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Thursday, November 27, 2014

In praise of the ingredients of my offering

I have been making my offering to the gathering, a cranberry kuchen from my German grandmother's recipe. The process of putting the ingredients together is like a poem of gratitude and honor.
First of all: cranberries! If I were a locavore They would be out of reach, an exotic delicacy...which they really are. They only grow in acidic bogs in the northern hemisphere of the world. These come from Oregon...about as far away on the continent from Florida as you can get. I have to thank the truckers for bringing the harvest to market.

I then had to cream the butter with the Florida raw sugar. The butter made me think of my sweet baby sister who used to milk her cow (Martha) every morning, holiday or not! I think she made butter a few times, though I remember her cheese experiments better. As I soften the rectangles of butter back to a paste, I think of my sister and all the dairy maids working with the cows this morning.
Another ingredient like the sugar that is local and in season, is the orange! It is with pleasure I squeeze the juice out of the oranges. I make myself a glass of juice to drink while cooking.

Two of my most prized possessions, on my list of things I would grab if I needed to migrate quickly with only what I could carry, are Papa Frank's copper pot and Nick's wooden spoon. The pot was a wedding gift and has been the vessel for sustaining no-fail delicious meals for over half my life. It has all of my ex-father-in-law's love in it. The wooden spoon was a gift from an 8 year old boy fifteen years ago, an acknowledgement of a friendship I treasure. Whenever I use the spoon, I believe anything is possible.
The eggs are from the Country Hen and I love the story, the Farm News, that is included in every carton. It is a glimpse into the life of a farmer and his dreams for a healthy sustainable occupation. I remember my own chickens and the joy in finding their eggs. Each hen laid a different color and size. I loved the variation and someday I will have chickens again... But are these not beautiful????
As I worked in the flour and the baking powder I thought of the farmers all across the country. Seriously, if you are eating today you should thank a farmer!
I added a tablespoon instead of a teaspoon of baking powder, oops.

While the kuchen cooked, I put some Baume des Pyrenees on my burn. It was, as my French grandmother told me, the perfect thing for burns. In fact it should heal quickly... Because the product is so good, the American medical establishment has lobbied for it not to be available in this country... as my grandmother said, "it would put them out of business".
Today we give thanks as a collective in the United States, taking a pause to reflect and acknowledge our blessings. There is power in gathering and, with your group, highlighting the positives. Some are gathering at football games or in dens to watch parades on TV, and others are gathering around a table of food.
Here is the cranberry kuchen, ready to travel!!! Love to everyone I can think of, and to all those I fail to be aware of. May your bellies be full.

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