Thursday, June 24, 2010

Kitchen Chemistry

One of Colin's favorite things is to help me cook. His father made him a set of lightweight steps that he can drag around to different countertops and step up to help stir, dump, and smell whatever it is that I am making that day.
He is not crazy about kneading bread, he loves dumping pre-measured ingredients, adores shaking spices into a pot, is meh about naming ingredients when I show them to him but loves to smell them.
He will suggest dishes to make, although his requests usually run to the sweet side. And lights up when I tell him to get his stairs and come into the kitchen to help me.
My parents cooked with us in the kitchen, so did my grandparents. When I talk about my love of all things culinary I refer to myself as a "family taught" chef. I don't have any fancy knife skills and my idea of measuring is shaking out some spices into my palm and tasting a lot. Many of my childhood memories center around the kitchen, my father leaning against the sink with a glass of wine in his hand, my aunt slapping a thinly rolled circle of dough onto the comal to make a tortilla, my mother slicing up fresh fruit for us every single morning, Tamale Day every December when the house was filled with the sharp, heady, sour spicy scent of red chile.
Food is not just fuel to me, it is a process, a blessing, a story told in cinnamon and garlic, in roast chicken and bread and butter. The movement of making dinner, breakfast, lunch, is, to me, an intricate part of what makes me who I am.
When I bring my son into the kitchen with me I am passing on this cultural memory, this kitchen dance. I don't always make the same foods I grew up with (I don't think I have ever left pinto beans on the stove all day to simmer in a rich bacon-y, bay leaf studded broth) and I am not always particularly graceful in the kitchen. But I hope to pass onto my son the love of the process of making a meal. The love of bringing people together to enjoy food that you have made with your own hands, to find a sense of self in the food that you create.
It gets a little deep up in here sometimes.

Friday, June 18, 2010

June 18th, 2010

Shine on, O moon of summer.
Shine to the leaves of grass, catalpa and oak,
All silver under your rain to-night.

An Italian boy is sending songs to you to-night from an accordion.
A Polish boy is out with his best girl; they marry next month;
to-night they are throwing you kisses.

An old man next door is dreaming over a sheen that sits in a
cherry tree in his back yard.

The clocks say I must go—I stay here sitting on the back porch drinking
white thoughts you rain down.

Shine on, O moon,
Shake out more and more silver changes.

Back Yard by Carl Sandburg

photo taken July 2009, Colin Jacob

Summertime and the livin' is easy...

So first click this link and play the song that you will find will give you a little summertime feeling.

100 degrees has descended upon us. I don't mind the heat, I quite enjoy a little baking actually, being a native and all, and I am trying to pass on this love of the sun to my son (not without first slathering him in sunscreen of course!).
We spend lazy afternoons eating popsicles while running through the sprinkler.
We lay on the bed, with it's white expanse of comforter, in the dark bedroom and tell stories to each other.
We don't venture out of the house unless we are absolutely losing our minds with boredom.
We have found the coolest spots on the floor and gently shove Kira out of the way to enjoy the smooth cool tile.
We have all figured out how to float on our backs in the pool at the YMCA, thick with chlorine and heated to our body temperature. We gleefully anticipate getting out, dripping and exhausted, so we can shiver a little bit in the hot breeze.
We spend very little time in the kitchen, fresh baked bread is a distant memory.
We are forever concocting new experiments with ice cream and milk and ice and strawberries and cinnamon and honey and mangos and anything else sweet and cool we can get our hands on.
We will park a few more yards away if it means getting a spot in the shade.

We relish the thought of slowly melting into little puddles of family and dog, popsicle and chlorine and ice water. We look forward to a few months.

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