I don’t remember my father ever baking but he was not afraid to kick back by the cooktop with a touch of savoir-faire and a scorn for recipes.
This makes it difficult to pass along his favorites to my sons.
But I'll try. Family tradition is, after all, family tradition.
Oatmeal: Serve hot every morning in late fall, all winter, and early spring. Alternate with Malt-o-Meal or Cocoa Puffs if the family starts to whinny and ask that you just put breakfast in a feed bag and strap it around their necks.
Rice: Top rice with butter, brown sugar and cinnamon. Serve with a hamburger patty on the side.
Pancakes: A mix? Who needs a mix? Play around with flour, milk, leavening and egg proportions. Forget to write the perfect one down so the next time you make pancakes is another adventure. Shape like bears, sheep, birds, and cows. Don’t worry that they all look like cumulus clouds. Save leftovers, spread with jelly the next day, roll up and eat cold.
Pudding: If you mess with cornstarch, milk, sugar, butter, vanilla enough times you will come up with pudding. Apportion it into individual plates. Take food coloring and dye each one in each child’s favorite color. Hope no one wants deep red.
Hot cocoa mix: Take powdered milk and sugar and creamer and cocoa and salt and vanilla and experiment till you have the perfect concoction. Write it down on the back of an old envelope so you don’t forget. Lose envelope, start over because it could have been better anyway.
Dutch oliebollen: literally ‘oil’ or ‘fat balls'. Don’t worry about a recipe. You are deep-fat frying balls of dough and rolling them in sugar. You can’t go wrong!
There you go, sons. Your grandpa began a proud tradition. Now carry on. Just don’t throw away old envelopes without checking the back first.