Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Promises and Memories

Here we are again on the cusp of another autumn hanging onto the last threads of summertime. As I do with the changing of every season, I find myself drifting back to years gone by and how with each changing of the season I have changed and grown and acquired some wisdom; think a bit differently if you will. I think I soften and become melancholy with the passing of the time. This year a bit more perhaps because of losing Gregg’s dad in October of last year. Nothing seemed to fit together right this summer, of course it didn’t …. Something or in this case someone was missing…each holiday since the passing was the first since….you know what I mean when you have lost someone. You find yourself saying, this is the first Halloween, the first Christmas, the first birthday, the first Easter…and on and on. Seems if you can get past all the firsts then you …who am I kidding …nothing will ever be the same …even if it does get easier.

I am also in the process of teaching my 4th graders about writing a personal narrative…have been flooding them with books written about memories and sharing my own. They get it but it is just hard to pull out the details and descriptions from them…we continue to work….During this study I came across an unexpected editorial in one of my cooking magazines of all places and it talked about promises to keep. Promises to keep old ways from one generation to another, promises to share how a person’s word should mean something, how it feels to know all that can be done between sunrise and sunset. He went on to say he wanted to grow up to know what it is like to pull on his boots and trod through manure, enjoy a sunrise cup of coffee in the barn….to make the most of what lies between the bookends of a summer day or even life (I really like that part).

So I guess I am learning along with my students to cherish those memories, and loved one …hold on to them and use them to make promises to myself, my family, and those memories and maybe to those we have lost who can hear those promises on the winds of time.

Saturday, June 4, 2011

What you notice when you look through what is good inside us all!

What you notice when you look through what is good inside us all!

Last week I was sitting at the doctor’s office. The appointment was for me so I was alone. I am never alone at the doctor’s office and I am always involved in my children and never truly notice what is going on around me. This day I could notice others who were not related to me and quietly ease drop on conversations, catch glimpses of others and what was going on with them. One of the first things I noticed was the elderly couples waiting and coming in and out of the office. Husbands, patient and tender holding to the arms of their wives. Two of these little ladies were on oxygen and the husbands carried the tanks carefully while taking the smallest, slowest steps. I imagined how long they had been married, had they any children? I was particularly struck by one couple who looked like they could have just returned from a safari. He wore cargo shorts, a cool linen shirt, and a jungle hat. She wore the same type of hat but in a feminine style. She had on a beautiful wooden bracelet and a large ring (the kind I like to wear). Sadly however she was in a wheelchair and he walked with a bow in his back and small slow steps. I could see how she was once very beautiful and he very dashing. Made me think of Bogart…and Casablanca.

The next scene I noticed was a little dark eyed girl who I overheard her mom saying was turning four in June. Little children usually notice me and want to play with me or talk with me but this little girl took no notice of me. Instead she noticed the elderly women. Some of these women would have scared me when I was a little girl I am ashamed to say simply because of not understanding. However, this little girl was unafraid and would walk up to these ladies and say the sweetest “Hello”. The ladies were so delighted that this sweet, fresh little flower was noticing them and wanting to talk with them. She even embraced one lady and I thought the lady would just melt right there. Then I heard her mom say how much the little girl had loved her great grandmother who recently passed away at 93. The little girl added “she went to Heaven and she loved me very much” followed by “I kissed her but she didn’t kiss me back” (This of course happened during the viewing).

I heard my name being called by the nurse and quietly slipped from the precious scenes being played out in that waiting room as I wiped a tear from my face.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Pound Cakes

The name (Pound Cake) comes from the fact that the original pound cakes contained one pound each of butter, sugar, eggs, and flour. No leaveners were used other than the air whipped into the batter. In the days when many people couldn't read, this simple convention made it simple to remember recipes.

I am a fan of the pound cake whether it be buttermilk, lemon, plain, or any other of the numerous varieties you can make. Pound cakes are probably the easiest of all cakes to make from scratch. They are also very versatile. You can add any topping you like to a pound cake or if you prefer you can eat them sliced straight from the cake plate. You can make them ahead and freeze them to eat later. This is a great idea to prepare around the holidays. It is always best to have one in the freezer for unexpected guests, or births of babies, or sadly a death.

Sarah Addison Allen writes about a cake maker in The Girl Who Chased the Moon. The way she describes the flour and sugar floating in the air swirling …(quote from book) “Crystalline swirls of sugar and flour still lingered in the air like kite tails." is how I imagine the air when I am baking a cake, pure magic when those simple ingredients come together to make a heavenly delight. By the way I highly recommend Sarah Addison Allen’s books…

I have shared one of my most recent favorite and ever so easy pound cake recipes. Please share your favorite one!

Strawberry Swirl Cream Cheese Pound Cake

1½ cups of real butter, softened

3cups sugar

1 (8oz) package of cream cheese, softened

6 large eggs

3 cups of all-purpose flour

1 tsp almond extract

½ tsp vanilla extract

2/3 cup strawberry glaze

Preheat oven 350

Beat butter at medium speed. Gradually add sugar, beating at medium speed until light and fluffy. Add cream cheese, beating until creamy. Add eggs one at a time, beating until blended after each addition.

Gradually add flour to butter mixture. Beat at low speed just until blended after each addition, stopping to scrape down sides of bowl as needed. Stir in extracts. Pour 1/3 of batter into greased tube pan.

Dollop 8 rounded teaspoons of strawberry glaze over batter and swirl with a wooden skewer. Repeat once more, and top with remaining 1/3 of batter.

Bake at 350 for 1 hour and 10 min. Cool in pan for 10-15 min .

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Snow Day

If you are like me you are thinking…”this weather reminds me of winters when I was little”. Seriously, the last big snows that I remember well (besides the blizzard of 93) occurred when I was a little girl. I remember one year it snowed a lot around Thanksgiving. I remember walking down to my grandpa’s house and the snow came over my boots. There were many other snowy winters throughout those childhood years. The memories can run wild through my mind when I look at the snow falling through adult eyes. We could not sled down the road because it would make it slick as glass my daddy would say. We would argue because the road was the perfect place to sled. It had all the right amount of hills and curves. We never won and did not understand why….silly us. We ended up sledding or tubing in the pasture. That was lots of fun. There was always snowman building and then pictures. Mom had to get pictures of us posing with our creations. You know you all still do that today…I have seen pictures on facebook. I am glad some things never change. There was always good comfort food cooking. I specifically remember a pot of pintos on the wood stove…they tasted better that way. We kids thought it was the best thing ever to have snow days. I also remember my daddy pacing the floor saying lots of not so nice words about the weather and the mountains. He worked construction, bulldozer, dump truck ….and if he didn’t work the bills didn’t get paid. Now as an adult I can clearly see why he hated the winter in Western NC. When you have a family to feed, your idea of fun shifts.

I am grateful that my daddy no longer has to pace the floor to worry about feeding his family or paying the bills (even though he probably still does). I am grateful that Gregg and I have jobs that do not require us to risk our lives to go to work on snow and ice days. I do wish however, that my kids could feel the sheer joy that snow brought to me, my sister, and brother so long ago ..don’t misunderstand me, my kids do love the snow but they have so many other things to entertain them than we did. It is just different…..