Friday, April 16, 2010
And so it begins...
I am now joining the millions of bloggers out there.
This is intended to be a blog about my interests, opinions, hobbies, and life.
If I offend anyone, well, sorry about that; I do tend to rant on occasion!
One of the first hobbies to be explored is bread baking.
In the 1960's my mother was a well known bread baker in our little town, and I have vivid memories of how she hand made the bread that we sold on the sidewalk every Saturday morning. This was done primarily because she wanted to buy a Kitchenaid mixer, which seems a little crazy to me at this point. But, she hand-kneaded a lot of bread and sold it at 50 cents a loaf to buy a mixer that would let her stop kneading bread by hand.
Before she died, my mother became a towboat cook. This was a job that brought her immense satisfaction and purpose, along with some requisite grumbling rights. It also taught her that there are lots of foods and lots of food ideas in this world.
But my Sister is an excellent baker and cook as well. Her siblings and friends all knew she was an excellent baker; it was expected, after all. For some strange reason, most everyone who knew our mother was singularly unimpressed at just how good my Sister is; I guess, because they think that she 'comes by it naturally'.
Do not let me mislead you; my Sister did not get a great deal of training from my mother. In fact, our mother was pretty good about not passing on information like that. "Here, use this much." she might say as she tossed a bare handful of ingredients to the mix. "Uh, how much was that?" we would ask, and she would smile and say, " ...a handful." My Sister learned on her own.
I will talk lots more about my Sister later, because I adore her, and she is an incredibly complex and interesting woman, but I told you all of the above just to explain some of my motivation in starting a blog.
While I can be normally be obsessive, nothing motivates crazed activity like fear. I was laid off from work last year, like so many others in the US. While I was off, I built decks, patios, a drive in parking spot for my boat, and then one day I simply ran out of purpose.
In frustration and hunger, I learned to make a lemon pie. I watched Alton Brown's excellent You-tube video several times, and biked back and forth to the local grocery stores, buying lemons and butter and lard. When I got to the point of making a dozen pies a day, and the neighbors were starting to close their blinds when they saw me coming, pie in hand, well, I guess that is when I realized that I liked making food. A lot.
Odd thing, though, was that when I made food, friends and neighbors were somehow shocked and surprised. "That is pretty amazing - for a guy." Not sure how my sister felt about that, but she never stepped on my ego. She requested pies for the holidays, gushed about my crusts, and never let on what everyone knew: She had already been there and done that. Better than I could, too.
My wife kept my ego at bay, though. Once, when I ran short a quarter cup of fresh lemon juice, I substituted bottled lemon juice in with the fresh squeezed. She bit into a slice of pie that night, spat it out, and said, "What? You are using chemical lemons now?"
So with that glimpse at my background, this first post is dedicated to three women in my life. First, my mother, for showing by example that recipes do not control cooking. Second, my Sister, for showing me that unsung heroes are heroes all the same. And to my wife, for gently but firmly keeping me honest, and for buying a "Grown-ass Man" a Kitchenaid mixer!