Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Flour on my Face

and all the years you have lived. Helen Keller

When I was growing up, I used to watch my grandmother make homemade chicken and noodles, bread, and other goodies. My earliest memory was when I could barely see over the table. Sometimes when she wasn't looking I would snatch a small piece of egg noodle from the mass as they were drying on the table. I remember when I was in Jr. High I asked her for her dinner roll recipe. She just looked at me like I'd just asked to her fly to the moon. "Child, I don't have it written down. I just take a handful or two of flour, a pinch of salt, some ..." I watched in wonder. She wrote it down approximately what she thought. I've never had the nerve to use her recipe yet. Both of my grandmothers were excellent cooks. My grandmother Wilson would get distracted and forget to take the pie out until it was almost burnt. "Lauwdy! My pie's a burnin! Run and open the doors!" she would say. I can relate to that! My most precious memories of them took place in the kitchen. If you were to visit my kitchen today, you would see the apron she wore most sitting on a shelf and some of her tools (egg beater, grater, meat tenderizer, etc.) scattered around. I guess something I aspired to do when I was younger, was to be a good cook. I've come a long way from when we were first married, but I'm always on the prowl for something new or maybe improved on what recipe I have. My poor husband just moans: "Can't you just fix it like you did last time? Can't you just write it down or use the recipe written?" I love to cook and more importantly I want my children to know how to cook and bake. I love to "wow" my kids and encourage my kids to try cooking. I've had all my kids in the kitchen with me at different time helping me cook and the older two can successfully prepare meal by themselves. The youngest love to help me make hamburger buns or pizza dough. I must say I love cooking and baking. I used to have a bread machine - back in the 90's (the late 1990s not the 1890s!), but found I loved getting my hands in the dough, feeling the texture change and the smoothness evolve as I knead the dough. I love the smell of the bread or dish as it permeates through the house and sometimes you can even smell it outside if the windows are open. A few months ago, a friend from church gave me her bread machine to use and I used it once before giving it back. I missed the feel of the bread while I kneaded. I felt cheated by letting the machine do it for me. A few months ago I had to laugh when I made chicken tortellini dish and bought the tortellini instead of making it from scratch. My youngest decided (before he tried it) that he didn't like it because it wasn't from scratch! O Bother! Next time I'll just throw flour on my face and hide the package! Maybe I should have scattered a few chicken feathers around the kitchen and let them think I killed the chicken as well! I remember when we were first married I would call my mom in Kansas or Dave's mom for a recipe and just hope that I could make it taste somewhere close to theirs. I remember spending an hour or so copying their recipes when we would visit. I don't use their recipes much now, but have filed them for safe keeping. Something that I started doing for my children a few years ago was to record my children and family's favorite recipes in a Word document on my computer. It has grown steadily through the years and from time to time the kids will ask: "Mom, this is great! Are you going to put it in our Recipe Book?" Someday, in the not so distant future, I'll have to print that book and give it to them as they leave the house. Who then will I cook for? Who then will I "wow" and experiment on? Not my meat and potato hubby! No, I guess we'll have to start inviting people over for dinner. Okay, now before you think I'm a Martha Stewart or Betty Homemaker, I don't cook full course meals everyday, nor do I know how to decorate. My home will never grace any part of a decorating magazine nor will my cooking secure a spot on Food Network. If you come to my house be prepared for a not so spotless floor, dust on the shelf, and flour on my face.

If you come to see us, come any time, if you come to see my house, please make an appointment! When baking, follow directions. When cooking, go by your own taste. ~Laiko Bahrs

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