Monday, September 17, 2012

bulking up for winter: the weekend’s food in review

the end of last week into the weekend brought the breathe of fresh air i’ve been longing for. the snap in the air prompting the need for a sweatshirt on our morning outings prove that fall is just around the corner.
it’s coming.

i feel like i come alive with the change of summer into fall. i wake from a heat-induced coma and the first place i head is the kitchen.
a summer of stovetop, crockpot and cold meals has me yearning for the pop of my oven knob. 350 degrees beckoning and welcoming me like an old friend.

my first foray was a sorely missed family tradition: homemade bread. jeremy and i don’t go crazy with organics and natural foods. with seven mouths to feed on a single income quite honestly we can’t afford to. but we do, however, believe in homemade and simple. less is more—i.e., less preservatives, less chemicals, less –orbitals and –uctoses and –uloses. to that end we went a solid 2 years without really buying bread from the store. i made three loaves a week for our dinners and lunches. but with my last pregnancy and, well…all that…the homemade bread took a backseat to the business of simply surviving.

finding our new normal as a larger family required some things to be paused for a bit, and the two piping hot loaves i pulled from the oven on friday signified, for us, a return.

one loaf was gone in minutes—all 7 of us gathered around the counter dancing slices a bit too hot for the fingers back and forth while butter melted and dripped down our chins but it was so SO good we blew and chewed and breathed heavy to try and cool it even though it was already in our mouths.

saturday night brought mac and cheese enjoyed outdoors, followed by marshmallow roasting and the sounds of frank sinatra on pandora. then opa stopped by to sip a glass of wine and change the station to harry chapin…provoking laughter and stories of his youth and how he was thisclose to joining the marines during the vietnam war and how different would our lives have been then?

meanwhile i ran back and forth to the kitchen, checking the challah bread i had stuffed with cinnamon, raisins and brown sugar for sunday morning. strange how it didn’t quite look the same as smitten kitchen’s version…more like an unfortunate intestinal disorder.

thanks for that visual, dear.

but it was delicious all the same--another loaf gone this morning.

we round out the weekend with a pumpkin butter cake—hello. what more information do you need beyond those three words: pumpkin. butter. cake. yessssss. harrison’s request for a pumpkin dessert to take to mom-mom and pop’s house sunday night sends me on an internet search. a rewarding internet search.

it’s a curse and a gift: my talents lie in potatoes and mac and cheese and to a lesser extent with baking, but even there we have enough unqualified successes to encourage my continued experimentation.

and saturday night we sat around the fire and gigi made us all “sandwiches” of graham crackers and burnt marshmallows, smiling ear to ear as we raved and praised her skills. and i laughed to jeremy how did our children learn to equate showing love to someone=cooking for them?

but we know how.

because twice this week guinevere, done her cyber schooling for the week, has wandered into the kitchen and created chocolatey peanut-buttery deliciousness and texts me “we need more chocolate chips” when i’m out at the store.

and because so many mornings this summer my children as a group presented me with breakfast in bed—a rubbermaid bin lid serving as the tray for my microwaved eggs and toast with peanut butter and coffee with what tasted like 7 sugars.

because we teach by example.

because i have my parent’s example and my parent’s genes—the ones that love a full house and good food and laughter and noise and pots of sauce and pounds of spaghetti and that’s just how it’s done.

and because in turn we make giant vats of soup and deliver them to all our sick friends when a vicious cold takes them down by the dozen. and 8 months later they (my children) are still talking about it.

so yes, in our house cooking=love.

and jeremy and i say only half-jokingly that we were born in the wrong century. truly one where my rubinesque figure** and our prolific child creating abilities would have been more esteemed would have suited us much better.
but we are here in 2012, headed so soon into 2013 (how did that happen???) eating and feeding our way into a happy house full of memories—both those already made, and those to come.

come on fall. i’m ready for ya.

**(insert crudely photoshopped image of my head on an appropriate painting. which i briefly considered for laughs and quickly dismissed because i’ll spare you that mental image)

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