'Fessing Up

Well, Filibuster and V are at work.  Squints is in the kitchen making chocolate chip cookies, fiddling with the recipe—adding a little of this and a little of that—experimenting to see if he can improve it or, perhaps, make the recipe his own. 
I’m OK with this tinkering. My only requirement is that he run the new ingredients past me first.  Sorry, but I cannot tolerate cilantro in my chocolate chip cookies, even if it is organic. 
We’re under a flash flood warning: For three days, we’ve had rain and severe thunderstorms.  Two days ago, the power went out.  We gathered at the kitchen table playing Scrabble and watching the sky darken, hoping we could send my husband out for Chinese.  But, just in time for me to make dinner, the power came back on.  We sat blinking at one another and I found myself torn between being happy that my frozen blueberries and raspberries and strawberries would be safe from thawing and being disappointed that we wouldn’t be having won ton soup that night.
My husband’s train is late again.  And so, on this gloomy evening, Squints and I have made the executive decision to whip up a batch of scrambled eggs and bacon.  And this, of course, reminds me of the morning my grandparents’ barn flooded.
I’d spent the night with my grandparents and woke to rain thrumming on the roof.  The house was quiet when I went downstairs.  The sky was dark.  Rain streaked the windows.  I went outside and found my grandparents bailing the water that had pooled around the doors of the barn in which they stored the hay.  If the hay got wet, it would be destroyed. 
I tried to help.  I got in the way.  They sent me back to the house, probably wanting to keep me safe and warm and dry. 
But I wanted to help.  What to do?
I’d do what I always did with my sisters on Saturday mornings: I would make breakfast.  Only this time, I would do it alone. 
I turned on some lights and started a pot of coffee.  I put the bacon in the frying pan and cracked a dozen eggs into the bowl to which I added milk and—where was the cheese?  My sisters and I always added a healthy dose of cheddar to the eggs.  Scrambled eggs on their own were boring: They were dry; they were too yellow.  They needed the color of the cheese to impart a rich orange. 
I scanned the shelves of the refrigerator, considering.  Mustard?  It would add color, but…
Ketchup?  No. 
Maple syrup? 
Now, here was an interesting possibility.  By adding maple syrup to the eggs, not only would my grandparents and I be having eggs and bacon, we’d be having the illusion of pancakes.  I pictured my recipe, featured at Bob Evans and Perkins.  I took out the little glass bottle, imagining the possibilities.  Yeah.  Syrup would be good in eggs.
I stirred a little into the eggs.  I stirred a little more into the eggs.  Then I poured the concoction into a frying pan.  I put a few slices of bread in the toaster and set the butter and jelly on the table.
The kitchen filled with delicious scents—bacon, toast, coffee—in the same way my own kitchen now smells of chocolate and Squints’ secret ingredient.  I couldn’t wait for my grandparents to come in, to see what a wonderful job I’d done.
The front door opened and my grandmother stepped in.  She removed her hat and raincoat, unwrapped the scarf from around her hair.  She smiled gratefully towards the kitchen, told me my grandfather wouldn’t be in for a while yet.  I poured Grandma a cup of coffee and put the syrup back in the fridge before dishing up two plates of eggs (and syrup!), toast, and bacon. 
I smiled, setting the plate before my grandmother: I couldn’t wait for her to take a bite.  As I watched, she picked up her fork.  Lifted a bit of the eggs towards her mouth.  Chewed.  She looked at me.  “Do these eggs taste…” Here she paused, as if searching for the perfect word.  I waited wondering what she would say.  Especially delicious today?  Amazing? Like heaven?
“…syrupy to you?” 
I frowned.  Took a bite of my eggs.  Ugh.  Bob Evans wouldn’t be calling me any time soon.
At this point, I should have, as my dad puts it, ‘fessed up.  But that day my grandparents weren’t their usual selves: They were worried and nervous about the barn and the hay.  What would they think if they knew I’d deliberately spoiled a dozen eggs?  I swallowed my eggs and swallowed the truth.  “No.” 
I finished that plate of eggs, while my grandmother concentrated on her bacon and the toast.  And ever since that day, I’ve been a bit suspicious of people who tinker with recipes.
But I see that Squints has cleaned up the kitchen.  His cookies—even with the secret ingredient—taste delicious.  And so, I’ll put on the eggs and the bacon and the toast for dinner.  Fortunately, I’m out of syrup.
Oh, and Squints’ secret ingredient?
Cinnamon.
Although he almost put in cayenne pepper by mistake.
I can see my grandmother giggling at that.



 

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Writing in the Margins, Bursting at the Seams: 'Fessing Up

Friday, July 8, 2011

'Fessing Up

Well, Filibuster and V are at work.  Squints is in the kitchen making chocolate chip cookies, fiddling with the recipe—adding a little of this and a little of that—experimenting to see if he can improve it or, perhaps, make the recipe his own. 
I’m OK with this tinkering. My only requirement is that he run the new ingredients past me first.  Sorry, but I cannot tolerate cilantro in my chocolate chip cookies, even if it is organic. 
We’re under a flash flood warning: For three days, we’ve had rain and severe thunderstorms.  Two days ago, the power went out.  We gathered at the kitchen table playing Scrabble and watching the sky darken, hoping we could send my husband out for Chinese.  But, just in time for me to make dinner, the power came back on.  We sat blinking at one another and I found myself torn between being happy that my frozen blueberries and raspberries and strawberries would be safe from thawing and being disappointed that we wouldn’t be having won ton soup that night.
My husband’s train is late again.  And so, on this gloomy evening, Squints and I have made the executive decision to whip up a batch of scrambled eggs and bacon.  And this, of course, reminds me of the morning my grandparents’ barn flooded.
I’d spent the night with my grandparents and woke to rain thrumming on the roof.  The house was quiet when I went downstairs.  The sky was dark.  Rain streaked the windows.  I went outside and found my grandparents bailing the water that had pooled around the doors of the barn in which they stored the hay.  If the hay got wet, it would be destroyed. 
I tried to help.  I got in the way.  They sent me back to the house, probably wanting to keep me safe and warm and dry. 
But I wanted to help.  What to do?
I’d do what I always did with my sisters on Saturday mornings: I would make breakfast.  Only this time, I would do it alone. 
I turned on some lights and started a pot of coffee.  I put the bacon in the frying pan and cracked a dozen eggs into the bowl to which I added milk and—where was the cheese?  My sisters and I always added a healthy dose of cheddar to the eggs.  Scrambled eggs on their own were boring: They were dry; they were too yellow.  They needed the color of the cheese to impart a rich orange. 
I scanned the shelves of the refrigerator, considering.  Mustard?  It would add color, but…
Ketchup?  No. 
Maple syrup? 
Now, here was an interesting possibility.  By adding maple syrup to the eggs, not only would my grandparents and I be having eggs and bacon, we’d be having the illusion of pancakes.  I pictured my recipe, featured at Bob Evans and Perkins.  I took out the little glass bottle, imagining the possibilities.  Yeah.  Syrup would be good in eggs.
I stirred a little into the eggs.  I stirred a little more into the eggs.  Then I poured the concoction into a frying pan.  I put a few slices of bread in the toaster and set the butter and jelly on the table.
The kitchen filled with delicious scents—bacon, toast, coffee—in the same way my own kitchen now smells of chocolate and Squints’ secret ingredient.  I couldn’t wait for my grandparents to come in, to see what a wonderful job I’d done.
The front door opened and my grandmother stepped in.  She removed her hat and raincoat, unwrapped the scarf from around her hair.  She smiled gratefully towards the kitchen, told me my grandfather wouldn’t be in for a while yet.  I poured Grandma a cup of coffee and put the syrup back in the fridge before dishing up two plates of eggs (and syrup!), toast, and bacon. 
I smiled, setting the plate before my grandmother: I couldn’t wait for her to take a bite.  As I watched, she picked up her fork.  Lifted a bit of the eggs towards her mouth.  Chewed.  She looked at me.  “Do these eggs taste…” Here she paused, as if searching for the perfect word.  I waited wondering what she would say.  Especially delicious today?  Amazing? Like heaven?
“…syrupy to you?” 
I frowned.  Took a bite of my eggs.  Ugh.  Bob Evans wouldn’t be calling me any time soon.
At this point, I should have, as my dad puts it, ‘fessed up.  But that day my grandparents weren’t their usual selves: They were worried and nervous about the barn and the hay.  What would they think if they knew I’d deliberately spoiled a dozen eggs?  I swallowed my eggs and swallowed the truth.  “No.” 
I finished that plate of eggs, while my grandmother concentrated on her bacon and the toast.  And ever since that day, I’ve been a bit suspicious of people who tinker with recipes.
But I see that Squints has cleaned up the kitchen.  His cookies—even with the secret ingredient—taste delicious.  And so, I’ll put on the eggs and the bacon and the toast for dinner.  Fortunately, I’m out of syrup.
Oh, and Squints’ secret ingredient?
Cinnamon.
Although he almost put in cayenne pepper by mistake.
I can see my grandmother giggling at that.



 

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23 Comments:

At July 8, 2011 at 5:03 PM , Anonymous Thelma Zirkelbach said...

My daughter-in-law once made us some chicken and misread the teaspoon of cayenne as tablespoon. I'll never forget my first taste. She's actually a really good cook and she never uses recipes, so I guess she wasn't used to reading them.

 
At July 8, 2011 at 5:50 PM , Anonymous jaum said...

Does Squint take after his Uncle John? Avacdo ice cream?? You need to break this type of cooking experimentation early and often! You didn't tell us about your Grandfathers reaction to the Bob Evans (type) dish. Diplomatic or honest?

 
At July 8, 2011 at 7:44 PM , Anonymous kgwaite said...

I suspect Grandma threw the eggs out when I wasn't looking (or, maybe fed them to the dogs?)

 
At July 8, 2011 at 7:45 PM , Anonymous kgwaite said...

Yikes. That must've been quite a surprise!

 
At July 9, 2011 at 3:51 AM , Anonymous sweetbutterbliss said...

We have just the opposite here. We have a drought. Mother Nature needs to spread this stuff around a little better.

 
At July 9, 2011 at 4:40 AM , Anonymous Katie687 said...

I am constantly amazed at your memory of childhood events. I barely remember last week. Are these from your journal. I wish I kept one. I hope your kids keep journals. You are a living testiment to the practice. - very enjoyable read. I can picture grams face now.

 
At July 9, 2011 at 5:45 AM , Anonymous Terry Stoufer said...

So much to love here....your switch off from present to past. The details, the connection. I can smell the bacon and eggs. Lovely piece of memoir!

 
At July 9, 2011 at 7:27 AM , Anonymous kgwaite said...

Thanks for reading! The skies have cleared out here and so I think I'll go pick peaches...

 
At July 9, 2011 at 7:29 AM , Anonymous kgwaite said...

I can't remember yesterday, either. This wasn't from my journal, but I really believe having kept one for the past 34 (yikes) years helped with observation skills. And, no. The kids do not keep journals. Oh, well.

 
At July 9, 2011 at 7:30 AM , Anonymous kgwaite said...

We were under here, precip-wise, as well. My perennial beds were a sorry sight indeed. Now, they're perking up a bit.

 
At July 9, 2011 at 9:46 AM , Anonymous Katie @ Chicken Noodle Gravy said...

Great story!! I'm a recipe tinker-er, and I don't really completely trust myself, so I know what you mean. I've definitely messed up some things...like the time I put Worcestershire sauce in my fried rice because I didn't have soy sauce.

Glad Squint's cookies turned out better than your eggs :)

 
At July 9, 2011 at 2:42 PM , Anonymous Galit Breen said...

What a fun post! I love the way you wove between the past and today!

Now syrup in eggs I'm not so sure about BUT I have had desserts with spice in them and it's actually delicious! Just a thought- he might be onto something! :)

 
At July 9, 2011 at 2:53 PM , Anonymous kgwaite said...

Syrup in eggs was pretty gross. But the cookies? Gone.

 
At July 9, 2011 at 2:53 PM , Anonymous elizabeth young said...

The innocence of childhood! You thought you were doing something great, it was just inexperience that thwarted your valiant efforts. I remember doing similar things, but my mother completely freaked out if I 'wasted' anything, having a war-time mentality all of her life. It's too bad, because these times are opportunities to encourage children and their ingenuity. Thanks for sharing!

 
At July 9, 2011 at 2:55 PM , Anonymous kgwaite said...

Yeah, I don't tinker - I just can't ad lib recipes. Once, when I was trying to impress my then-fiance with my cooking skills, I improvised a goulash recipe. He was kind about it...

 
At July 9, 2011 at 2:58 PM , Anonymous kgwaite said...

Thanks, Elizabeth! The thing is, my grandmother wouldn't have been upset over the eggs. She probably would have laughed. I was too afraid to tell her, though...

 
At July 10, 2011 at 4:00 AM , Anonymous Eryl Shields said...

You know, you've actually made me want to try that: syrup-eggs. I reckon it could be made to work.

 
At July 10, 2011 at 7:13 AM , Anonymous kgwaite said...

Hey, if you get something to work? Send me the recipe.

 
At July 10, 2011 at 2:07 PM , Anonymous Karen @ Time Crafted said...

Must admit, I don't use recipes for most dishes, except baking. And even when baking, I still mess around with those. But, I have to as we don't have any 'regular' all purpose flour in this house. We've got a gluten/casein (protein in dairy) free kidlet here, so unless its already a GFCF recipe (and even then I usually make some alterations), we make changes all the time. Though, not sure I'd like syrup in my eggs. Sorry. And while I'm not a fan of cayenne, I know there are quite a few sweet dishes that mix cayenne in with it. Wish I did like it, so that I could say how that tastes. :> I enjoyed reading your story!

 
At July 10, 2011 at 2:33 PM , Anonymous kgwaite said...

We went gluten/dairy free for a while two years ago due to some digestive issues with my youngest. NOT easy.

 
At July 10, 2011 at 2:43 PM , Anonymous Karen @ Time Crafted said...

We went GFCF (among other things we avoid) soon after we received an autism diagnosis for one of our kidlets. You're right, it's not easy. But, since we've had improvement since the switch, three and a half years ago, we've continued it. Thankfully, in the summer, grilling meat & veggies makes it easier. :>

 
At July 18, 2011 at 7:43 PM , Anonymous Bella said...

Kelly, what a delightful post! As I read your story, my mind wandered as I tried to imagine what Squints would add as his secret ingredient! I believe that when cooks add special ingredients, they make recipes their own. I have yet to disclose what most of my secret ingredients are to friends, family members or the Significant Other. I somehow think that if and when I do, the recipe will lose its magic and turn into just another recipe! :)

 
At July 19, 2011 at 8:56 AM , Anonymous kgwaite said...

Thanks, Bella. Yes, Squints is also reluctant to share his secret ingredients, but I shudder to think what he would put in if I didn't moderate. He's got interesting viewpoints on recipes. Although those mint sprinkles on cocoa were quite nice!

 

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