A mother’s kitchen

Baking with children stirs up priceless Christmas memories, writes columnist Ursula Maxwell-Lewis

This is what’s left of my first cook book. My mother has noted inside: “Ursula’s first Cook Book. Clarkson, Ontario. She was about 7, and spelt sugar ‘shooger’.”

I can imagine her chuckling at my phonetic spelling. Thankfully both my spelling, and cooking, improved.

Clearly the book was popular. It was first published in 1932, and republished in 1945.http://webpapersadmin.bcnewsgroup.com/portals/uploads/cloverdale/.DIR288/wUrsula-sCookBook.jpg

Since all the ingredients would have still been rationed when we left Britain, it must have been a Canadian purchase.

On page 1, Rules for Little Cooks, instructs mini-chef to: Wash your hands. Put on your apron. Read your recipe carefully.

Correct table setting is emphasized. The closing instruction is: “Sweep the kitchen and leave it in order.”

Recipes include Fairy Gingerbread, Old King Cole Spinach, Circus Salad, and Penuche.

Measurements and implements are all clearly sketched to compensate for the cook’s limited reading skills.


Baking with children, particularly for holidays, stirs up priceless family memories.

My son, Derek, and youngest daughter, Hilary, are both good main course cooks. Helene, my eldest daughter, prefers baking with an eye for decorating.

Licking baking bowls, spoons, and Mixmaster beaters were talents honed early. Punching down newly risen bread dough was, I think, their favourite baking ‘job’.

To this day all three insist that Christmas Wife Saver is a tradition. Although all are now in their own Alberta homes, Christmas Eve will find each of them layering whipped eggs and cream, ham or bacon, bread and cheese in a baking pan.

On Christmas morning, while presents are being unwrapped, the scent of CWS baking will waft through their houses, just as it did when they were kids.


Tradition also meant trekking up to Cloverdale Baptist Church for the Christmas Eve Carol Service, which included real candles until the overflowing congregation posed an unholy fire hazard.

As the kids became teens I announced one December 24 that I would no longer harass anyone into attending the Carol Service. My son, voted most likely to cheer at such a reprieve, rendered me speechless by indignantly retorting, “Of course we’re going! It’s tradition!”


Another family tradition began when my youngest was about 8, and I was particularly broke. For $5 per person the Mormon Church was staging A Christmas Carol. I didn’t care how bad it was, we were going.

To my complete astonishment the production was excellent. The Three Little Lewises were entranced. From then on a Christmas play, or pantomime, was in the cards.

I count getting my 11-year-old jock to The Dancing Princess pantomime one snowy Christmas among my finest hours. Upon discovering he could boo the villains and cheer the good guys he forgave me and became the production’s biggest fan.


Every year Santa delivered a new board game. A tradition which has, I presume, given way to all players retreating nowadays to solitary cyber worlds. What a pity. Oddly enough, I recently delivered the old Pente game (the Greek strategy game, Five Smooth Stones) to its surprised, delighted, now 42-year-old owner.


My three-year-old granddaughter cooks with both her parents. I wonder if she needs a cookbook and an apron…


– Ursula Maxwell-Lewis is founding editor and publisher of the Cloverdale Reporter



Follow the Cloverdale Reporter on Twitter and Facebook. View our print edition online.

Just Posted

Cloverdale lacrosse player raising money for trip to nationals

Elijah Gill, 12, is the sole Surrey player on Team BC for PeeWee Lacrosse

Surrey, SFN to sign water-network agreement

Deal comes two years after SFN receives service-termination notice from White Rock

Delta Student Police Academy a ‘once in a lifetime experience’ for teens

The 24 students got a chance to see inside the world of a Delta police officer

UPDATE: Missing woman located

Police report late Thursday evening that Surrey woman has been located

BC Games: Dance, spoken-word highlights at Opening Ceremony in Cowichan

Hundreds of athletes and thousands of volunteers, coaches, parents and officials

Scammers dressed as Mounties threaten to arrest senior if she doesn’t cough up cash

Pair of fraudulent officers threaten to arrest 90-year-old woman

Trump slams Federal Reserve rate hikes

Fed raised benchmark rate for a second time this year in June, and projects two more hikes to come

5 to start your day

Plea for help to find hockey dad’s killer, Langley diver shares story of Thai cave rescue, and more

Okanagan Wildfires: The latest on wildfires and evacuations

A Friday morning look at the major wildfires impact the Okanagan and Similkameen.

UPDATED: 1,500 residents on evacuation alert as Peachland under state of emergency

The Mount Eneas wildfire has forced an evacuation alert of 596 properties

Police to provide update on case against alleged serial killer Bruce McArthur

McArthur worked as a landscaper, allegedly concealed the remains of seven men in planters

Premiers to wrap up 2 days of meetings at New Brunswick seaside resort

Meetings held in the scenic seaside town of St. Andrews on Thursday focused on trade

B.C. city wants pot banned from ALR

Mayor and council are concerned about conversion from growing food to making marijuana

Most Read