Previous Challenge Entry (Level 4 – Masters)
Topic: In The Kitchen - deadline 7-19-12 @ 9:59 AM NY Time (07/12/12)
TITLE: Something I Learned From My Mother
By Pam Carlson-Hetland
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The wise woman builds her house, but with her own hands the foolish one tears hers down.
Mouthwatering aromas met Debbie at the kitchen door. She paused to breathe deeply and watch her mother pull a cake pan out of the oven. Mary exchanged it with a pot roast surrounded with vegetables. An apple pie cooled on the counter.
"Special occasion, Mom? These are all Dad's favorites." Debbie asked taking note of Mary's lipstick and pretty blue dress.
"Not really." Mary answered smiling slightly. "What's in the bag?"
"New bell bottoms. Aren’t they groovy? They’ll go perfectly with my hot pink sweater. Is that cake for Linda’s fondue party tonight?"
Mary nodded. "It's Grandma's Cola Cake. I'll frost it before you leave."
Debbie returned to the kitchen to show off her outfit and gather her contribution to the party. The table was set with the good dishes for two. Before her daughter could ask, Mary explained: "Your Dad has been quiet lately so there’s something on his mind. I figured he might need to talk.”
"Yeah, I noticed his face buried in the newspaper a lot. But, really, Mom-- this is the 60's. That’s like Grandma's old saying of 'The way to a man's heart is through his stomach’? Haven’t you read anything about women’s liberation?"
"I follow a different book, Debbie." Mary said patting her Bible on the counter. "A good meal lovingly prepared and combined with a listening ear opens one's soul. It just works that way--most of the time, with most people."
"Sounds like some old proverb or something."
"You'll see." Mary smiled knowingly at her teenager. "When you get married, remember that what happens in the kitchen is just as important as what happens in any other room. It's something I learned from my mother."
Hours later, Debbie wandered in the back door lost in thought over some surprising revelations that came to light during the leisurely dinner with her girlfriends. She expected to find her parents watching television. Instead, she saw them still at the table--evidence of their meal pushed aside to make room for the half-eaten pie in front of them. Mary laughed softly and reached across the table. Frank smiled and lifted Mary's hand to his lips. An aura of intimacy around the couple prevented their daughter from intruding. Debbie looked down at the empty cake pan in her hands. Reflecting on the evening’s events, she quietly retreated to her bedroom.
Melissa knocked briefly. Without waiting for a response, she entered her mother's kitchen.
"Mom," she called, "I brought back your roaster...Wow, you’ve been busy today." Melissa surveyed the counter-top filled with rows of cupcakes, bars, and a luscious chocolate cake. Debbie’s husband, Dave, stood at the stove sampling from a simmering pot.
"That is the best sauce you’ve ever made, Honey.” Dave checked his watch. “Must run—meeting Mike at 1:00.”
He gave Debbie a lingering kiss, planted a quick smooch on top of his daughter’s head, and waved good-bye.
“’Bye, Dad”, Melissa responded. Turning to her mother, “What's all of this?" She asked, motioning toward the bounty of baked goods.
"The cupcakes are for Linda's daughter's baby shower. The bars are for the Bible study group. And the barbecue sauce is for your Dad. He's got a lot on his plate lately. So tomorrow, I planned his favorite meal: barbecued ribs and chicken, roasted vegetables, and chocolate cake, of course. I figured he might need to talk.”
"Does that really work? I mean…the favorite foods and all?"
“Everything OK at home?” Debbie perceptively inquired.
“Justin’s been so moody the past few weeks. I don’t know what’s going on. Maybe we just need a nice romantic weekend; but, as usual, no time or money to do that.”
“Well, a good meal lovingly prepared and combined with a listening ear opens one's soul.”
“Who told you that?” Melissa laughed.
“Something I learned from my mother. What’s Justin’s favorite meal?”
Debbie pulled a jar out of the refrigerator. “I just made a double batch of Grandma’s spaghetti sauce. Why don’t you drop Dylan off here after T-ball practice to spend the night with us. Then you can whip up a cozy dinner for you two. I’ll even contribute dessert.” She added while slicing off a generous portion of cake.
Melissa had just lit the candles when Justin walked in.
“What’s this?” he asked with a surprised smile.
“Oh, just something I learned from my mother.”
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