Monday, February 18, 2013

Nothing says lovin' like something from the oven? Or something like that.

So, after years of neglect, I decided to dust off the old blog for old times sake, rework the atrophied writing muscles, and attempt to reflect and write again.  This old thing?  Yeah.  I know.  But there is within the husk of the old the seeds of the new, and as corny as that sounds (and as bad a metaphor as it may be, here I go with it):  I want to plant it and see where it goes...grows? ;)

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Ahem.

So, where does 2013 find me?  Currently we are without a stove, a condition I haven't lived with since I was a college student living in a dorm.  Even then, the first floor lobby had an old model, good enough for batches of cookies that I handed out freely to anyone walking by.  I remember the dark smokiness of its interior, a beat up, unclean electric oven of questionable origin, on its last leg or heating element at the very least, and blackened with the remnants of countless frozen pizzas and leftovers gone wrong.  Still, I would take my little electric hand mixer and Pyrex bowls and get to it:  baking chocolate chip cookies was a necessity for me.

 Then, and now, it isn't so much about the cookies themselves (though, as I told a friend the other day, I only eat about 8-12 cookies while baking, which sounded perfectly normal in my head but turned out to sound overindulgent out loud) as it is the process, the tastes of dough, the satisfaction of watching disparate ingredients go from individual to delectably whole: when my life feels out of control, when I am overwhelmed or stressed, the physical act of baking grounds me, reconnects me to something simple, direct, true: Baking is my therapy, and the lack of an oven is no small thing.

I first began my love affair with baking, cookies, specifically, when I was around 4th or 5th grade and joined 4-H.  Seemingly antiquated by today's standards of after school activities--at least in my kids' eyes, that is--my experiences in 4-H had a profound influence on my skills in the kitchen and taught me the science behind cooking long before I had ever heard of Alton Brown.  By high school, I comforted myself with cookies--bad day?  Time to make cookies.  I comforted others with cookies--baking umpteen batches to deliver to a nursing home.  In fact, my wedding had a cookie table, heavily laden with cookies baked by friends, family, and me. At work, I bring rubbermaid containers of cookies for the workroom. Fast forward to recently:  I overheard my son confidentially telling his friend as they played Minecraft: "My mom will make something sweet because you're here.  She always does when I have  friend over."  And he's right.
I show love with food, specifically baked goods.

So, when my oven crapped out less than a week before my husband's birthday and I couldn't make his cake, it felt wrong.  Not to him--he obliges me by eating my baked goods, but they don't hold the emotional significance, the power of being comfort and love wrapped up in homemade yumminess.  My sister saved the day--she baked a delectable cheesecake, creamy and rich and delivered mid snow storm.  I was grateful, but missed the process that I have come to associate with birthdays, with surprises, with you-just-got-off-the-bus-and-guess-what-mom-made:  the ritual, the making.  The baking.

Love.

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So, in a few weeks when my shiny new all equipped convection oven arrives in all its unmarred glory, I will make my man a cake. Whether he likes it or not.

--

Amber



4 comments:

Kelli S said...

Love it! I am new to this, didn't even have an old one to dust off but I am loving it a ton. So glad to have a "blogging buddy"

a. said...

Thanks, Kelli! It feels good to write again. :)

Lorriann said...

Great to read your blog again!

MAC said...

Good to see you writing again.