I am deep in the midst of Thanksgiving preparations: cranberries purchased; pumpkins roasted and waiting to become pie filling; brown and serve rolls ready for baking. But during a quiet moment in the kitchen yesterday, Eli asked if he could bake cookies. I have learned that it’s best to say yes and stand back.
“Mama,” he said quietly, sneaking up behind me, “I want to make a recipe.”
I looked around the kitchen. My dad was messily stirring together a batch of carrot muffins, while Tony was assembling a marinade for the mushrooms we were taking to a barbecue later that day. I had an apricot-upside down cake in the oven and two lined strainers — one of ricotta cheese, one of vanilla ice cream — dripping into bowls. I pictured pouring the whey into the ice cream machine, the unhappy grimaces at sour ice cream, and made a mental note to try not to confuse them.
By now, I’ve told the story of Eli’s Super Cake at over a dozen events, and hundreds of readers have eaten the cake themselves. More importantly, I have learned that when Eli has a recipe idea, I should just stand back and let him create. He does not approach his baking with the scientific precision of Lisa’s daughter, he just goes for it. And when the batter came together so beautifully, he looked up at me and smiled: “I think I have a knack for this.” I think he really does.