Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 - Advanced)
Topic: Christmas Cooking/Baking (not recipes) (10/16/08)
TITLE: Yuletide Bakers' Break-up
By Angela M. Baker-Bridge
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ADD TO MY FAVORITES
Who else would’ve been such a dependable productive workhorse for her? Maybe she’s forgotten who helped her climb her social ladder, but I haven’t. She’s been a successful hostess and chef because of my support. Forget about all I’ve done for her throughout the year, what about every Christmas season?
Each Yuletide I’ve labored relentlessly preparing her family favorites. If I had my say we’d have stuck to the classics, but she always insisted on trying some new concoction from her magazines. True, some were delectable, but others caused me to choke and spit, fearing I’d never be rid of their awful taste.
Our tradition was to begin preparing her Christmas delicacies the day after Thanksgiving. Each morning we reviewed the day’s recipes while she spread out the ingredients. We used tons of butter, flour, and sugar – granulated, brown, and confectionary. It’s impossible to estimate how many dozens of eggs and gallons of vanilla we went through. Additional extracts included almond, anise, lemon, orange, peppermint, and rum. There were pounds of almonds, pecans, walnuts, and candied fruits. I also incorporated dozens of bags of chocolate, butterscotch, and peanut butter chips. These ingredients were just the basics.
Her baking ritual was always the same. The first week we tackled classic fruitcakes. We spent the next week on several varieties of Italian biscotti and pizzelles. As Christmas drew closer, we turned out wedding cookies, rum balls, oatmeal-scotchies, peanut-butter blossoms, chocolate-chip-macadamia clusters, coconut macaroons, lemon bars, pumpkin rocks, magic bars, thumbprint jam-filled butter cookies, pecan tarts, spicy nuts, and fudge. We produced mini loaves of sweet breads the following week. Finally, we used the holiday week to tackle the meal, hors d'oeuvres, soup, main course, and entrees. Is it any wonder that I’m worn and aged?
One Christmas season she hosted a party for fifty college athletes. She invited several inexperienced coeds to join our baking ritual, intending to provide baking lessons. Flour coated the entire kitchen like freshly fallen snow. Eggshells added crunch to the dough. The stench of burned cookies overpowered the sweet aroma of our labor. The cheerleading ballerina was useless except for comic relief. I watched the others devour more cookie dough than they dropped on the baking sheets. What a nightmare.
During another Christmas season, we prepared cookies for two-hundred Christmas Cantata attendees. Our lone volunteer was eager to learn the art of baking Christmas goodies. She turned out to be a foreigner to basic baking ingredients.
Scrunching her nose while looking at the vanilla extract, she blurted out, “This is weird. I can’t believe you actually keep this stuff in your pantry.”
When asked what she thought went into cookies, she grinned, “Well, like flour and sugar.”
It was a long night.
Throughout the years, we’ve seen it all while I remained faithful. Sadly, she’s never expressed any appreciation. I was taken for granted. As vital as I was during her Christmas baking binge, when company arrived, I was pushed aside and hidden out of sight. I’ve endured humiliation, a lack of respect, and the never-ending assaults from her children. How many times did they lick me then toss me aside as if I was disposable?
If she wants to replace me, so be it. She may silence my inner bearings this Christmas, but she cannot wipe away the years of joy we brought her family and friends. After all, didn’t we bake and give all those sweet treats as a symbol of what the Christmas story is all about … giving our time and love?
At least my memories will go with me as I’m placed on the Kitchen Aid Electric Mixers’ shelf at the local Thrift store. I only wish I could see the face of my old baking mistress when she discovers the price tag on those new sissy colored models. Maybe then, she’ll appreciated what she had. Ho-Ho-Ho.
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