My grandson Jackie answered when I called back.
‘Grandma, when are you going to bring me my chocolate cake?’
Damn! I’d forgotten I’d promised on the weekend that I’d bring him cake today on my way to the post office.
‘I just wanted to know what time because we have to go out for a little while,’ he continued.
‘What time are you going out?’
‘Sometime between twelve and two.’
Perfect, that gave me time to make some chocolate cupcakes, let them cool before I iced them, then drop them off on my way to the post office.
‘That’s great,’ I told him. ‘I was coming just after two o’clock.’ I crossed my fingers as I spoke, glad he couldn’t see me.
‘Cool. See you then.’ Never one to stand on ceremony, he hung up.
I knew the recipe by heart but reached for my old recipe book out of habit. Yellowed pages, stained with food-splash memories from goodness knows how many baking sessions over its forty years of service and a multitude of magazine clippings inside the cover.
Carefully turning the fragile pages, I read the headings - Date Loaf, Banana Cake, Plum Pudding and Coconut Cookies. I’m instantly transported back to my Nan’s tiny kitchen, the old gas stove in the corner, my special drinking glass in the dish drainer and the wooden stool my Pop made for me to stand on. I can smell the delicious aroma of her pumpkin scones, the ones I wouldn’t believe were made with pumpkin because at seven I hated pumpkin. But they were yellow, my favourite colour, and I tried them and they were delicious. Dad, Mum and my brother laughed but Nan showed me how to make them, and as an adult I love pumpkin and still make scones.
I recall the miniature cake tray, rolling pin and spoons I got for my sixth birthday. Mum never had time to let me use them, told me I’d make too much mess, but on school holidays Nan patiently helped me make tiny cakes and sat down to a picnic with my dolls afterwards.
I vow to make all the recipes in the book, relive all the memories again but today I’ll start with the chocolate cake, the recipe painstakingly written in my late brother’s juvenile handwriting. I hear his voice. ‘You have to make lots of chocolate cakes, Sis!’
Jackie loves chocolate cake and he often helps me in the kitchen. Perhaps one day, when he’s my age, his heart will beat a little faster when he remembers cooking with Grandma, and keep the tradition alive with his grandchildren.