now in the high desert

January 30, 2008

first culinary effort

Filed under: Uncategorized — ladyofmaine @ 6:02 am

It occurred to me this morning that I have been lax in accomplishing one of my goals in starting this blog and that is to record family stories that my children and grandchildren have enjoyed over the years. Reading about Lidia’s cooking accomplishments reminded me of my very first foray into culinary creativity and then a remembrance that this is the kind of story I had intended to post from time to time.

This happened when I was about seven and my second brother had not yet been born. Mom was gone somewhere for half the day and my brother, S, and I were at home with our father. Dad went to bed for a nap soon after Mum left, leaving me and S to our own devices.

That summer day I went to play in my little “house” at the edge of the field by our home.
Trees had grown and matured through the boulders of an old rock wall that marked the boundary of the meadow. Earlier I had found a space between five large lichen covered rocks in the tumbled down wall that was roughly oval in shape. I had tossed out the smaller rocks, dead branches and years of dead leaves, pulled leggy weeds and carefully smoothed the earth within those five sides of my “house”. Into this space went a smooth, flat stone several inches high for sitting, a shelf made from a discarded section of board wedged between two of the big boulders, a tiny rock and stick fireplace, and a few scrupulously washed empty tin cans (tuna and peas) to sit on my shelf and use over my fireplace.

As I sat on the “chair” in my little place, an idea of enjoying a personal size chocolate cake
began to form in my mind and I eyed the cooking area with disfavor. While it was useful for turning sand, pebbles and leaves into gustatory delights for my dolls it was woefully inadequate for the preparation of chocolate cake! I had watched Mum make this delicacy and thought I could remember the ingredients.

I went into the house and checked on Dad. He was sound asleep and I knew that he would sleep for a few hours. I rummaged in the kitchen cupboard until I found a small, old aluminum pot that wasn’t used much and which, I reasoned, could serve as a mixing bowl and cooking pan. I used a tablespoon to scoop flour, cocoa, baking powder and salt into the pot, unaware of the need to measure. Next in went enough milk to make it the proper consistency for cake batter. I turned on the oven and slid in the pot of batter.

Time passed as visions of a perfect little cake filled my head. I even decided to invite my brother into my rock house to enjoy it with me. A chocolate aroma began to fill the air but each time I tested the cake with a piece of broom (Mum tested cakes that way for years) the thin straw would emerge with globs of batter hanging from it. Finally there began to be a distinct burning odor coming from the oven so I turned the knob to “off” and used potholders to carefully remove my creation. It was black and flat in the bottom of the pot.

“But,” I thought in my youthful optimism,”It may taste good!” It not only did not taste good but left a distinctly slimy feel in the back of my throat. I tried to empty the contents but the batter had burned onto the sides and bottom of the pot. By then I was running out of time before my mother would be back and I had to erase all signs of my botched attempt at baking. While Mum mellowed a great deal later, she was very strict during her two older children’s childhood and I knew a spanking with the wire end of the flyswatter would be forthcoming. Fortunately it was summer and I left the doors and windows open to air out the house. I had earlier cleaned the counter, put away the ingredients and washed everything I had used. But there was no way I could get the mess out of the cooking pot.

I grabbed the pot and ran into the shed where I found a little shovel used to clean the ashes from the woodstove during winter. I carried these items into the field to a spot where no one was likely to walk, dug a hole, and buried the remains of my first culinary effort.

Luck had been with me that day. Dad was still sleeping, my brother had kept himself involved in play during the whole thing, and I managed to get the evidence of my unauthorized activity disposed of in a timely manner.


January 20, 2008


Filed under: Uncategorized — ladyofmaine @ 11:50 pm

Now that January is here I am indulging in dreaming about camp at the lake and maybe even a vegetable garden. I’ve ordered a Jonny’s Selected Seeds catalog. But the garden will probably stop at dreaming because it would have to be at the house and I hope to be at the lake for much of the summer. But maybe the boys will help me put some winter squash in—we got a good crop last year and that organically grown squash tasted good in the fall.

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