So much went into designing and finishing the brand for Goldilocks Goodies I hardly know where to begin. Soon after I started brainstorming, I realized this needed to be a multi-storied approach, so here is the first.
I knew the most important concept to me was that I come from a very talented line of bakers. Growing up, I’m pretty sure my mom had something in the oven every day of the week – baked oatmeal, bran muffins, chocolate chip cookies, zucchini bread . . . The smells would wake us in the morning and greet us when we got home from school. Everything she made would be gone that day so it was a constant array of treats every week. (She also canned vegetables, made jelly and pickled beets, rolled pasta and sewed our clothes but I’ll try not to veer off course here). She learned most of this from her mom, but she’s also been very diligent at collecting recipes from friends, potlucks and even restaurants. The first bite of something she loved, she would say, “I could make this at home.”
Her mother is a legendary baker – I swear she can make a pie crust in her sleep and she never uses a recipe. Like most farm girls that married, she was expected to cook for her husband (and his family at times) according to their tastes. She was shown how by her mother-in-law; Taught in the kitchen, by watching and doing, so there were never recipes written down. Her grandkids all swoon over her spaghetti sauce, cooked down all day on an iron skillet from her own canned tomatoes. She would make legendary pies out of the huckleberries our pop-pop would hand pick in the mountains every summer. The cookies for holidays are momentous – one entire closet held all the hand made cookies – sand tarts so thin and crispy they were heavenly, raisin-filled cookies, ranger cookies, oatmeal cookies, peanut butter cookies, chocolate dipped peanut butter crackers, turtles, snowballs, and regular ol’ chocolate chip. The cookie tray would make the rounds of the table to protests, after huge portions of ham, oyster stuffing, venison, sweet potatoes, mashed potatoes, string beans, sweet corn . . . but we couldn’t say no. Then came the pies, pumpkin pies, minced meat pies, shoo fly pies, pecan pies. Groans! Pie! No more! My grandmother would also make her own doughnuts, a great-aunt was known for her bear claws, and my grandfather would make his own potato chips and churn ice cream. We would call them up after the first good snow to see if they were making ice cream up the road. Such treats.
Her mother-in-law was the maker of the family-famous old-fashioned caramel icing. Let me tell you about this icing. It adorns chocolate cake at special occasions throughout the year. When I was little it was mostly at family picnics and my grandparents’ annual corn roast (If you haven’t had sweet corn, picked that day from the field, and roasted in burlap bags over a charcoal pit, my friends. …). My mom and a few aunts continue to make the cake upon request for holidays and I think all of us kids say we request it for our birthdays (and I’m happy to say there are no gluten ingredients in it so I continue to enjoy it on a wonderfully rich, soft, gluten-free chocolate cake). Ahem. Back to the story. I wonder if she learned from her mother, or her mother-in-law and I think about the history and traditions behind the food we eat.
To that end, I didn’t know much about my grandmother’s side of the family. The farm she lived on during my lifetime was from her husband’s side of the family, with the father (my great-grandfather) and a great uncle running the dairy farm attached. Combined, they had hundreds of acres, for potatoes, corn, sheep and cows. This was my backyard. I could literally walk through the woods to my great uncle’s dairy farm, and from his house down a farm lane to my great-grandfather’s house. Then through another path to one of my aunt’s house and finally to my grandparents house.
I went out sight-seeing with my grandmother one day for her to show me where she grew up, and where her relatives were from. The barn in the picture is where her father grew up – it would have belonged to my great-great-grandfather. It took some trouble finding it since the farm path that used to connect from the main road is no longer there. We had to explore some smaller paved roads to reach it and it’s now Amish-owned. I’m glad to see it is still a working farm. Thank goodness there are places like Lancaster County.
Of course, there’s a lot to be said about using local (and hyper-local) ingredients in baking and cooking. But the precious time and skill that these farm women had while raising kids and driving a tractor is absolutely awe-inspiring. After a long day in the kitchen, I think about my grandmother hand rolling a hundred sand tarts and seeing them gone in a day. Or my mom making thousands of meals for our family from scratch and gone in 30 minutes. It’s truly humbling. I love the fact that everything I make under Goldilocks Goodies is made by hand, and as the audience grows, I vow to stay committed to the care and skill that my foremothers had every time they wrapped an apron around their waist and rolled up their sleeves. It’s about taste. It’s about quality. It’s about care.
To be continued.. . .