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Column: In honor of 'ookie-oh'

Every so often, I do something that reminds me that I'm getting older. When, for instance, I bought my home nine years ago, I figured it was time. I was 33, and it seemed like something a responsible adult would do. Thinking I'd like to be considered a responsible adult, I became a homeowner.

When my sister and my sister-in-law announced they were having babies within a month of each other three years ago, I decided the time had come to be the doting aunt and make baby blankets, so I taught myself to crochet.

I've always known how to bake. Given my family history (three great-grandmas who always had cookies on hand, two grandmothers who made pies and cakes on a regular basis and a mother who helped me make my first batch of cupcakes at age 9) it's something I've grown up with. Granted, I don't always take the time to do it anymore - mostly, it's my Christmas cookie-baking weekend with my eldest niece - but I know my way around a mixing bowl.

A few weeks ago, Warrior to Citizen director Annette Kuyper put out an email to the group's membership. There was a steak fry fund raiser planned for last July 18, and she was looking for volunteers and for a few desserts to serve. Silly me, I signed up for both.

My problem is, when I do something like that, I tend to go a bit overboard. For instance, when our Legion Auxiliary had our salad luncheon last September, I made seven salads. Just in case. You don't want to run out, right?

And so began my baking excursion on probably one of the warmest weekends we've had so far.

I did the prep work Wednesday and Thursday. Went through my recipe box, pulled out some of my family favorites. Took inventory of what baking goods I had on hand and what I needed. I bought most of it Thursday after punching out from my part-time job. I told the beau he was on his own for Friday night - I was baking.

By Friday evening, I was ready to go. Except I discovered I needed more sugar. How I overlooked sugar, I don't know, but I did. And so, trip number one to EconoFoods commenced.

I baked for the rest of the evening - even made a pot of goulash in between batches of zucchini bread and banana bread. I made the breads, I made bars, I made brownies. And then I got up Saturday, and I made coffee cake and two batches of cookies. Like I said, I tend to go overboard.

When a friend called about plans for Saturday evening, she had a hard time understanding me. Why she couldn't understand "ookie-oh" meant I was licking the cookie dough from the spatula, I don't know. Within minutes, though, she came to understand chances were good that she was going to get some goodies by the end of the night.

So now it's Tuesday, and there's a half a loaf of zucchini bread on the table at work. Suffice it to say, I had made plenty. Most of the brownies and bars were gone after the steak fry, and my friends and the beau have more or less divvied up the remaining coffee cake and breads. I also shared some with my neighbors, who kindly kept an eye on my home while I was on vacation a few weeks back.

I don't know why I have it in my head that baking is an "older" thing to do. For whatever reason, I've just had this idea that it was a hobby for people like my grandmothers. But after going overboard a little this past weekend, I've come to understand it's okay to be 42 and baking.

After all, when I think about how many smiles I get when I share baked goods with people I care about, I can't help but feel good. Hearing people I care about utter the simple words, "Yum, Chelle," as they bite into a piece of bread or a cookie doesn't hurt, either.

And besides -- I can still hang on to my inner child. That's what "ookie-oh" is all about.

Michelle Leonard

Michelle Leonard joined the Woodbury Bulletin staff in November, 2014, after 14 years covering news for the Bulletin's sister publication, the Farmington Rosemount Independent Town Pages.  Michelle earned her Bachelor of Science degree in Mass Communications: News-Editorial from Mankato State University in 1991. She is an active member of the American Legion Auxiliary Clifford Larson Unit 189 of Farmington, and served as the 2014-15 Third District President to the American Legion Auxiliary Department of Minnesota. Michelle is also the volunteer coordinator for the Minnesota Newspaper Museum which is open annually during the Minnesota State Fair. She has earned Minnesota Newspaper Association awards in Investigative Reporting, Local News Coverage, Feature Photography and Column Writing. 

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