Archives for posts with tag: baking

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BUTTER
by Connie Wanek 

Butter, like love,
seems common enough
yet has so many imitators.
I held a brick of it, heavy and cool,
and glimpsed what seemed like skin
beneath a corner of its wrap;
the décolletage revealed
a most attractive fat!

And most refined.
Not milk, not cream,
not even crème de la crème.
It was a delicacy which assured me
that bliss follows agitation,
that even pasture daisies
through the alchemy of four stomachs
may grace a king’s table.

We have a yellow bowl near the toaster
where summer’s butter grows
soft and sentimental.
We love it better for its weeping,
its nostalgia for buckets and churns
and deep stone wells,
for the press of a wooden butter mold
shaped like a swollen heart.

SOURCE: Poetry (February 2000).

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Born in Madison, Wisconsin, poet Connie Wanek grew up on a farm outside Green Bay and in Las Cruces, New Mexico. She was educated at New Mexico State University. Wanek’s poetry collections include Bonfire (1997), winner of the New Voices Award from New Rivers Press, and Hartley Field (2002). Wanek’s honors include the Willow Poetry Prize, the Jane Kenyon Poetry Prize, and a Witter Bynner Fellowship at the Library of Congress. She co-edited, with Joyce Sutphen and Thom Tammaro, the anthology To Sing Along the Way: Minnesota Women Poets from Pre-Territorial Days to the Present (2006). She lives with her family in Duluth, Minnesota, where she has worked at the public library and as a restorer of old homes.

PAINTING: “Butter” by Jody Van B. Prints available at etsy.com.

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DOWN ON MY KNEES
by Ginger Andrews

cleaning out my refrigerator
and thinking about writing a religious poem
that somehow combines feeling sorry for myself
with ordinary praise, when my nephew stumbles in for coffee
to wash down what looks like a hangover
and get rid of what he calls hot dog water breath.
I wasn’t going to bake the cake

now cooling on the counter, but I found a dozen eggs tipped
sideways in their carton behind a leftover Thanksgiving Jell-O dish.
There’s something therapeutic about baking a devil’s food cake,
whipping up that buttercream frosting,
knowing your sisters will drop by and say Lord yes
they’d love just a little piece.

Everybody suffers, wants to run away,
is broke after Christmas, stayed up too late
to make it to church Sunday morning. Everybody should

drink coffee with their nephews,
eat chocolate cake with their sisters, be thankful
and happy enough under a warm and unexpected January sun.
***
“Down on My Kneew” appears in Ginger Andrews‘ collection An Honest Answer (Story Line Press, 1999), available at Amazon.com.

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BOOGIE-WOOGIE WEDDING CAKE (Excerpt)

by  Jesús Salvador Treviño

A capricious breeze escaped from a small hole in the ground in Mrs. Romero’s front yard at precisely the place where more than a year before the sinkhole had erupted. The freakish wraith of wind rose from the vent and moved, snakelike, across the dichondra lawn and then began a slow ascent into the sky, traveling in a lazy spiral, like a hawk riding hot thermals, rising higher and higher, until the effervescent current was circiling high over the dilapidated wooden structure at 410 Calle Cuatro, which for forty-eight of her eighty-two years Mrs. Romero had called home.

 The breeze then suddenly plunged into a sharp dive, gathering speed and momentum as it descended, honing in on Mrs. Romero’s house like a precision arrow finding its bull’s eye. As the gust of wind reached the house, it found an opening in the kitchen window and burst through like a sprinter crossing the finish line.

Inside, the octogenarian was busy beating the special batter for the wedding cake she had committed to bake for Rudy Vargas and María López’s big wedding…With her back to the pastry cookbook that lay open to a recipe for “Golden Cream Wedding Cake,” she did not notice when the rascally draft swept over the cookbook, rustling its pages from page 231 to page 238, the recipe for “Three-Tier Chocolate Layer Cake…

***

A Boogie-Woogie Wedding Cake” appears in Jesús Salvador Treviño’s collection The Skyscraper that Flew and Other Stories, available at Amazon.com)

Painting: “Lady” by Isblahblah, ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

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HOW TO LIVE ON BREAD AND MUSIC
by Jennifer K. Sweeney

You need not confront the storm
though it comes with its guillotine
of wind and arrows of ice.
Let it come.
Take the wheat in your sage-rubbed hands
and pull out the dull chords.
Fold in Ravel. Hazelnuts.
Fold in the fury,
quarter notes rising from the grain.
These are your hands weighing the earth,
alchemy of salt and scale,
hum of clove bud.
Into the fire your life goes
to work its slow magic
and the song is the yeast
when the body wants
and it wants    fills    empties
as the day    fills    empties.
Song of milk glass.
Song of chaff.
That the thing delivers itself whole
like a blessing.
Feed the animal those brown fields.
Feed the rest of the body any tune,
any note will do.
***
Jennifer K. Sweeney is the author of two poetry collections: Salt Memory (Main Street Rag, 2006), available at Amazon.com, and How to Live on Bread and Music (Perugia Press, 2009), available at Amazon.com.Visit the author at jenniferksweeney.com. This remarkable poet offers private instruction and poetry critiques. Learn more here.

Photo: Painted Bread, found at oventv.wordpress.com.

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A CHRISTMAS MEMORY (Excerpt)

by Truman Capote

Imagine a morning in late November. A coming of winter morning…Consider the kitchen of a spreading old house in a country town. A great black stove is its main feature; there is also a big round table and a fireplace with two rocking chairs placed in front of it. Just today the fireplace commenced its seasonal roar.

A woman with shorn white hair is standing at the kitchen window. She is wearing tennis shoes and a shapeless gray sweater over a summery calico dress. She is small and sprightly, like a bantam hen; but, due to a long youthful illness, her shoulders are pitifully hunched. Her face is remarkable — not unlike Lincoln’s, craggy like that, and tinted by sun and wind; but it is delicate too, finely boned, and her eyes are sherry-colored and timid. “Oh my,” she exclaims, her breath smoking the windowpane, “It’s fruitcake weather!”

…”I knew it before I got out of bed,” she says, turning away from the window with a purposeful excitement in her eyes. “The courthouse bell sounded so cold and clear. And there were no birds singing; they’ve gone to warmer country, yes indeed. Oh, Buddy, stop stuffing biscuit and fetch our buggy. Help me find my hat. We’ve thirty cakes to bake.”

 It is always the same: a morning arrives in November, and my friend, as though officially inaugurating the Christmas time of year that exhilarates her imagination and fuels the blaze of her heart, announces: “It’s fruitcake weather! Fetch the buggy. Help me find my hat.” 

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To Mrs K____, On Her Sending Me
an English Christmas Plum-Cake at Paris
by Helen Maria Williams (1761-1827)

What crowding thoughts around me wake,
What marvels in a Christmas-cake!
Ah say, what strange enchantment dwells
Enclosed within its odorous cells?
Is there no small magician bound
Encrusted in its snowy round?
For magic surely lurks in this,
A cake that tells of vanished bliss;
A cake that conjures up to view
The early scenes, when life was new;
When memory knew no sorrows past,
And hope believed in joys that last! —
Mysterious cake, whose folds contain
Life’s calendar of bliss and pain;
That speaks of friends for ever fled,
And wakes the tears I love to shed.
Oft shall I breathe her cherished name
From whose fair hand the offering came:
For she recalls the artless smile
Of nymphs that deck my native isle;
Of beauty that we love to trace,
Allied with tender, modest grace;
Of those who, while abroad they roam,
Retain each charm that gladdens home,
And whose dear friendships can impart
A Christmas banquet for the heart!

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Mma Ramotswe sighed. “We are all tempted, Mma. We are all tempted when it comes to cake.”

“That is true,” said Mma Potokwane sadly. “There are many temptations in this life, but cake is probably one of the biggest of them.” 

From In the Company of Cheerful Ladies by Alexander McCall Smith

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HOW YOU TASTE THE APPLES

by Joan Jobe Smith

The winter of Yolo County Fair’s 1989
First Prize for Apple Pies showed me
how to keep my pie flute golden while
it baked by simply making an aluminum
foil collar for the pie pan like you might
for the TIn Man’s whiplashed neck.
While she showed me how to weave
a lattice top for my cherry pie she
told me her apple pie won because of
the Gravensteins, those large, yellow
red-striped apples she drove 40 miles
to Sebastopol to buy that are only ripe
two weeks in July, the same time her
husband’s parents came from Pittsburgh
to discuss her bad marriage getting worse.
While her husband and his parents
drank Wild Turkey in the living room
in her kitchen she rolled our the pie crust
dough made of lard and butter for a nutty
flavor and then she arranged inside the pie
the Gravenstein slices, apple halfmoons
halfmoons, a perfect swirl ad infinitum so that
when the apples baked down in their juice
the top crust would not go hard and fill
with stale air and many bourbon highballs
later, after her husband’d told His Side of
the story, his parents came to the decision
that their son’s obligations to his baby and wife
should not interfere with his personal happiness
or life and the last place her husband took her
before he went away was to the Yolo County
Fair and when she saw her First Place blue
ribbon, she covered her face to hide her tears,
asked him to leave her alone with her pie for
awhile so he carried their baby away to see
the clown. The main reason, though, she told me
she won was simply because those Gravenstein
apples are the perfect sweet-tartness for pies.
You don’t have to add lemon or cinnamon
or sugar or any other spice. That way
all you taste are the apples.

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A happy birthday and a huge slab of apple pie à la mode to Joan Jobe Smith, author of the recent Silver Birch Press release Charles Bukowski Epic Glottis: His Art, His Women (& me), available at Amazon.com. Joan shares her January 25th birthday with writing legends Virginia Woolf, Robert Burns, and W. Somerset Maugham. 

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“How You Taste the Apples” by Joan Jobe Smith won the 1996 Mary Scheirman Award for poetry.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Joan Jobe Smith, founding editor of PEARL and Bukowski    Review, worked for seven years as a go-go dancer before receiving her BA from CSULB and MFA from University of California, Irvine. A Pushcart Honoree, her award-winning work has appeared internationally in more than five hundred publications, including Outlaw Bible, Ambit, Beat Scene, Wormwood Review, and Nerve Cowboy—and she has published twenty collections, including Jehovah Jukebox (Event Horizon Press, US) and The Pow Wow Cafe (The Poetry Business, UK), a finalist for the UK 1999 Forward Prize. In July 2012, with her husband, poet Fred Voss, she did her sixth reading tour of England (debuting at the 1991 Aldeburgh Poetry Festival), featured at the Humber Mouth Literature Festival in Hull. In November 2012, Silver Birch Press published her literary profile entitled Charles Bukowski Epic Glottis: His Art & His Women (& me). In 2013, World Parade Books will release her memoir Tales of an Ancient Go-Go Girl. Her literary magazine PEARL will release its 50th edition in 2013—find out more at pearlmag.com.

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A CHRISTMAS MEMORY (Excerpt)

by Truman Capote

Imagine a morning in late November. A coming of winter morning…Consider the kitchen of a spreading old house in a country town. A great black stove is its main feature; there is also a big round table and a fireplace with two rocking chairs placed in front of it. Just today the fireplace commenced its seasonal roar.

A woman with shorn white hair is standing at the kitchen window. She is wearing tennis shoes and a shapeless gray sweater over a summery calico dress. She is small and sprightly, like a bantam hen; but, due to a long youthful illness, her shoulders are pitifully hunched. Her face is remarkable — not unlike Lincoln’s, craggy like that, and tinted by sun and wind; but it is delicate too, finely boned, and her eyes are sherry-colored and timid. “Oh my,” she exclaims, her breath smoking the windowpane, “It’s fruitcake weather!”

…”I knew it before I got out of bed,” she says, turning away from the window with a purposeful excitement in her eyes. “The courthouse bell sounded so cold and clear. And there were no birds singing; they’ve gone to warmer country, yes indeed. Oh, Buddy, stop stuffing biscuit and fetch our buggy. Help me find my hat. We’ve thirty cakes to bake.”

 It is always the same: a morning arrives in November, and my friend, as though officially inaugurating the Christmas time of year that exhilarates her imagination and fuels the blaze of her heart, announces: “It’s fruitcake weather! Fetch the buggy. Help me find my hat.” 

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“The house became full of love. Aureliano expressed it in poetry that had no beginning and no end. He would write it on the harsh pieces of parchment that Melquiades gave him, on the bathroom walls, on the skin of his arms, and in all of it Remedios would appear transfigured: Remedios in the soporific air of two in the afternoon, Remedios in the soft breath of the roses, Remedios in the water-clock secrets of the moths, Remedios in the steaming morning bread, Remedios everywhere and Remedios forever.”…From One Hundred Years of Solitude, a novel by GABRIEL GARCIA MARQUEZ

PHOTO: Mya Jamila, ALL RIGHTS RESERVED