Dear Friends and Fellow Bakers,
Welcome to the November 2017 Issue of Betterbaking.com which you should be receiving via the usual site and the new one. You can log in on the new site and perhaps adjust your password. Member log-in and recipe access is available at both websites, during this transition time. It will take some time for things to settle but I welcome you to this beautiful new site. And without further ado, here’s my Note from Marcy, just in time for autumn hospitality season. Enjoy!
November 2017 Baker’s Stash Recipes
Game Changer Carrot Cake
Salted Caramel Cookies
READ MORE ?
After the Big Dinner: Clean Up Now or Later
It is 8 am and someone may still be sleeping. It’s hard to tell as the nest empties some chicks linger on the teetering edge, almost leaving, coming back and flying off again. So I try to be quiet emptying dishes from the dishwasher and re-loading and overall taking a look at the messy, aftermath terrain of a family dinner.
Where to start?
Why didn’t I do this last night?
Are you yourself a clean it up now or later sort? Barring putting away perishables, there is no in-between.
When I was married and my three sons were young, my then mother-in-law and then husband would cluck at me whenever I said: “Leave it, I can do it tomorrow when I’m fresh’. Both armed with some form of harmonized OCD and do-it-now-get-it-over-with insistence, they would plunge into cleaning at 11 pm or later, after the boys had gone to bed and the guests had left. And when I was most tired.
I would give a feeble attempt to help (since it was my kitchen after all – was I not queen of my realm as a chef, cookbook author and keeper of the keys of my own home?), but by midnight, I had to beg off, leaving adult mother and son in a J-cloth face-off.
The truth was, after cooking, baking, hosting and shepherding three boys throughout it all, I had no more energy and couldn’t wait to sink into bed, visions of sugarplums still dancing through my head. But more than that, this is what I have come to think about it all – for the clean it now types who should know (lest they think I am lazy or an avoider).
A table, having taken the weight of glorious family dinner or holiday celebration foods, needs to breathe. It gives its own thanks. It doesn’t mind the telling remnants of its finest hour and finest mission: serving. The soiled dishes, the messy kitchen, the clues of food that nourished body and soul – the art form of my life, similarly, need to be still the state they were left when the last guest said goodbye or a sleepy child, full of perfectly roasted chicken and thick slabs of fresh bread, went off to sleep.
I see a messy kitchen like a dishevelled bride: she’s happy, she’s gladly weary and surrendered. She is never more lovely. One doesn’t want to fix the tendril of hair on her temple or straighten the creased in the wedding dress or put away the white satin dancing shoes – even with their scoff marks of wedding dance use. She is fine how she is, where she is.
So now, certainly not a bride myself nor even a wife, I survey my night-after kitchen. I love the disarray and casual subtle way it begins to take order, in bits and small and conscious efforts. I might start with the dishes or clear the table, shake crumbs out of the tablecloth and fold it for the wash. Later it will hang outdoors and dry in sunlight. I appreciate my new perspetctive on this new day and the fresh coffee brewing in tandem with my mindful clean-up. I reflect on the night before: the laughter still hangs in the air, the half-filled wine glasses give evidence to toasts and raised arms of family love. Scraped dessert saucers of cheesecake devoured when everyone said they’d had enough; the bittersweet drops of wine on the white tablecloth, the last heel of the bread that was the star of the meal.
Why do people clean up beauty and its companionable energy right away?
Why do we rush to remove the tableau of love and food?
What can’t wait until the morrow?
Why do we see neat as right and good and temporary messy as ‘bad’ or lazy?
The morning after a big dinner I don’t mind the mess. I revel in it. It’s an extension of the warmth and occasion and the blessing I have to have people in my life at my table.
I move quietly and deliberately like a dancer, delicately removing each symbol of what has been. I’m in no rush to ‘clean’ and get things back to how they should be in a default state. Plus now I have all the energy and leisure to take care of mine, my way.
Happy November everyone and as always, sweet times in the kitchen,
Author, Master Baker