Saturday, August 27, 2016

It was a double layer yellow cake that I'm pretty sure I overbaked

Sometimes (maybe often times) I feel as though I've grown old way before my time. Or I'm actually much older then I allow myself to realize. Possibly I was born in the wrong era, or maybe I'm just crazy? I truly love doing things the more difficult way, taking the longer route, the opposite of saving time. In my kitchen I have the most basic utensils. I don't have a food processor or a stand mixer. I don't have a bread maker or a coffee maker (I use a coffee press) or even a microwave. And I practically adore baking and cooking from scratch. I love the feel of fresh dough in my hands. I'm giddy at watching a few basic ingredients come together to make something spectacular. There's a sense of accomplishment so great when pulling a hot dish from the oven, knowing exactly what went into every component, realizing how much time and how many steps that I personally poured into it, and then getting to enjoy the final product, flaws and all.

Little Abe and I were reading books the other day. We came across one we've read many, MANY times because we've had it all his life and it's a really simple book, easily keeps the attention of babies and toddlers. It's called "It's My Birthday" (Helen Oxenbury). A little boy discretely asks all of his animal friends to bake a cake with him for his birthday and in the end they all eat it together. The last page of the book has a recipe for a birthday cake. Little Abe didn't even realize the recipe was there. But as we finished the book I showed him the recipe and asked if he wanted to bake a cake.

He's been baking with me since he was little. Just recently I've been letting him crack eggs all by himself. And instead of me filling each measuring cup and him getting to dump the ingredients in he's been able to fill the cups on his own. He's yet to make a cake "all by himself" thus he was thrilled at the suggestion. He did all of the scooping, dumping, pouring, and egg cracking by himself. He did some of the mixing and a lot of tasting. Then we waited.

It was a double layer yellow cake that I'm pretty sure I over baked. It was quite dense, quite dry, and we frosted it with a minuscule amount of glaze on top of each layer (basically it didn't have frosting). I was certain that he wouldn't like it. We paired it with ice cream (that's why I didn't frost it) and he scarfed it down. He said it was delicious and he seemed thrilled. I'm not under any delusions that he loves dense dry cake but he made it on his own. It was a work of his own hands and there is truly something delicious about that. I honestly believe that life is so much more vibrant when it's our own hands that have shaped it.

The other day a close friend and I were talking along these lines (although in no way about baking). Life is filled with heartache and hardship. Sometimes the most basic aspects of our lives are just crap, whether it's a hard patch in parenting, a bad sickness, or a crap time at work, a co-worker (or boss) you absolutely hate, or a patch in your marriage where you're not sure you even recognize your spouse let alone like them. We're living in a society that preaches happiness and comfort. I'm all for being happy but the truth is that a lot of things in life are going to be very hard and not happy and we can't get away from that. Trying to always get away would be like spending your entire life running away from home. I think more often then not we just need to dig in and power through. But it's the little things that make the crap bearable, like pulling a home made decadent (not dry) chocolate cake out of the oven and slathering it with rich chocolate mousse. Or going for an adventure around the block with your four year old. Little things like watching sunsets and letting yourself really enjoy how beautiful they are or realizing that it's the long wispy grass along the roads time of year and then smiling the entire ride home from work as you gaze at the overgrowth dancing in the wind.

Baking from scratch, taking the long route, and enduring a hard patch in something that's truly meaningful to you can seem like the crazy thing but as long as there's light along the path, bits of intense joy that you wouldn't have known if you weren't on that path to begin with, and you stop to notice all the roses among the thorns then I dare say you're just as crazy as I am and that you're really living life. Seeing my kiddo enjoying the fruits of his labor, I dare say, that will never get old!

10 comments:

  1. Rivulet-You array one of the wisest souls of any age. Thankyou for sharing your lovely experience with little Abe. It truly is three little things that make life special and unique including the trials and tribulations. The Happy Path is filled with detours-success is finding your way back on it.

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    1. What an incredible compliment thank-you!
      I'm afraid too much of life is spent looking for the huge success or the intense joy or anything wild and exuberant and meanwhile so much of the little beauties, so much of the wonderful journey itself is lost. Who would have thought that stopping to smell the roses takes effort but it really truly does.

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  2. What a great thing to do with your son!

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    1. Thank-you, we LOVE to bake and cook together. Well, thus far in his four years of life we love to do most things together (except for chores).

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  3. People are trying all the time to escape. When I first divorced, I met other women who were divorced. All they wanted to do was escape through going out on weekends, watching soap operas, or chain smoking. I was not into that, so I just stuck with what I always did. Then and moreso now, fast, loud, or away from home is how many people
    escape. The weeds along the road would be more interesting to me. You are brave to let him bake. I tried that with my son, but it was a disaster, plus the littler one wanted to do it at the same time! You let him eat raw eggs? I thought I was the only mother who did that!

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    1. I've never been much for the escaping lifestyle, except for once in my youth when I drove to Tennessee for a weekend without telling anyone just to sit in a hotel far from my life and my thoughts and be all alone. I wasn't able to leave my thoughts behind but that is really the only form of escaping I've ever much tried.

      I know, raw eggs! SO wrong now a days! But, I've failed as a good mom. I let him eat dough or batter with raw eggs in it all the time. Did you know we're not to eat raw flour anymore either? I just noticed the warning on the package a few months ago. I googled it and apparently they've decided that raw flour now may contain a bacteria that can make you sick so none of that either. So much so that flour companies are having to put a warning on their bags. Look at me, two no no's in one!

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  4. Wow, what a beautiful post. It really hit home for me. I've been struggling a lot lately and I need to realize that there are a lot of really good (sometimes small) things in my life and cherish them. Just because things are hard doesn't mean I can't find beauty that around me.
    M'Shell

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    1. Thank-you. I hope you are able to find many many really lovely things in your life, beauty that causes you to life your head with a radiant smile that helps you to feel all warm inside. It honestly takes effort to see these things a lot of the time, especially if you're really going through a hard patch, but gratitude and realization are quite magical.

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  5. While reading this I was looking forward to hitting the 'Like' button at the end of the post! Beautifully written

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    1. Like on facebook right :) Thank-you!
      It's funny we watch cable with a DVR so we're able to rewind and fast forward (I know, pretty much everyone watches TV through some sort of streaming now, right?)
      Well sometimes I'll be listening to news radio in the car and I don't quite hear something and I feel for a second that I ought to grab the remote and rewind it. Oh, nope, can't do that with live radio, huh. Sill, I feel the inclination a lot.

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