My Grandma Winell was known for her baking skills. You couldn't leave her house without some kind of treat in your belly, nor would you want to.
She made these butter cookies at Christmastime that were a family staple. Shaped like crescent moons, they were lightly frosted and melted in your mouth.
There was her vanilla ice cream roll with homemade chocolate sauce. I remember one Christmas she didn't make it and tantrums were thrown. Needless to say, that never happened again.
When I was in college, she'd make me my own batch of "church windows" -- those colored marshmallow treats covered in dark chocolate and coconut -- because I couldn't make the family get together. "Uncle Dan doesn't need them all," she'd tell me.
Cakes, cookies, cobblers -- every family member had a favorite.
My grandma died in 2011.
I remember the next day, my mom called. She was at grandma's house with some family members, going through belongings left behind.
"Anything you want?" mom asked.
All of us granddaughters wanted items from grandma's kitchen, all of us going for things tied to individual memories of our time with her. I took her glass candy dish, a pie plate and a mixing bowl. Kami took the fork and cookie cutter grandma used to make doughnuts. Abby has baking dishes and pans, measuring cups and spoons. Grandma's mixer and apron went to Sharon. Carrie has her rolling pin, a couple decorative dishes and a glass platter. Courtney took more bakeware and serving dishes.
Other items are spread out among the family.
It was like we didn't want grandma's baking tradition to die with her. But maybe it doesn't work that way.
Recently, a couple family members made my grandma's doughnut recipe. They said the doughnuts almost tasted like grandma's.
The other day I made grandma's cakey molasses cookies that we all called "yum yum cookies." They were good, but not like I remembered.
Carrie made her oatmeal cookies last week, but said they weren't the same.
Several of us have tried to make those moon-shaped butter cookies over the years. Despite following the recipe to a "T," no one has been able to replicate them.
I'm sure that even if I followed grandma's exact cherry pie recipe, using her pie plate that I now have, my uncles would all tell me it was missing something.
I don't care if I ever have a slice of ice cream roll with homemade chocolate sauce again -- it will never taste like hers.
Turns out, it doesn't matter if you're going off grandma's old recipe card. It doesn't matter if it's mixed in grandma's old bowl, with her old mixer and baked in her pan. It doesn't matter if you're wearing grandma's apron, measuring with her spoons and serving it on her old platter.
It will never be the same.
Maybe it wasn't grandma's recipes, her bowls or her spoons.
Maybe it was just grandma.
Rachel Brougham writes about a number of topics in this column which appears each Thursday. Email her at email@example.com or follow her on Twitter @RachelBrougham.