it could help you get a few things done.

“cinnamon, cardamom and ginger” by Sasha at her kitchen table

Monday, November 26, 2018
5 minutes
A recipe for apple muffins

Baking helps me understand why some people like math. You buy good ingredients, you measure these ingredients, you preheat the oven, you stir, you blend, you incorporate, you get to the bottom of the bowl, maybe you even try to save on a few unnecessary steps or dishes, but that’s it, nothing more. The recipe is the container and it holds you. Follow it, and you’re (almost) guaranteed to have a house that smells good and something delicious. There aren’t variables in math (or, are there?!) and there are variables in baking, but not big ones.

“slow puffs of steam” by Sasha at her kitchen table

Thursday August 16, 2018
5 minutes
What Happened During The Ice Storm
Jim Heynen

She bakes because her favourite thing is the smell of bread rising, butter browning, cookies crisping. She bakes because her mother bakes, and her grandmother baked, and so on and so forth.

She limits her baking to Saturday, and brings the treats to her meditation group on Sunday afternoon.

“These are the best lemon squares I have ever had, Rachel,” says Glenn, who lead today and accidentally hit the gong with his foot when he was readjusting his seated position.

“Aw, thanks,” she says, and she knows he’s telling the truth. Her lemon squares are the best.

“You should open a bakery,” says Carol.

“I’ve thought of it, but I worry that if it’s my job I won’t love it as much anymore.”

“Maybe you’ll come to love it even more,” Glenn smiles. “That’s just as much of an option…”

“street cake!” By Sasha at her kitchen table

Friday August 25, 2017
5 minutes
From a text

I preheat the oven while you select a record. I’m not sure what exactly you choose, we’ve been hitting up garage sales, but it’s sexy and it’s got vocals and some horns, so it’s all good. You asked for cake this morning, and all day at work I dreamed about what wouldn’t require softened butter. I dreamed about caramel and vanilla, or, chocolate, yes! Chocolate. I use coconut oil because it’s so very good for you and I sift the ingredients and you watch me and sometimes grab at me and I push you away but only for now.

“ideal cooking oil” by Julia on her couch

Saturday, October 24, 2015
5 minutes
from the coconut oil jar

Mama sticks her finger into the jar and pulls out white silk that turns her skin glossy.
Doesn’t that smell like heaven? She hums, lifting her hand to my nose.
I nod my head. I want to eat the melting silk off of mama’s warm forefinger. She smiles at me, glad that I like what she likes. She dabs both of my cheeks with it and rubs it in. Feels nice, doesn’t it? I nod again, this time voraciously.
I want mama to let me bathe in this stuff. I want mama to let me alone with it so I can put it everywhere.
This is what you use for baking and cooking, she tells me, grabbing a spoon out of the drawer. She hands it to me. But it’s good for anything you can think of. She winks. I smile. I feel lucky to be let in to this place. She has given me her secret to the universe.

“this folder is empty” by Sasha at her kitchen table

Tuesday November 11, 2014
5 minutes
from the library tab on a computer

Josie browns her butter and smokes a cigarette. She regrets not going for a run that morning but doesn’t regret the butter. How can we ever regret butter? She stirs and listens to the bubbles. Nothing better. She ashes her cigarette in the earth of the cactus on the window ledge and then feels guilty. She gets a spoon from the drawer and removes the ash. She puts in the compost and then feels guilty. When she goes to remove it, it’s already mixed in with the coffee grinds, the grapefruit peel, the chicken bones. She smiles at herself. She thinks about quitting smoking. She turns off the stove and pours the butter into the eggs and brown sugar. She mixes with a wooden spoon.

“Cinnamon coffee” by Julia on the subway going east

Tuesday February 18, 2014
5 minutes

I was waiting outside your back gate with a cinnamon coffee for you and a batch of failed cookies. It was your favourite kind of day: the one with the light snow and the zero regrets policy. You did that for yourself once a year, you said, and this day just happened to be your birthday. The reject cookies I ultimately brought over were burnt on the bottoms and much too salty every second bite. I tried a couple rounds but there was a lot of pressure to get them right because they were supposed to be your favourite. Not that they were difficult or challenging due to their obscure nature. You never cared for fancy things. For things that looked like they were trying too hard. Chocolate chip. You liked the simplistic, classic, easy to make chocolate chip ones. The ones you can’t even really mess up. I brought them for you anyway hoping you secretly liked the underdog cookies: the ones that needed a bit more love and understanding.

“no matter what she wears.” By Julia at Sambuca Grill

Wednesday, April 3, 2013 at Sambuca Grill
5 minutes
from a quote by Anne Roiphe

My grandfather was a compulsive liar. He used to tell stories to anyone who’d listen. Anyone who wouldn’t–he’d lie even more. I used to wonder how my grandmother put up with him, how she trusted him, how she knew when he was being sincere. She seemed so happy all of the time. She wasn’t one of those closet sad people. No trace of pills, of depression, of long cords tucked under her bed. Nothing like that. She was genuinely content. Then I figured it out. She knew that everything my grandfather said to others wasn’t true; but he would never lie to her. They must have made an arrangement when they were young and in love. She was tough, I forget that sometimes. She was the one who made the decisions. She was the one that put him in his place. He loved my grandmother more than life itself.
I know this because he’d tell us when we were kids, “your grandmother is the laziest woman I’ve ever met.”
She baked for us every Sunday whether we saw her or not.

“cupcakes” by Sasha in High Park

Thursday, November 29, 2012 in High Park
5 minutes
The Lawblaws ad
on the back of NOW Magazine

He doesn’t lick the spoon because Grandpa Finnegan used to smack his hand and this trained him well. He sets the oven to three hundred and fifty degrees and pours the melted chocolate into the batter that waits, patiently, on the granite countertop.

Even in the fifties and sixties, baking was a man’s job. His grandmother and mother, aunts and female cousins played Crazy Eights and Gin Rummy while the boys learned about kneading dough and the science of baking soda. Grandpa Finnegan would visit and bring with him Maldon Salt and thick British molasses. He would smuggle these goods and others in his carry-on luggage and lie to the airport security about health and special needs and about manners regarding ones elders.

Today, Finnegan long gone, he makes cupcakes for his daughter’s ninth birthday. Recently divorced he is over the moon that he got to host the birthday. Ten third graders will be arriving in the late afternoon for manicures and Earl Grey tea… and cupcakes, devil’s chocolate cupcakes. Finnegan’s recipe.