The room, once a cafeteria filled with the smells of good food, and the laughter and conversation of people from all over the area on a spiritual pilgrimage, now filled with the books and other items too long on the gift shop shelves. Oh that sweet, somewhat musty scent of oldish wood, delicately balanced with books. I can just smell and see this room now. Books adorning the tables just waiting for the right person to take them home, and perhaps read, or inhale deeply that new book smell. Among them Great Cakes by Carole Walter. Baking for me started early, in second grade, with a loaf of bread. I remember that day, warm and sunny, simply the perfect temperature day for making bread. I carried that dough with me where I went in mums bread rising bowl, Tupperware of course, lid snug. The bread warm from the oven, butter melting over the beautifully brown crust. Oh how I enjoyed that day.
Flour, sugar, butter, salt, vanilla, eggs, baking powder are always staples in the kitchen pantry. Betty Crocker at my side for so long. Not only the cookbook, but the cake mixes as well. The baking skill set started changing when the King Arthur Flour cookbook made its way into the kitchen. Sourdough pancakes are a thing and buttermilk pancakes made with a bit more intention than a box mix. Great Cakes though, oh how that book changed the dessert baking for the better. One of the first recipes I made from this books was the simple yellow cake mix what changed though wasn’t so much the ingredients, as the pace, order, and timing each was incorporated together. The butter creamed to a pale yellow, sugar added slowly and given that few extra moments to really blend in with the butter.Then the eggs, once added all at once, now one by one given a full minute of mixing. Oh that was hard I say, really hard for a once stir it all together and pop it in the oven style of baker. Not that there’s anything wrong with this type of baking, sometimes this is a necessary part of life. Next the dry ingredients not only mixed together but sifted, then added alternately with the milk, and again given time to fully become one with the batter before the next addition. Cake mix batter is loose and flows easily from the mixing bowl into the waiting cake pans; this batter must be measured into the pans and smoothed with an offset spatula. And while the smoothing happens a bit of a concave curve added, pushing the batter to the pan edged for that delightfully consistent baking.
The next cake was the Devils Food, again moving from a box mix to the recipe, taking are to take each step carefully and slowly. This wasn’t quite like any cake I’d made before (I must make this soon!) again the batter is much thicker and the cake has this dry/moistness about it that made me realize it would be the best base for whoopie pies, devil dogs and other delightful chocolately treats holding a firm “treat” place from the childhood memory.
My guy and I usually get to Mass about 30 minutes early. It is in part to get the “good-to-us” seats but mostly it’s for the time in the quiet with the Lord. Until I downloaded the e-reader to my phone I had journal and book in hand, spending the time between the two. The e-reader on the phone changed all that, and honestly in some ways I’m regretting that as there is nothing like the smell of a book and the feel of a pen in hand giving careful, active attention to reading and to my heart is a beautiful gift. The reading before Mass includes a variety of faith based books sometimes flitting from author and subject, to author and subject in the same half-hour. Several times in the last six months or so I’ve actually reached the end of the book and honestly it’s felt rather strange and somewhat jarring. Here we’d been walking together for this long period of time and then it was done. Done. What am I to do now? So right now I’m working through the Introduction to the Devout Life with a friend and honestly it has me thinking and pondering and wondering what I’ve done in my faith life so far. And seriously I wasn’t ready for this until now in this part of my faith walk because Teresa of Avila, Jen Fulwiler, Hallie Lord, Elizabeth Scalia and Bishop Sheen have all been great companions along this way. Also on the e-reader feeding the creative life and oddly the faith life are secular authors as well as they walk with me in developing that Gift of God in the quilting/work parts of my life. The most recent download is the Summa Theologica, I wish I understood the draw here though I got something of a glimpse yesterday in reading Rachel Bulman’s article How God Pursues us Through the Intellectual Life. This is both of deep interest and an acknowledgement of several components coming together including a better understanding of Christianity through this reading, and developing and honing my skills in and for quilting at the same time.
In the quilting world I’m learning a lot of new things, so in a wider all over human being sense it makes sense that I’m going to take on new reading and learning in the Faith life. Just as in my twenties there was a readiness to take on new ways of looking at baking, the thirties and forties were for quilting the fifties seem to be about moving, quilting, learning and deepening of the Faith life. One of the things Rachel points out in her article is that when we don’t understand a word, or phrase it’s okay to look it up or ask, while this has for ages had the potential for making us feel stupid the reality is it’s not stupid, it is at once a moment of humbleness, and showing those around us that seeking answers is a good thing. While we may not find the answer we were looking for, we find the one we need.
As a Bonus in this moment of life I am blessed with new friends who are not only willing to explore these things with me but ones who are encouraging the pursuit of making mistakes, seeking answers and (hopefully) growing as a woman.