Tara wrestled with the strings of the light blue apron wrapped several times around her five-year-old waist. She strained her neck back to see which rabbit ear she was missing. “Mama, I can’t get this. Can you . . .” But Mama was already there, tying the strings together and helping her onto the stool.

Tara’s hands rested on the edge of the counter as Mama tied her own red and white checkered apron around her waist. Tara loved that apron. Mama always baked something special when she wore it. “What are we going to make today?” she asked.

“Cookies,” Mama answered.

“What kind?”

Mama handed her a recipe card. It had a smudge of chocolate on one corner and a stain splattered on another. Tara didn’t even have to sound out the words. “Daddy’s favorite cookies! He’ll be so surprised when he comes home!”

“Why don’t you sound out these two words while I get the ingredients from the pantry?” Mama said, pointing to the top line.

Tara bit her lip. “One ‘c’ brrrr... ooouuuu,” she hesitated. “Brown?”

Mama nodded. “The ‘c’ stands for cup. It says one cup of brown sugar.”

“Brown sugar!” Tara’s eight-year-old brother, Micah, strode into the kitchen, a coonskin cap perched on his head. The tail swung forward as he laid down his rifle, two pistols, a plastic hunting knife, and a rope. “Can I taste it?”

Mama let them each nibble the sugar. It tasted so good! Tara helped dump the sugar into the mixing bowl as Micah galloped off after outlaws. Mama cracked the eggs while Tara kept sounding out the ingredients.

Once they mixed the dough and scooped out twelve cookies, Mama slid the cookie sheet into the oven and set the timer. Tara sat near the stove while the kitchen filled with a warm, tasty aroma.

When the timer beeped, Tara jumped to her feet. “They’re done!” Mama took the pan out and placed it on the counter. The cookies were plump, golden brown and baked to perfection. “They look beautiful, Mama.”

They had just arranged the warm cookies on a plate and poured a cold glass of milk when Daddy came through the front door. “Hmmm. I smell something delicious.”

“We baked you cookies today, Daddy,” Tara announced.

“I tasted them first, just to make sure they were safe to eat,” Micah informed their father. A silver sword hung at his waist. Daddy removed the silver helmet from Micah’s head to tousle his hair.

“It looks to me as if you all did a fine job.” Daddy took a bite of a warm, gooey cookie and nodded his head. “A fine job indeed.”

Since we all have to eat to stay alive, baking and cooking are part of our everyday lives. Sometimes we make a recipe from memory, and other times we try something new. There are times we make dinner from scratch with ingredients right there in our own kitchens and other times it comes from a convenient box. But each time we mix, saute, baste, broil, fold, steam, and marinate, we learn a little bit more about cooking and baking and all the fun that goes into it. Don’t believe me when I say it’s fun? Come along with me on a tasty trip to the kitchen and we’ll see what we learn in the process.