SYRACUSE, N.Y. (NCC News)– Baking is more than just a hobby for Newhouse graduate student Anisa Williams. It’s the way she keeps the memory of her grandmother alive.
Williams first started baking at the age of 13 to spend time with her grandmother, more affectionately known as ‘Mimi’.
“We never really had anything to bond over, other than thrift shopping. But in the kitchen, it was really intimate, like (she would be) telling stories of her childhood. I really got to know her more as a person,” said Williams.
From cooking tips to original recipes, Mimi taught Williams everything she knows about baking.
“Mimi said if the recipe calls for water, use milk. If the recipe calls for oil, use butter. It just gives food, more specifically desserts, that moist texture, and it has a completely different taste,” said Williams.
Growing up, Williams said Mimi would always cook and bake for each family member’s birthday. As such, Mimi’s recipe book has grown to include a wide variety of dishes, from barbecue meatballs to lasagna to brownies and pound cake.
Williams said her favorite recipe is Mimi’s white cake cupcakes, which Williams still hasn’t quite mastered.
“I could never perfect it because Mimi always made two layers of it, and I could never get the consistency or the frosting right. It would always just fall apart. I’m still working on it,” said Williams.
Two months ago, Mimi passed away. Williams said living with this reality is one of the biggest challenges she has faced thus far. One of the main reasons she enjoys baking is because it allows Mimi’s legacy and recipes to live on.
“She gave me all of her cooking tins. I have this cupcake pan,” said Williams. “It was her (Mimi’s) mother’s and her mother’s before that.”
Williams has now assumed the role of top baker in her family, carrying on the tradition that Mimi once upheld. She often bakes red velvet cupcakes, strawberry cupcakes, brownies and fruit tarts for family members’ birthdays and special family events.
“If I bake for you, that means I love you,” said Williams with a smile on her face.
Williams takes pride in continuing Mimi’s traditions, two generations later.