Breakfast, 1971. It looks like my mom and I are having coffee cake, which was something she often made (though not as often as her banana bread).
I seem to be just picking at my food. Like many four-year-olds, I wasn't a particularly enthusiastic eater. If you were to examine the back of the ugly yellow chair behind us, you would find numerous little cuts that I used to make with my table knife when my mom wasn't looking. It was my way of protesting the injustice of having to sit at the table until I had finished my meal.
I wasn't much older than this when my mom first started letting me help her with her baking. I clearly remember her showing me how to separate eggs, beat the whites into fluffy peaks, and then carefully fold in the beaten whites into a batter without deflating them. (Separating the eggs was beyond me for a few years, but I was a natural at folding from the get-go.)
It was in this cramped little kitchen that I invented my own version of the Fruit Roll-Up by pouring a glass of orange juice into an 8x8 pan and baking it until was a brownish orange scum. I remember my mom advising me that orange juice might not bake up well, but her caution was misplaced--I peeled off my "orange cake" in jiggly strips and ate them with delight.
As adult, my cooking skills exceeded my mother's by quite a margin. I suppose that's the destiny of most gay sons. Today, though, when I recall that awful mess of orange pulp adhered to a battered tin baking pan, I realize that my mom was teaching me an important culinary lesson: it's okay to experiment and take chances with your cooking.
When I was an adult, I returned the favor by introducing her to using fresh garlic instead of garlic powder, ricotta cheese instead of cottage cheese in her lasagna, and tuna steaks instead of Chicken of the Sea. (I never could never convince her to leave the tuna even a tiny bit rare inside, though. She was far too Irish to believe such a thing was sane.)
Oh well, at least she was brave enough to eat "orange cake" baked by a deranged toddler.