Thursday, April 3, 2014

Ode to the Kitchen Aid

Baking is my zen....
a soft and comfortable part of my heart...
the act of baking in a kitchen calms me.
And this recipe card, in my mama's hand-written words...
looks a lot like my own pemanship.
The written instructions are not unlike my own thought process
when trying to create something from scratch.

This family recipe...
The cat-print recipe card in the right-hand corner, 
the poppyseeds, the ceramic bowls,
Such nostalgia.
Maybe it's just the spring day.
Maybe it's my sweet tooth talking.

This recipe is one of my favorites.
Reminds me of childhood,
and a Mom who I believe also feels the same way about baking as I do now....
in times when her life is much of a question mark,
where her control means more than not burning a loaf of bread....
Baking in my family is a comforting and simple recipe for success.
And in a family of varying states of repair and dis-repair, 
not burning some bread is the easy part. 

This recipe has seen many of those kinds of days.
This mixer knows what I'm talking about...
This mixer has proven it's worth.
It's a stalwart machine.
The dependable kind.
The kind you would drag from one state to another,
from one kitchen to another,
From one generation to another.

This Kitchen Aid is a hand-me-down.
A christmas gift from a few years back...
She said she wanted to buy herself a new one.
But more than anything, 
I think she just really wanted me to have this piece of her,
a bit of "I love you" without having to waste the words.

Plus, Kitchen Aids come in much fancier colors now....

The Almond suits me just fine. 
but my Mama is much happier with her Cobalt. 
In her words "It's sooooo CUTE!"

I can hear her now...
"Well, Goddamit Erin! You only live once! Why the hell NOT have a cute mixer?"
I am sure I tried not to take the machine for fear she wasn't really going to replace it,
that it was a gift because there was no money at the time to give me anything else.
She wanted to come with me to Montana in any way she could, 
so she sent the mixer instead.

And she's right about one thing,
Why the hell not?

I hear her more and more as I get older,
more now as an adult listening to another adult,
than a child expecting things of her parents.
Expecting some magical fix or fine-tuned answer.

It's a bit of peace to see your parents as equals....
As people just trying their hardest, 
just as floating as you ever were.
Just finding their way,
and learning their own worth,
 trying not to f*** up too bad.
They're people with stories and faults and shortcomings,
and they do not have all the answers.

My Mom is a force to be reckoned with,
no doubt about that.
She is fierce and kind, all in the same motion.
She is fire and water all in one.
And I love that about her.

It is, however, something I find about myself I need to learn to harness,
 it is something I most certainly have inherited....
And something I most certainly do not have control of.
It, I fear, is part of an old puzzle,
one where two people get along and learn to love the other for who they really are,
one where fierceness can easily be misunderstood as anger.
I was told recently that 'you catch more bees with honey'...
I fear that sweetness is not currently in my repertoire,
but I'm working on it.

This is a Midwest sweet-bread folks.
There's nothing healthy about it.
But it is a simple recipe.
And it's damn good. 

I hope you find a day in your kitchen soon
and remember those things your parents gave you.
The pieces and parts of these people that you love,
the parts that scare you when you inflect in juuuust the right tone,
 the parts that send you careening back into your childhood,
the parts that send you into fits of laughter,
the parts that you fear are here to stay.
I hope you find a day soon where your parents are appreciated for who they are,
and also for who they are not.
Because not burning the bread isn't even the half of it.
But it's a start. 

Poppyseed Loaf Delight
(makes 2 loaves)
3 cups flour
1 1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
2 1/4 cups sugar
1 1/8 cups vegetable oil
3 eggs
1 1/2 cup milk - room temperature
1 1/2 teaspoon almond extract
1 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 1/2 teaspoon butter flavoring
Combine first three ingredients. Set aside. 
Mix together sugar, oil, and eggs until well combined. 
Stir in milk, poppyseeds, and extracts.  
Add dry ingredients stirring only until moist. 
Pour batter into two greased and floured loaf pans.
Bake at 350 for 1 hour.

3/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup orange juice
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon butter flavoring

Heat in pan over medium heat until sugar is dissolved.
Pour over HOT loaf.

Let cool before serving.