Sunday, March 10, 2013

MY MIXER

If you know me, you know I like a bargain. I’m not talking just “cheap”. A bargain, to be a real bargain, needs to have quality in the mix, not just price. Down East Home used to have the best tent sales.  They still have them, but they’ve gotten too savvy or something, cuz the bargains aren’t such great bargains these days.  But they used to be. Years ago Mom and I drove up to Layton for the tent sale and found a few of these wonderful AEG mixers for $100 each.  Considering that they go for $700 new, we snatched them up.  I gave one to my sister, two to daughters who bake, and kept one for myself.  It’s a workhorse of a mixer and has seen a lot of play time in the Connors kitchen.

I love my mixer.

I love my mixer, not so much because of the “what”, but because of the “with” and the “for”.  I can make a pretty good cake, and yummy cookies, but the best things that comes from that mixer are the memories. My mixer is dependable, with good adjustable speed and timer, and a wide open top that welcomes sprinkles of sugar poured from little girl hands and cups of flour dumped by little boys in a hurry to have a taste.

The first snow of every winter I call my little ones to my kitchen. Each one selects their own personal apron from the back of my pantry door. They duck their heads into the tops of their aprons and I tie them at their little waists.  I pull out the footstool and set it before the kitchen sink.  One by one my little Grands stretch up over the counter edge and swirl their fingers under warm tap water.  I squeeze some lavender soap into their chubby little palms and they bubble it up then rinse it off.  We move the mixer to my large granite island and they squish together on the black wooden stools, their heads huddled over the mixing bowl, their little voices calling out; “I speak the sugar”…can I put the vanilla in?”…”when is it my turn, Gummy?”  I flip my red cookbook open to the page with the stained 3x5 index card.  There on the top, in my mother’s sacred handwriting: Gingerbread Men.

Scoop by scoop the spices mix with the flour and the butter mixes with the molasses and soon the aroma of ginger and cinnamon rises from the top of the bowl as it spins, like an aromatic volcano spewing yumminess. When the dough is mixed just right we spoon it into plastic bags, press it out into a square brown sheet, and set it on a cookie sheet out on the front porch to chill.  After some play time, and maybe some mac and cheese, the dough is chilly and firm.  We clean off the island and sprinkle a cup of dry white flour onto the green granite, pretending it’s the snow that’s falling outside the kitchen window.  Sophie spreads it with her hand, writing little pretend messages in it. 
We dig the rolling pins out of the baking drawer, coat them with flour, and lay them on top of the cold shingle of dough.  My treasures press their full body weight into the rolling, but it takes a good sized Gummy to make it move. Meanwhile, the other kids have taken the vintage Gingerbread Boy cookie cutters and shimmied them in the flour along the edges. We cut and scoop and bake and cool and mix soft butter with powdered sugar and good vanilla, topping the dancing fellows with raisins.  The frosting at the hands of the littlest ones is not so lovely.  I have to have a talk with myself and allow it to be OK that those little cookie gents look like ragamuffins.  It’s a blessed gingerbread boy that is used to train little cooks.  I tell myself they should stand proud amidst those stuffy looking brothers with crisp white shirts and tidy raisin buttons.
The taste is timeless: it’s the taste of my childhood and the memory of my mother as a middle aged woman, and the scent of my first real kitchen as a wife and the feel of flour caked on my apron where my pregnant belly hits the counter top.  Like a gastronomical flashback my life comes together when my tongue presses against the roof of my mouth and the raisin mixes with the frosting with the ginger and the sweet.

One day, not too far from here, I will yearn for little ones to call on a snowy November day.  I’ll pull out my old dependable AEG with her never-say-die motor and tie my apron on.  Maybe I’ll mix and roll and chill and bake by myself, just to keep the tradition alive.  I’ll box up those little men and send them off to some missionary in some distant place, or some college student, or working boy, or young mother who is too far away for Great-Gummy cooking time.  I will blow a kiss onto the raisin lips of each boy and drive them to the post office. I suspect that’s coming. But not today.  Not this year. 

That mixer of mine was surely a bargain.  Beyond value. Priceless, I’d say

2 comments:

  1. I love your mixer. All that comes out of it and all who help make things with it!

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  2. that mixer has made for some really sweet moments with those kiddos who adore you!!

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