My Gateway Appliance
It opened more than an oven door
According to what I realize is now a “false memory,” I believed one of the key factors in my lifelong obsession with cooking was the gift of an Easy Bake Oven. I pictured myself receiving it as a very young child, perhaps aged six or seven, after considerable pleading with my parents and the promise that I would never ask for anything else again. Full disclosure, I have a vague memory of using that same assurance as I begged for a Chatty Cathy Doll.
I thought I should research the history of the Easy Bake Oven to determine exactly how young I was when I received what I think of as the “gateway appliance” that opened the oven door to a lifetime of obsessive cooking. My research revealed that the very first Easy Bake Oven came on the market in 1963.
For someone with congenitally poor math skills and who struggles with numeracy, the year of my birth—1950—has always made calculations related to it somewhat less challenging for me. Adding to or subtracting from 50 tends to be at the outer limits of my mental math ability, but it’s generally doable. I did the quick math—how the hell could I have been thirteen? In my mind’s eye, I was just a six or seven-year-old who baked what felt like were masterpieces that launched my lifelong passion for all things culinary.
I recall baking those cakes under the light bulb, icing them with the gritty pink icing powder mixed with a bit of water and then adorning the cake with the decorative sprinkles also in the kit. It was the look on my beloved father’s face as he bit into a slice of cake that sealed the deal. Inevitably, he would close his eyes as he chewed and swallowed the bite.
He would then say, “Mmmm, this is the most delicious cake I have ever eaten.” I was hooked.
From Easy Bake to convection bake, the last 58 years of baking and cooking have been a source of creativity, delight, and my primary mode of showing love and gratitude to family and friends. Now, as I endure a year of chemotherapy and travel down an unfamiliar and difficult path with no directions and map, my culinary adventures are an important source of solace and distraction. Living by the ocean on the southwestern shore of Nova Scotia, I am far from St. Viateur and Fairmount Bagel, the haunts of my Montreal childhood.
In fact, I keep my immune-compromised self far from all stores, even the wonderful Montreal Style Bagel bakery that opened a few years ago in Dartmouth. Out of necessity, I decided to try my hands at bagel making.
Not only have the results been delicious, but the whole endeavour has helped distract me from the myriad side effects that chemotherapy inevitably brings. For the hour and a half it takes to mix the dough, rest it, roll it, boil it, and bake it, I forget about all the unpleasant reminders my body sends me.
And then, there is the joy of giving freshly baked bagels away to friends. A reminder to them and to me, that despite cancer, I’m still me.
Thank you to everyone who hit the little heart❤️button on my last story or left a comment. I’m so appreciative of the feedback.
This week is a banner week for stories. I am thrilled to post a story from Barbie Goldbloom-Hughes who is writing her first story (she is my husband’s cousin and one of the most gracious women I know in case you are wondering about the connection between us). She shares a sweet memory and some insights into her current journey.
Happy Easter! Happy Passover! Happy Sunday! Sharing our stories is my small gift to you.
Made me smile--thank you
Barbie, you write as beautifully as you bake. I have dreams reliving the perfection of your bagels! And I speak as one who has known the thrill of devouring fresh bagels at the St Viateur wood fired ovens in Montreal. Thank you for bringing that back. 💖