Today I caught a baking bug. It’s been a while since I baked, and it so happens my husband perked up quite nicely when I mentioned it. He asked for apple, then pumpkin, then apple, then faltered and just looked at me. I suggested both. He grinned like the Cheshire Cat, quite pleased.
Pie crusts aren’t my forte and mine have never looked like the works of edible art my mother and grandmother could whip up; mine are palatable, nothing more. I did try something new with the apple pie by placing pie crust heart shaped cut outs on top, instead of a lattice or shell top. It turned out OK.
As my house filled with the smell of spices, pumpkin and apple, I sat back and relaxed for a bit while they were baking and ruminated on the whole cooking thing. I love to cook and bake. I love to do it for other people. I love to do it for my husband. I won’t necessarily do it just for myself, but I should. When friends come to my house and I cook for them? It pleases me so much to see them enjoy their meal. It’s a way for me to say “I love you” and I want you to know it.
How many of you have been transported to childhood, or to a very special memory, simply by the aroma of a kitchen? I know I have. When I smell something delicious like burgundy beef tips and home-made egg noodles (Spaetzle), I see my mom bustling about for Sunday dinner. Cookies galore and cheesecake and fudge and rum balls….mom and me getting ready for Christmas! I remember being just a tiny thing with my tiny little rolling pin “helping” my mom….really making a mess in the corner out of her way….but shared moments nonetheless.
I remember the first “complicated” pie I made from scratch….all by myself (of course mom was hovering just outside the kitchen pretending not to). I was really proud of that lemon meringue pie, and my dad loved it, which made me happy. Mom nodded and smiled, her approval was sweet to me.
Oh the days and days we spent at the end of every summer canning tomatoes and peaches, making preserves and pickles and relishes!
Even the simple act of packing my husband’s take away lunch for work….I sometimes leave notes for him nestled between the wrapped sandwiches, to find on his break to make him smile. Even a PBJ can be a labor of love.
Making bread from scratch is something I do when I need to “de-stress”. The rhythmic motion of kneading bread by hand lulls my mind into a state of “not thinking” and just being one with what I’m doing. It may sound strange, but to me, making bread is the closest to being “Zen” that I get. Not to mention the aroma of baking yeasted breads…..heaven! Oh heaven! I used to know a poem of sorts…about bread….it went to the effect:
“Behind the bread, the grain
Behind the grain, the rain and sun
Behind the sun, God above…”
I believe God is behind every meal and treat I make. Through what I prepare, it is my hope that nourishment both physical and spiritual, is passed to those who sit at my table. I want them to have warm hearts and warm bellies and know they are loved.
It’s an expression for me.
So, that having all been said, I hope it doesn’t make me too strange in this day and age….where all you have to do is pop into your grocer to pick up a fully prepared meal, or buy something in a wrapper or box to pop in the microwave, or worse….”have it your way” at some fast food joint. I do not criticize folks who do this either, to each their own, it’s just not for me.
Whether I feed you hot dogs and beans, or a multi-course meal, sweets and treats, afternoon tea, morning coffee or a simple sandwich…at my table…you will know I love you.
Perhaps I am too “old-fashioned” for 2012.