The apron drawer


I am spending an embarrassing amount of time watching CNN these days. It’s like I think I can control the outcome of the American election by keeping a close eye on things. Or maybe it is just like the proverbial car crash: I can’t keep my eyes off our neighbour to the south these days.

One evening during the Democratic convention I decided I could only keep watching if I did something useful at the same time. So I started cleaning kitchen cupboards. It was great! Clear glass vases had apparently reproduced by themselves in the upper shelves of my kitchen cabinets – I boxed up at least a dozen.

Then I moved onto the knick knack cupboards, picking up more speed: crystal salt and pepper shakers with no lids (why?!), plastic Easter eggs, cupcake-themed mugs and trays – where did all this stuff come from. Fired up by Clinton’s commitment to gun control, I sorted swiftly.

Then onto the apron drawer that I knew to be stuffed even before I opened it. And then, the Democrats faded to the background. As I sorted through the pile of soft cloth, I realized my apron collection tells many stories.

The long skirted lime green striped one was from my parents, around when I was 17 or 18 and really cooking a lot. I remember Mom bought this at Piccadilly, a swish kitchen ware store circa 1977 in Saskatoon. I remember how crisp and heavy the fabric was, how elegant this apron was compared to my mom’s tired and worn ones in the drawer by the stove. With teenage paranoia, I kept my apron separate from her old ones and took it with me when I moved out – and, apparently, in every move in the intervening 40 years.

Then there’s the one sewn by Precy, the boys’ favorite nanny, who made me this apron with extra fabric because I am such a messy cook, its circumference practically reaching the middle of my back. I remember buying the apple-covered fabric at a store on Bow Trail in Calgary, probably one of many errands that day as a busy mom.

Next up was the pretty apron from Rebecca, my daughter through marriage, whose gifts are always so thoughtful.  I could imagine her spying this multi-coloured floral one and thinking, “Jean would love that”.

Then there were two aprons from people who worked for me: Steph at the trust company who knew I loved to bake and whose friends had started a trendy online apron business. Its cherry red and white taffeta has a whole new level of apron glamour; the wear and tear shows my fondness of it. Then there is the soft-as-anything vintage apron from Carolyn, PGB’s former customer service manager, set aside when she was curating her vintage wear store inventory. “I knew you’d like this” she said when she gave it to me, and I did.

There’s two from my former mother in law, one featuring cats (Mary’s cards and gifts over the years often featured my fave animal!) and one covered with, yes, cupcakes.

There’s also one from Paris, bought in a little kiosk on Christmas Day near the Eiffel Tower (Andrew will better remember the little cones of warm glazed peanuts that he enjoyed so much from the same area!) and another that Andrew brought back from the Banff Springs Hotel where BMO had a team building exercise in the kitchen of the grand old hotel.

I didn’t make much progress on emptying my apron drawer. I just carefully folded them all and put them back. My work was done for the day.



About the author

Jean Blacklock

Jean opened the popular Prairie Girl Bakery in the financial district of Toronto in 2011. She owned and operated the business until it closed in 2021 as a result of the pandemic’s impact on downtown Toronto. Read more about her background in commerce, law, and entrepreneurship here.

By Jean Blacklock


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