Sunday, April 4, 2010

On a Daypass from Heaven

While sitting in wait for a scrumptious breakfast prepared by my baby Ben on this fine Easter morning (he outdid himself once again. I don’t technically believe it’s possible to outdo yourself as many times as Ben has, but he’s proven me confused about the origin of the phrase yet again with his chocolate pancakes with coffee/vanilla syrup, topped with a yogurt-Di Saronno cream. See what I mean? The man continues to stupefy), my eye was drawn to one specific cookbook, buried among dozens of other cookbooks. This one is compact in size, covered in Plain Jane khaki with black print. That’s it – it’s not showy, it’s not eye-catching like the lavender-spined “Martha Stewart’s Cupcakes” or the “Pie” book decorated with pies depicted in moon phases of uneaten waning to the new moon of an empty pie plate requesting it be refilled. No, the book I was inexplicably drawn to was a bit of a wallflower sitting in a bookcase of show-offs. But it drew me, so I walked over and plucked it out.

“Bohemian-American Cookbook” the cover reads, with a simple post WWII line rendering of a happy cook presenting a steaming serving dish. She’s happy and you know you’ll be happier once you open the cover and peek inside to skim through all the soul-satisfying comfort food recipes.

And so it is: these are the recipes my Mom and Grandma (“Baba” was the affectionate term) would follow. I knew there’d be plenty of pickled meats and dumplings, but what I hadn’t realized was that this particular book was truly a melding of Old World cuisine with the more modern recipes found in America – this was a melting pot cookbook which brought together tradition and fresh horizons.

It also, apparently, was a special cache for my Mom. Because, housed within its pages, I found what can only be described as treasure. Magical treasure. Angel treasure from above sent on this holy Easter Sunday.

We’re not church-goers, but we find our religion, our God, everywhere. God working through others, through us. And, sometimes, that means through a messenger like my Mom. And it all makes sense when I recall that early this morning I reminded Ben of my childhood Easter when I sadly felt too old to receive an Easter basket but Mom surprised me with one anyway, featuring one of my most treasured Barbies. I was still technically a baby, my Mom’s baby, and I deserved a treat, even if I was ten, my first double-digit Easter.

But Easter was only truly Easter when Mom baked the Lamb Cake, a lamb-shaped pound cake topped with buttercream icing and coconut. What I found in this book made me realize that Mom is so very near, and probably so near because it’s Easter and she loved Easter and she always made sure that pound cake lamb was present and part of the day, parked on the serving platter, lying in wait, his candied cherry smile beckoning my little family, dessert-lovers all.

And so I share with you the Easter treasure unearthed today, written in my Mom’s own hand:

Pound Cake
3 cups of cake flour
8 eggs
2 cups of sugar
1 lb. of butter or margarine
1 teaspoon of baking powder
1 teaspoon of Vanilla
Cream the butter with sugar. Add eggs one at a time, beat well, then add the flour & baking powder sifted. Add vanilla. Bake 1 hour at 350 oven. Bake in a big tube pan.

“Ha ha,” says Mom. “I knew I’d get myself into this blog of yours SOMEhow!”

Mom, how could I not let you shine?

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