The pioneer way


The other day I found myself thinking about homemade baked goods.  So, that evening, after half an hour on the treadmill at the Boston Sports Club, I popped down to the supermarket and bought a pack of Betty Crocker Rainbow Chocolate Candy Cookie Mix.  Approximately forty-five minutes later, Partner and I were sharing a nice plate of warm homemade cookies.



Yes, I know, “homemade” is one thing, and “from scratch” is another.  I do lots of baking from scratch: pancakes, banana bread, real homebaked bread, pies, pound cake, genoise, fruitcake.  But sometimes I just want it quickly, and I don’t want to fool around.



I am just WASPy enough to feel vaguely guilty about this.  My grandmother, after all, was a Washington Pioneer, born in Washington Territory six months before statehood in 1889.  Grandma grew up in a shack, and did everything from scratch, or not at all.  


Even when I bake “from scratch,” I still use an electric oven.  I don’t fire up a wood-burning stove.  I don’t gather eggs from the backyard, or churn my own butter.  I don’t have the right ingredients to capture the distinctive flavor of the Betty Crocker Rainbow Chocolate Candy Cookie, like carnauba wax and soy lecithin and beeswax.  (I kid you not, they’re listed right there on the packet.)



I do not think Grandma Williams brewed up her own carnauba wax.  Her cookies were very good nonetheless.



Would Grandma have turned up her nose at my instant quickie cookie-dough mix? I think not.  She did not, after all, turn up her nose at electricity and automobiles and indoor plumbing when they came along.  She was very conscious of time-saving and labor-saving devices; she had eleven kids, and she seemed always to have a house full of people, all of whom expected to be fed on schedule.



She needed all the help she could get.



As do I.



So: Grandma Williams and I are both pioneer women in our way, aren’t we?





About Loren Williams
Gay, partnered, living in Providence, working at a local university. Loves: books, movies, TV. Comments and recriminations can be sent to

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