Connelly and her nana bake up delicious memories during spring break.

Connelly and her nana bake up delicious memories during spring break.

Spring break conjures up images of road trips and beaches. Connelly, age nine, travels to her grandmother’s house for cookie baking. Nana, also known as Julie McKinney, is delighted to have help. The pair assembles ingredients for dough on the kitchen counter.

“Turn on both ovens at 350 degrees,” Nana said.

With freckles dusting her nose, Connelly twirls in her dress toward the appliances. She peers at the dial, and her grandmother stays close to assist. Then Nana puts on her “This Legend Has Retired” apron, while Connelly ties on a pink unicorn one.

They study the yellowed, dog-eared index card holding the secret family favorite: pumpkin-chocolate chip cookies.

“There’s a story behind this,” Nana said. “My dad was a high school principal in the 1970s. The home economics class would ask him to taste recipes and give feedback. He got this recipe from a student who had had it in her family a long time. These cookies are like puffy cake, not crunchy.”

Connelly stands on a stool and lifts a measuring cup. “Nana’s the short one. She needs the stool, not me.”

The girl scoops out flour, then levels the top with a butter knife like a pro.

“Don’t lose your count,” Nana said, as she spooned shortening.

With quiet harmony and efficiency, they work their way through the directions.

“I love mixing all the stuff up, that’s fun,” Connelly said. “What I like NOT doing is tasting the raw dough. Ugh.”

Nana is semi-retired and plans to share cookies with her co-workers. “One of the gals is allergic to pumpkin, so we make a separate bag with just chocolate chip ones for her.”

Connelly is proud of her skills. She can read the recipes and follow along. “I’m also working on fractions from zero to one. See, one-half plus one-half equals one cup.”

A chime signals that pre-heating is completed. “What else do you need next?” Nana asked.

“Eggs,” Connelly said. “Not many of my friends bake.”

She is fortunate that her grandmother shares the love of cooking. “A whole generation is losing the skill of creating from scratch.”

Nana recalled cooking meals for her parents while in high school. “I was in the advanced foods class. For our final exam, we had to make dinner for a week at home and write out the recipes. Then our family had to fill out critiques.”

While Nana sprays the cookie sheets, Connelly adds chocolate chips with a flair, singing in her own melody, “Let the magic come alive!”

Soon the first batch of cookies is almost done. The kitchen fills with the aroma of nutmeg and cinnamon. “This is the fragrance of Thanksgiving and holidays,” Nana said.

Though Connelly enjoys learning her way around the kitchen, she also plays sports. “I love playing flag football. All of the players on my first team were boys.”

The youngster balances with grace on her stool. Meanwhile, her grandmother lifts hot-out-of-the-oven cookies with a spatula to cool on paper towels. Together, they share a delicious legacy.

Their love is as sweet as those warm chocolate-pumpkin cookies melting in your mouth.

Recipes for Pumpkin-Chocolate Chip Cookies

Cake version:

Chewy version: