When I was in 6th grade, my class was given an assignment called “The 4 Month Project.” This wasn’t a very creative name: we were literally tasked with learning a new skill over the course of the next 4 months. We picked our own topics, and at the end of the 4 month period we each did a presentation to show what we’d learned.
I had known this assignment was coming, because I have an older brother who’d done it a couple years before. So I already had potential projects in mind when the assignment landed on my desk. When I went home that night, I announced to my mom that I had thought of two perfect options for my project. “Mom,” I said, “I want to learn either woodworking, or flower arranging. Silence. More silence. And then my mom said: “Why don’t you to something that’s a little easier to coordinate? Like… baking?”
At first, I was bummed. How did she not see the value of paying for woodworking classes for her 11 year old daughter?! Ridiculous! But the more I thought about it, the more I realized that learning how to bake was a really good idea. You see, baking has always had a special place in my family. Every special event and holiday has its own set of baked goods, and it’s been that way since I can remember. New Year’s means oatmeal chocolate chip cookies. Thanksgiving means zucchini bread. Birthdays mean a special mint chocolate cake. Over the course of the next 4 months, my mom taught me how to make our favorite recipes and encouraged me to find new ones to make, too. I’m sure my classmates were happy to be the test subjects for my baking experiments!
Now that I’m older, I am SO glad she talked me into the baking plan. First of all, it was wonderful to spend time with my mom, learning her techniques and recipes. I still measure everything the way she taught me, leveling off each measuring cup with the back of a knife. Second, she was right that it was easier to coordinate- we could shove in “4 Month Project” time whenever we had a free moment, as opposed to trying to schedule classes with a master woodworker or driving far away to hit up a flower market. And third: my 4 Month Project has become a lifelong passion. I didn’t just learn something so I could get a good grade: I learned a hobby that I’ll have for life. Sixth grade was a long time ago, and to this day, baking is one of my favorite things to do when I have some free time. So I guess what I’m saying is: thanks mom! So happy I learned.
And now, a couple of recipes! The oatmeal chocolate chip cookie recipe my family uses actually came from an old Quaker Oats tin. They’ve since changed the recipe somewhat, but I think this one I found online looks about right. We swap out raisins for chocolate chips, but that’s up to you!
And because I love it so- here’s the zucchini bread recipe we use, too:
Delicious Zucchini Bread
1 tsp shortening
2 medium zucchini (1.5 cups shredded)
2 cups flour
3/4 tsp salt
3/4 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp baking powder
1.5 tsp cinnamon
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup oil
1.5 tsp vanilla
Pre-heat oven to 325
Use shortening to coat ends of a 5×9 inch loaf pan. Line sides and bottom with waxed paper. Scrub zucchini, but do not peel. With disc in place in your food processor, add zucchini thru the feed tube. transfer to a large mixing bowl. Reassemble processor with steel blade. Add flour, salt, soda, baking powder, cinnamon, and sugar. Cover feed tube with hand. Process just until blended. Remove cover and add eggs, oil, vanilla. Process only until blended. Add to bowl with zucchini- stir, or use your hands to blend. Pour into prepared pan.
Bake 1 hour 15 minutes, or until bread shrinks slightly from edges of pan. Enjoy!