The Gardens - In the Beginning

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Bad Girl

Eating's a treat, I'm told by those at my table, the few times I still venture into the realm of gourmet cooking. Hard to believe as I sit staring at this computer trying to conjure up a tale of kitchen wit and woe, and a Marie Callender's frozen pot pie, micro-waved to perfection, is sitting in front of me half eaten. Cooking over half a century. Egads!!! No, I don't have one foot in the grave...not yet anyway. Cooking school experience was mom's kitchen and a Betty Crocker Childern's Cookbook. Tasks too easy...nine year old bored...on to the real thing...Betty Crocker Cookbook for the not so young. Self taught, as mom never ventured into the trials and tribulations of teaching a child to master the kitchen, I craved recipes that would elicit ooooozs and aaaaahs from my captive audience (no escape was allowed from the dinner table). Somewhere in time my cooking skills began to match Mom's and she, realizing she had a good thing going for herself, made me the household cook. Although I think now days this might be looked upon as indentured servitude, back then it was just "I'm glad I have a child that cooks...now I don't have to myself...hallelujah!" Routine was always dinner first, then the rest of my life. Never went shopping for ingredients. I was expected to create meals out of thin air...whatever was in the fridge and pantry. The ticket to a meal conjured up this way is to have a brain exploding with creativity. Excelling so well at dinners of magical origins, I eventually was allowed to have a small shopping list of my own. This arrangement soon became an incredible chore of enormous proportions that I was never allowed to escape from until my eighteenth year when I began to live mostly on my own. Perhaps this explains the fondness of that twisted memory I have never been able to let go of after all these years.

Loving challenge of cake decorating, and because this talent was both my expression of love and a way to be loved, I announced to mom that her birthday cake that year would be created by me. It would be a poppy seed cake with lemon icing, mom's favorite. Electric mixer came at a later period, worse luck, when mom inherited her mother's mixer; sooooo...with jaw clinched tight, arm aching, and large spoon in hand, I beat that cake mix for what seemed like an eternity counting from one to 300...I think...not quite sure anymore how many strokes mom deemed sufficient to equal the box instructions for an electric mixer. Carefully filling prepared cake pans, baking with one eye always on the oven, I had to create the most absolutely perfect cake ever baked. It was for mom...it had to be perfect. Cake layers plopping out of inverted cake pans onto wire cooling racks set on the burners of the gas stove...wax paper circles removed...I was free to enjoy life as the cakes cooled to room temperature.

!!! HORRIFIED !!! That's the feeling I remember engulfing my whole being when I stood at that stove, removing cooled cake layers from stove top. Burners below were encrusted and clogged with what seemed like a ton of raw gooey cake batter that leaked out of bottoms of the not-quite-cooked-all-the-way-through cake layers. Mom spent more than an hour of her birthday cleaning all that gunk away from the burners and burner holes. I was never punished, reprimanded, nothing was ever said. I cannot recall any other time I was ever allowed to get away with murder over a mistake of this magnitude. This one time it truly was the thought that counted more to mom, I guess, than that nightmare aftermath she had to endure. I never, ever, a thousand times a thousand, undercooked anything ever, no time, anytime again for the rest of my life. It is kind of a fond memory with me now...I am such a bad girl.


Raisin Oatmeal Cookies
Four handfuls of dirt,
fistful of crumbled leaves,
throw in some tiny pebbles,
add water and gently mix,
round shaped, flattened balls,
sun baked to perfection.

1 comment:

  1. That picture is just precious!!! Here from BPOTW.

    ReplyDelete

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