Blowing Off Steam in a Messy Kitchen
Sometimes you just have to bake a cake. Right? Because it's been quite an emotional week, what with the very close election looming and the very big storm descending and Halloween/Día de los Muertos sending all sorts of shenanigans out into the world. And let's not forget to mention (in my neck of the woods at least) the Giants winning the World Series, complete with wildness in the streets and parades. Quite the roller coaster.
And that's just the wider world. In my own little life, I got to interview some big time chef heroes (gulp, stutter, swoon), caught a doozy of a cold complete with fog horn cough, and this morning I woke up to discover a spider the size of my palm calmly creeping across my duvet. So yeah, sometimes you just plant your feet on the kitchen floor, grab a mixing bowl and fill your head with nothing but a simple recipe and the sound of butter being smashed into sugar. Sometimes you just have to bake a cake.
And so I did and it was great, creaming the butter and sugar and then throwing in the egg. I went all unplugged, using an old wooden spoon and my girl power to whip that batter until it was smooth and shiny. I dumped in flour and peeled apples and greased the pan thickly with butter. I let the kitchen get all messy and dusted over with flour and apple peels and I dropped a half a jar of cinnamon on the floor but no worries! The cake finally made it into the oven and it smelled wonderful until, suddenly, it didn't and yes, in keeping with the roller coaster times I live in, I burnt that cake. But only just a little. (Actually, it has an appropriate Día de los Muertos kind of vibe.)
Still, I declare my cake making therapy a success. First, I got a little workout with the bowl and wooden spoon. Second, I got a CAKE from it all. Third, I got to MAKE that cake, as in I had a working oven and a working fridge full of ingredients and a working arm to mix it all up. Given what some folks are going through (and not just this week, of course) I'd say I had it made. What started out as a way to blow off some steam gradually settled into a quieter reflection on appreciation and staying grounded amongst all the toss and turmoil.
I put my cake on an appropriately black plate and sat there looking at it for a minute. I found myself wishing I could send that cake to any number of people and places. To the early Thanksgiving/mini-family reunion I was missing in Wisconsin. To the cold, hungry, and tired Sandy storm survivors and their relief workers. To my friends building a temple in India who were celebrating a birthday. To all the politicians and all the heroes and all the confused and troubled people just trying to find a way through.
I would say: Here. Please sit down and have a piece of cake. May it heal and comfort you. May it sweeten your tongue and remind you of what's really important. Whether you are cheering and celebrating or barely holding it together, may you know kindness and patience and may you remember that sometimes your deepest wisdom is your simple, everyday commonsense. So, here, let us lift our forks together and appreciate the tangled, messy, complicated, brilliant, wondrous business it is to occupy this planet together.
Let's just keep trying to not mess it up too much, OK?
Quote: "Whether we and our politicians know it or not, Nature is party to all our deals and decisions, and she has more votes, a longer memory, and a sterner sense of justice than we do." - Wendell Berry
Cake recipe: This one, only with apples not plums
How to help: Occupy Sandy
Synchronicity: Tara was also baking an apple cake (hers has frosting!)
(Images: Dana Velden)