Saturday, October 17, 2020

the final four days of my 30s

 it's hard to believe that it's finally here -- the last few days of my current decade. 

This week, as you know, I received the delivery of the birthday present I got for myself: a candy apple red Kitchen Aid stand mixer, with an ice cream maker attachment and a pasta roller attachment. When I moved to Scotland 3.5 years ago, I couldn't bring my Kitchen Aid with me, because the electrical situation is different, so I sent it to my aunt -- but I kept the attachments. My former KitchenAid and its attachments had been my mother's.

Unpacking those attachments, the very last things to be unpacked from my move, 2.5 years after they arrived in this house, was so beautiful.

Having said that, during these last few years of my 30s, when I was sans mixer, I learned how to make lots of my favourite things by hand. I never would have thought I would make bagels by hand, because the dough is so stiff, but I do. I never would have thought I'd be hand-whipping cream, or making pasta, or any number of other things, without a stand mixer. 

Of course, one day I stood in the kitchen pining for bagels, and therefore a KitchenAid, and realised that obviously bagels used to be made without a mixer. Clearly people have been making bread, and whipped cream, and all sorts of things by hand for generations. And so I took out my mom's bagel recipe and just...figured it out. And they were delicious. 

In the kitchen I often feel connected to my mother -- it used to be because I used her things, but now, here, when I do not have her things anymore, sometimes it is because I use her recipes. Or perhaps, more accurately, because I carry on her tenuous relationship to the recipe. How fitting, then, that I should have learned in this decade to adapt them further to do it by hand.

I have put a lot of muscle into stirring and kneading these past few years, and I actually wonder, now that I have the mixer, if I will still knead by hand, because I like it. And maybe I will. But it'll be nice to get the hard mixing-in-all-the-flour part done first! Even though I now have a danish whisk (best hand tool for the kitchen that was ever invented), and I love it, there's something to be said for just standing back and pouring the flour through the spout and letting magic happen.

All of that to is possible to make many of my old favourites without the equipment. But I'm still pretty excited to enter my next decade with the equipment anyway!

Today's poem is "When I am in the kitchen" by Jeanne Marie Beaumont, and it ends with this:

Oh the past is too much with me in the kitchen,
where I open the vintage metal recipe box,
robin's egg blue in its interior, to uncover
the card for Waffles, writ in my father's hand
reaching out from the grave to guide me
from the beginning, "sift and mix dry ingredients"
with his note that this makes "3 waffles in our
large pan" and around that our an unbearable
round stain—of egg yolk or melted butter?—
that once defined a world.

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