Sunday, August 28, 2011

Channelling Auntie Bernice

This is *supposed* to be the last day of summer vacation. Irene had other ideas. We were lucky that we didn't loose power and our basement only got a little "seepy" - just enough to motivate the final round of transferring all stored items into plastic containers. We're about 75% done with that project. We usually wait until plastic goes on sale and buy as many big ones as we can afford.

Our experience with Irene was a category, "no harm, no foul."

Except for the amazing amount of energy the barometer sapped out of my body, I got some things done. By the time the wind calmed down a bit, I took Buddy out for a little walk. I wanted to grab a picture of the Monocacy Creek by Illick's Mill road.

The water was rushing pretty fast. I was surprised to see two police cars parked at the road blocking any would be drivers or pedestrians from venturing into the park. From what I could see from the road, there were a couple of trees down. Still, I wished I could go in further to see the mighty water rush down the WPA project. This park is one of my favorite places in Bethlehem. I hope the storm didn't cause too much damage.

By the time Buddy and I got home, the kids and Steve were into the last episodes of the cartoon, Avatar. So much for them practicing, or trying to do any brain games to get them psyched for school. Steve didn't sleep well last night. Guess he was getting up every time the wind blew a branch against the house.

I had a little sleepiness myself. I conked out not long after I took the dog off his leash. When I woke, I didn't want to waste another day, so I decided to channel my Auntie Bernice.

Auntie Bernice was the closest sibling in age to my dad. She was an amazing cook - even before being a "foodie" was in style. She was an early devote of Julia Child; bought all the kitchen tools she need to make amazing dishes. Food was her gift for any big occasion. Her kitchen was tiny, and her budget was small. Yet she believed in using the right ingredients. "Never use margarine - always butter. If you're worried about your weight, don't eat as much." For my wedding (and for both my sisters' weddings) she made 14 different flavors of cheese cake. To this day, the cheese cake is what people remember about my wedding. My big Christmas dinners are inspired by her. I believe I'll be making more homemade candy this year. The toffee I made last year was a hit. This year, I'll add fudge and chocolate covered roasted Brazil nuts. Just like Bernice, I'll shell, roast and dip them all myself.

Auntie Bernice did everything from scratch. Bread was made every day. There was no such thing as cake mix or store bought dough. She often went to the grocery store at 4am to get fresher eggs. Her food was fabulous. What I loved most was her humble service. None of her plates matched. She set a glorious table with the stuff we put into our bodies. The table scape was a utility; not a fashion. She also sang loudly in church, and had one of the most amazing laughs; and it was genuine.

Every fall, whether we have a bounty or not, I sauce tomatoes in her honor. My mom had given me an attachment for my kitchen aid that makes saucing a snap. It is a shallow mesh bowl that fits into the large mixing bowl. The wooden scraper moved around blanched tomatoes to release all the nice flesh and juice from the skin and seeds. I also attach the plastic splash guard on top - because I slam a bunch of tomatoes in there - LOVE when cooking gets a little crazy messy.

The amount of sauce let by tonight's gathering netted two bowls. It's reducing on the stove top now. That smell is mixing with the lingering banana bread I baked earlier today to have fast breakfasts ready for the kids to grab on their way to the bus stop.

Instead of tomorrow being the first day of school I'd hoped for - it's another day of juggling the kids and work. That's OK - we'll have fresh banana bread and garden fresh tomato sauce for some wicked dinners. All is well.

#73 of 90in90 for #LUBlogTribe

PS - Yes, Banana bread will be available at the office this week.

1 comment:

  1. copied note from my sister - who posted on Facebook:

    "Loved the Auntie Bernice post! I remember Uncle Jimmy taking a couple of doors off their hinges and setting them up on saw horses so there would be enough room for everyone at the table; her chocolate cheesecake recipe starting with "make chocolate cookies" to be crumbled for the crust; her tasting my fudge and saying, "you made this yesterday when it was raining, right?""