Friday, April 20, 2018

Cake

    Do you love a special cake?  Do you remember a special cake from your childhood?  My mom would make a cake over a pie any day.  She thought pies were too much trouble for what you got out of them.  But cake.  That was different.  On our birthdays the smell of our birthday cakes baking often was what woke us in the morning.   My brother's favorite was Boston Cream Pie (cake) and I made my very first one this Easter.  I've never eaten nor baked one before. And I'm a baker.
    Cakes are what we  contribute to a funeral or carry with us when we visit a sick friend.  Marge always offers her standard 'Funeral Cake,' a light cake filled with blueberries.  At funeral lunches I go for a piece of cake for dessert because there's nothing like a sheet cake made in someone's kitchen.
    We have our favorites, right?  I prefer chocolate/chocolate (cake/frosting), but I can remember sometimes craving yellow cake with chocolate frosting.  Never, never, never, ever, ever, ever chocolate cake with white frosting.  Poor PH.  His mother frosted their brownies with white frosting and I won't do it for him.  I tell him it's a sacrilege.   Actually, when we were kids my mom didn't frost our cupcakes because we kids didn't like the frosting much.  It was usually scraped off into the wastebasket so she just didn't bother.
   
   Julia Child said " a party without a cake is just a meeting" and she was right.  A cake carried to the table never fails to bring sighs of appreciation.  Maybe because we don't take the time to make a frosted layer cake anymore.  Maybe baking at home just isn't done anymore.
    There was the era of the bundt cake, the simple fluted hole in the middle dense cake sliced along those fluted lines.  I use the bundt pan to make a killer cream cheese pound cake that will make you cry.  Let's not forget cheesecake!  Plain cheesecake with a fruit topping?  Groan. And gingerbread cake. What would fall be without that?  Coffeecake, warm from the oven for special breakfasts or when a friend is expected to drop by. When my son was about 4 years old a friend come by and we sat and talked over pieces of a cinnamon coffee cake.  He sat there politely and finally got down from his chair and told my friend, "if you're not going to eat that I will!" and he took her piece and did eat it. Who would stop him?
    Cake is the centerpiece of a celebration. In my other life I made wedding cakes.  I sold decorated cakes. Our pictures are taken next to our cakes verifying the celebration they stand for.
    And sometimes, as in the picture above, we just have to make a cake to celebrate a peach.

Tuesday, April 17, 2018

The Sewing Machine





The Sewing Machine by Natalie Fergie



 The Sewing Machine’s story is told through the lives of four generations:  Jean, Connie, Ruth and Fred. Oh, and the sewing machine, a Singer 99K, a machine that was hand cranked with no reverse.  Beginning from Jean’s story in 1911 and the strike at the Singer factory to Fred now, we find these lives stitched together in ways these four people would, right up to the end, never imagine.  The old machine saw each become a little more personally and financially independent, contributors to their communities, it saw them through emotionally difficult times, but quietly.
     The threads on the bobbins, a secret message sent on one of the bobbins and hidden with thread, journals recording every piece stitched with the machine along with a sample of the fabric, repairs to the machine, the care each generation gave it and their dependence on it, these are all woven into the story, all making you want to pull your little Featherweight machine out and buff it up and use it for something soon.
      This story will make you wish you had kept a stitch journal of each item you sewed with your machine.  It will make you want to get your great-grandmother’s treadle fixed and learn how to use it, it will give you a special appreciation of those who have gone before us, leading their quiet lives while sitting at their machine.