Saturday, October 15, 2011

Pound This Winter! or Prelude to Pound Cake

While the rest of the world, sports fans that is, were preparing for Superbowl, I was planning a 5-day vacation holiday at Moms. I can see Cowboy Stadium from my office and the last place I want to be during "Superbowl Week" is in Arlington, Texas. I called Mom and said make a list of all the antique shops you want to go to and pack a bag for a side trip to Hillsboro. I've been telling her about Mimi's and Papa's and now we can add a lunch stop, just a block off the courthouse square, and enjoy some home cooking while we are out treasure hunting.

So off I go to Moms singing zippity-do-da all the way. It's always great to lose myself at Moms house. She cooks, we eat, she cooks, we eat, shop, eat; watch old movies and then dessert. I think we can literally drink coffee all day long, ah life is good.
My bedroom is exactly as I left it last trip except for a new bedspread. Mom put Grandma Blankenship’s cross-stitched bedspread (us kids had quilted for her last Mother's Day) on my bed. Just beautiful, like it was meant to be there. Knowing the work Grandma put into the quilt makes me smile and proud at the same time. It was the last project she cross-stitched before passing.  But, no time to reminisce now, we are on a mission.

The highlight of our evening is going to the new Kroger Marketplace about 15 miles out. We wait for my sister-in-law Gail to pick us up then I get to hear all about the new store on the way. Mom thinks I'm going to starve to death because as she puts it, "I never know what to cook for you." Do I look like I've ever missed a meal? I’m not a picky eater, just remove the flesh (that word makes meat sound disgusting, but makes me feel better about not eating it) from my plate and I’m good. How hard is that?

Mom’s new Kroger is like a grocery store on steroids. A little bit of something for everyone. Little did I know I could go to the store for food and wind up buying a sofa and a new diamond ring? Strange, but somehow it works. We stock up on supplies then make the trip back to Moms. We eat until we're miserable (but justify it) because tomorrow we have a huge day of shopping that will surely test our strength, and its cold out so we need the extra blubber to snub winters bite.

Winter has a strange way of slapping you in the face when it’s not getting the attention it deserves. While we slumber it sneaks in and covers the world (as we know) with ice and snow. Winter's rage screams, “Who do you think you are to presume I will give you nice weather so you can traipse across the country looking for treasures? Don’t you know who I am? Did you consider my plans, my desires, and my needs? Your disrespect has gotten you grounded, shut in, trapped….Hahaha, you may be a princess, BUT I AM QUEEN!” I have one word…..Bitch!

In the morning we are definately surprised. The snow is beautiful and the ice treacherous. The pasture is covered in a blanket of white velvet, puffy clouds of snow. The thought of being shut in for days hasn’t hit us yet. Wrapped in wooly PJ’s drinking hot coffee, we are not afraid of winters wrath. We talk about our plans when the ice clears but that soon turns to, how long will this last? No worries, we have plenty of food and Mom has a gas stove that keeps the whole house warm and cozy.

So, what do two girls do when their plans are shot to hell and they are snowed in for five days? This ain’t no movie show; Jack Nicholson won’t be showing up from the Shining like some crazy psycho hatchet man. I’m not even gonna go there. No, actually we start to wonder where and when we lost the basics. If I was starving do I know how to find food, shoot a rabbit, crochet table linens, make clothes by hand, dig for roots, and sterilize water? How could I be so unprepared and what have I taught my own children about survival? All I can say is it just never came up in dinner conversation:

“Andrea, did you practice ripping chicken heads off today?”

“Marcey, this butter is delicious; did you churn extra cream into it?”

“Keith, excellent skins, I think I can make a coat out of these.”

“Brad, the hand pump on the water well is broke; do you think you can fix it?”

“Honey, the kids are hungry, I’ve got you some dry biscuits for the hunt today, and I’ll have the wood chopped when you get back.”

“Ma, where’s the sugar you’ve been storing for that special occasion?”

You guessed it, Mom and I start surfing and brainstorming about what if the Mayan calendar is true and 2012 does happen. If it’s the latter we don’t have much time to plan….hum, we need a smoke house, a chicken coop, a root cellar, hand crank grain mill, peddle sewing machine, large green house (with gas heat), water well with hand pump, lots of homemade canned goods, yes that should just about do it, oh and Mom, we might have to slaughter a longhorn if we get desperate. That’s right, we spent the next four days, researching how to build a smoke house, chicken coop, root cellar….you get the idea.

We find us a smoke house and lots of recipes, which means we need storage for dried herbs and spices, do we start planting now, or order them in bulk? How long will they last? More research. When we get to the chicken coop our imaginations went wild, after all you can have the Kia Coop or the Cadillac Coop. We are going for the Cadillac Coop with all the bells and whistles and it’s on wheels so we can spread the coop poop love around. EBay has all kinds of manual grain mills for sale. After Mom and I watch a few how to videos, I have to say it looks like a lot of hard work and I have a new appreciation for my electric one.

We wake on day three and nothing has changed, in fact I think there is a new layer of snow on the ground. Excited about our new survival tactics we move our attention to green houses, seeds, canning and storage. Mom and I pick out a huge green house that will look beautiful on the east side of her house, browse all varieties of seeds, and learn how to harvest them for the next planting season. Of course we are snacking and eating all day long, trying out new ideas for foods and sweets. Chocolate is a staple survival food right? We experiment in the kitchen making muffins, breads and spreads with the groceries we bought. I think this storm could go on for a month and Mom would not run out of food, her refrigerator is still packed and we have eaten non-stop.

Day four looks like things may be calming down a bit, the ice is too thick to drive on, but the storm has given up. Thankful we didn’t freeze to death, we decide to spend the day going through all my grandmothers’ old recipes. Mom said Grandma Blankenship always made the best pound cake, but she never shared the recipe with anyone; in fact she lost her recipe once and spent decades trying to replicate it. We decided to go through every box and find all the pound cake recipes to see if we could narrow down which recipe was “the one”. All together we find about a zillion pound cake recipes. Some were marked in books, but most are hand written on notebook paper, cards, electric bills and scratch paper. Mom looks over each and just can’t put her finger on which one she always heard grandma talking about. So, our mission is to round up all the recipes and test them. However, we can’t do this alone, so I’m putting the challenge out there to all my Lobster Tale friends to pick a recipe, try it and then share you thoughts….or better yet become a pound cake food critic. Here they are…but wait a minute, what about the story and the storm?

Well on day five, the ice melted enough for me to head home. I just have to say, I loved being snowed in at Mom’s house. I had the best time talking, cooking, laughing, reminiscing and getting some quality girl time with my Mom. I didn’t have to share her with anyone, because no one outside the farm could get to us on the icy roads. Queen winter may have known what she was doing after all. Call it karma, call it fate or destiny, I just call it being home with Mom, priceless.

Now, are you ready for the Pound Cake Challenge? I’m scanning the recipes in just as they were written, stained paper and all so watch, bake and blab. My next blog will include the recipes. Happy baking and thanks Mom for an incredible five days.