23 September 2011

Crossing Over

First day of Autumn. The day when the sun crosses over the equator to the other side. Crossing over is happening in my house a lot lately. The baby is crossing over thresholds of growth each day. And this week it is the threshold of being a crawler to a walker. He hasn't yet taken a real independent step, though we expect it at any moment as he's "walking" with a hand held, and standing any chance he gets. Proud smile while standing as if he's about to take off running.
I can see it all calculating and making sense to him day-by-day.

All this physical and seasonal change brings to mind what I was doing this time last year. I was hugely pregnant and nesting for the babe to arrive. I was cooking large batches of soup and apple sauce. I was a day-dreamer and about to be flung into a new life, another side of the world.

Cooking is my passion. Cooking with ease and clarity, organized and neat, this is how I like to exist in my kitchen. My body felt highjacked last September, but I was able to cook at my pace, to imagine this little person soon to come, and take my time. These days, my kitchen feels highjacked.

Cooking, that which is usually and now rarely, my escape, comes in spurts with a babe at my ankles, clawing at my pant leg, squealing from a high chair he hates to be confined in, or in my arm while I try to do anything I can with the other arm. Anyone who looked on would experience a mix of disturbed awe, and impressed anxiety, just how it feels to cook these days.

Faced with a few bananas that went far too long on the counter, I decided to make banana bread last night. Oh, but let's experiment and make banana gingerbread instead. Now how to execute this with a cranky eleven month old who wants his little paws in everything I do.

Let's just say, it's a bit of a mad scrambling of mixing, dashing from the pantry to the kitchen (which are divided by a baby gate one must hop over) for ingredients with baby at my heels, picking him up because he's cried too long while I've cracked in the eggs and melted butter on the stove, because adding dry to wet can be done one handed and all the while singing everything I do, in real time, so he learns the words, so he is distracted by this crazy mother he's been assigned to and so he might just be entertained by the sing-song of my voice long enough for me to get the damn batter into the pan and into the oven before he scrambles over to it as the hot hot door opens and closes before him! Whew! And that's the short short version. Never mind skipping over the boat in the middle of the floor, then actually tripping over the potato masher I thought was a good "toy" during this experiment.

None of this will sound unfamiliar or strange to any mom out there who cooks. Yet it's times like these that remind me, every day I am a new mom, to appreciate my time and value those moments I am able to engage in the passions of life without chaos at my feet. Because they are seldom. And one day, the baby will not be eagerly awaiting my every move, wanting in, wanting part of, wanting inclusion. One day, soon, he will be walking, and from that moment on he will continue to step over thresholds as life gets ever larger for him. And I will, on the inside, beg for the days when he is this wrapped around my life.

Here's the adapted recipe. And a picture to show how my kitchen life has changed from neat and orderly to a confused mess of life on the counter top, locked cupboards, and whirring past us at break-neck speed.

Banana Gingerbread (adapted from the Cook's Illustrated "The New Best Recipe")

In a mixer on medium speed, combine:
3/4 cup molasses, one stick melted butter, 3/4 cup sugar, one egg. Add 1/2 cup buttermilk and 1/2 cup milk.

In a separate bowl, combine:

2 cups flour, one teaspoon baking soda, one teaspoon salt, two teaspoons ground ginger, one teaspoon cinnamon, one teaspoon ground cloves, one teaspoon nutmeg, one teaspoon allspice.

Mash two over-ripe bananas and add to the wet mix in mixer.

Gradually add dry to wet while mixing. Scrape the bowl if necessary, don't over mix.

Pour batter in a greased 7"x10"pan and bake at 350 degrees for about 30 min. or until a toothpick comes out clean from the center.

Enjoy warm with whipped cream.

Happy Autumn to all! May you cook in peace and enjoy every moment and every bite even more!
With love ~AD.


Anonymous said...

Love it!!! Keep it up Annalee.

Anonymous said...

Love IT!!! Keep it up Annalee.

Regina said...

This is going to sound like I plagiarized it from Hallmark but I'll say it anyway: YOU ARE AN INSPIRATION, even for those of us who are not mothers! :)