Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Sunday Scribbles - In the Kitchen

I looked at this prompts for days and felt a blank. I do not have a good relationship with kitchens. I'm not much of a cook, baking is a horror show, and even the in-progress conversion of stained cabinets to faux is stalled with great regularity.

It surprises me sometimes, my lack of interest in kitchen arts. My sister loves to cook. My brother makes PIES, for heaven's sake. Me? I missed that particular gene when it was being handed out. I've often wondered why that was. I have a legacy of cooking and baking in my background. Mom was brilliant. She baked, create magic out of nothing and always set a good table. She even had the whole shopping thing figured out. Shop? My trips to the store are daily to decide what will be for dinner this night. Oh, and don't even get me started on my freezer. You know that old Las Vegas saying about what happens, stays? Well, when my freezer happens to a piece of meat, it stays. Thank God for the defrost option on microwaves. In fact, thank God for microwaves.

My dad's parents were both bakers and my mom's dad owned a restaurant so I really don't get it. I never knew my mom's parents but I have enduring kitchen memories from my dad's folks. The big bungalow house on Thayer St. in Rhinelander, WI actually holds a lot of memories for me but today the focus is the kitchen.

Gram and Gramp's kitchen was a huge space. It was completely open in the middle with cabinets, counters, appliances and windows circling the space. In the far corner a door opened to stairs equipped with over-the-head pantry storage space. The stairs lead down to the cellar complete with a coal schute, a classic monster-in-the-furnace furnace, and endless shelves filled with gramma's canned goods. But it was the upper space that held the sweetest memories.

I close my eyes and I can picture their huge metal flour bin rolling open, his metal flour scoop dipping in and filling the mixing bowl. Grampa would pull and push and kneed the dough to perfection, let it rise, do it again, let it rise again and ultimately make the most exquisite bread. After the bread was out, I would wait patiently while it cooled enough to slice and then he would present me with the heel of the warm bread all drenched and dripping with butter.

As a baking and kitchen story memory, it could all stop here and it would be perfection, but my gramps was also a wizard at making donuts and not just any donuts. You haven't had donuts until you enjoy them deep fried - golden crisp on the outside and pillowy soft on the inside. I trace my love for plain donuts to this memory. Present me with a plate of amazing fancy donuts and I will always reach for the unglazed old fashions and the buttermilk bars AND the donut holes. The last thing grandpa would always do it finish up by dropping the center of the cut dough into the vat of superheated cooking oil. To this day I will always think of hot donuts and holes left to set and release the excess oil into the brown paper bags he would lay out on the counter. And as a final flourish, he would sprinkle a few with confectionery sugar. But to this day, it is the plain ones with their luscious aroma and crisp texture that live in my memory.

14 comments:

trailbee said...

I remember making donuts on Shrove Tuesday every year, because it was the evening before the start of Lent. They were the good kind, made with yeast, and cooked in whatever was at hand, and finally shaken in a brown paper bag full of sugar. WI is near Germany, right?

Susie said...

I've never made donuts, but I'd have to say that the kitchen is my favorite place. I just love to cook, bake and entertain! I truly envy your artistic talents!!
:)

LisaOceandreamer said...

I didn't get the kitchen gene either.....I can decorate them, lay a lovely table, do dishes....but the actual cooking part it goes down hill. I come from a line of major cooks (Italian women) and my mom would often want to show me how to make something, I wasn't interested.(I preferred drawing)
XOXO

Autrice DelDrago said...

Annie, you made me HUNGRY! Gee thanks; I swore that I would not eat any donuts during lent.

Haha.

Tammy said...

Those doughnuts looked soooo good! Don't worry about the cooking gene because you have been blessed by many other great genes :) I know because I've met you!

Love the music! XXOO

Star said...

Donuts...mmmmmm. My mother tried making donuts a few times and we decided it wasn't something we should make often because they were being consumed at an alarming rate (which we the women in the family didn't need).

I bake fairly well and I can cook but don't enjoy it. When I look back (hopefully after many years to come yet) I don't think I'll regret not making huge, complicated meals for family gatherings. I would miss food quickly prepared (or, forbid, purchased!) that allowed us to spend more time talking and laughing and playing.

Thank you for sharing your family donut memories, Annie.

paris parfait said...

Ooh, reading this delicious post makes my mouth water for homemade bread and doughnuts! Yummy! xo

Beth said...

And don't ya know that I can't eat bread right now,,lol. Looks so yummy! I am not much of a cook either, I do it but just not a gourmet chef,lol. Hope your having a great week Annie!

diana said...

me too... my mouth is watering. My grandma made mouth watering pies.mmmmmm good . xoxo

Becca said...

Oh my gosh, I am so hungry for homemade goodies right now! My mom never makes doughnuts, but my grandmother did. And I had a high school friend who's mother used to make them for us as an after school treat. Mmmmmm, good!

I think you have some pretty good kitchen tales to tell after all :)

turquoise cro said...

mmmMMMMM! Thanks! Annie! Do-nuts are my weakness!!!! and I'm trying to diet!!! tee hee My father-in-law who has passed away used to make the BEST!!! frittis in all the world and he fried chicken too to a delicacy!!! I always try and make some yummy Easter bread! Wish me luck! xoCinda

lila said...

My German grandmother would sometimes make raised donuts for us and fry them in a large cast iron dutch oven on top of her stove!

I am LOVING the music on your blog!

Deb L said...

My gosh Annie, this brings back memories I haven't thought about in years... whenever we traveled to visit my grandparents, we were literally met at the door by my Nana and Aunt Mary, who gave each of us a small brown paper bag filled with fresh homemade donuts with powdered sugar. She made the donuts from mashed potatoes! Oh what a lovely memory ~ thanks for the nudge :0) XOXO Deb

Britt-Arnhild said...

Your photos makes my mouth watering :-)