The butter sizzled in the skillet, the bread waited patiently in the sea of soggy yellow goo, eager to be transformed into something delicious. I watched as my mother carefully lifted the bread in it's sodden state and gingerly placed it in the skillet. The angry bubbles popped around the edges and after a few moments my mother flipped the bread over, revealing a beautiful golden brown among the pale yellow hue.
French toast...it was the first thing I ever learned to make standing side by side with my mom when I was eight years old. French toast also happens to be the first dish I taught my daughter to make, though she was six.
When Charli was a baby I cooked with her in one arm and a wooden spoon in the other. She spoke her first sentence at nine months old, propped on my hip, while she stared into a pot of chili. As Charli got older I would sit her in the high chair, sometimes, with a pudding cup and I would give her a piece of paper so she could "paint". I would talk to her about what I was cooking for dinner. I was thrilled when Charli was finally old enough to stand up on a chair, that I had turned backward and pushed against the counter. We would stand there side by side, and I would give her simple little tasks so she could "cook" with me.
We made aprons when she was two years old. My apron read "Cookie Baker" while Charli's said "Mess Maker". I painted her little hands and placed them neatly on my apron, then she clapped her hands together and created a beautiful abstract on her own aptly titled apron. Once our masterpieces dried, we made chocolate chip cookies. When she was three I bought her a kid safe knife and gave her a cutting board. As the years have passed, we have traded up to matching, grown up aprons. Charli now uses a real knife and is sure to curl her fingers under so she doesn't cut them off. I am proud of her culinary abilities. Tonight I taught her how to zest a lime being careful not to grate into the pith. She also learned how to make a homemade salad dressing and how to emulsify it.
I am so thankful that Charli loves being in the kitchen as much as I do. We are making wonderful memories together but for us it is more than the sum of our best dishes. The kitchen is our common ground, where we are able to connect regardless of what happened through the day. I am prayerful that it will always be this way. Charli's teenage years are around the corner. I am hopeful that no matter what girl drama she faces, that she will be able to stand with me side by side in the kitchen, and we will still share that common ground. We have shared so much as mother and daughter over cookies and cutting boards...if she becomes a famous chef someday and wins the James Beard award...well that will just be a bonus.