From the time I was a little girl, I can remember my excitement to visit one of my favorite people in the world. My Grandmommy Bun. We would drive for hours to get to her house, and would usually arrive hungry. Anyone who knows my grandmother knows she LOVES to feed people, and when we were headed her way she would start baking. We would rush out of the car and straight into hers and my Grandaddy’s arms, and then immediately after, we would start looking for the goodies. She baked pies, and delicious chocolate chip cookie bars, and always made fresh Chex Mix with extra bugles (our favorite). But I have a special place in my heart for her poundcake. She kept it in this GIANT Tupperware made specifically for cakes, and we would cut thick slices off and savour every single bite. To this day, I can’t enjoy any other poundcake, because it just doesn’t taste like hers.
Today I made my first poundcake. You see, my sweet Grandmommy lives with us now. My Grandaddy Bun passed away many years ago, and she has been alone for a long time. A couple of years ago we finally convinced her to join our family permanently. It has been such a blessing having her kind touch, quick wit, and selfless spirit here in our home. There are many things she can no longer do, or just doesn’t feel well enough to do anymore, but one thing that hasn’t stopped is her love feeding people. She is constantly asking me to pick up some extra bacon so that my kids can have more than a couple of pieces, or asks me to bring home a meal so that I don’t have to cook. She loves food, and the power it has to bring a room of people together and make them smile. Her food isn’t the “open a can and dump this in” kind of food. Its the home cookin’ straight from scratch kind, and I love it.
This week she found out we were going to my parents for dinner, and decided she wanted to bring a poundcake. She planned for 3 days to make this poundcake people, making sure I had the ingredients and going over the recipe with me carefully. She talked about whether to bake it 2 days before or just 1 day before, so it would be perfect, and agonized over whether it would turn out “just right”. I could tell this meant a lot to her.
Finally today, we spent almost an hour together in the kitchen. Separating eggs, putting three cups of flour in literally one Tablespoon at a time, and measuring everything precisely. The cake turned out perfect, and she is content. She can’t wait to bring it tomorrow, and I know she is anticipating the looks on each of our faces as we eat her creation. But for her, a big part of the joy was in the creation. She reminisced about how my Grandaddy would help her with this process, like how he would carefully turn the bowl as she was pouring it in, so that it would be even.
It makes me a little nostalgic really, to think how different her life was than mine. To imagine what it must have been like, planning out a poundcake and baking it 63 years ago when she would have been my age. I get so busy, that I am more of a “throw it in and see how it turns out” kind of a cook. It’s why I have never liked to bake. Not really. It takes too much time, and too much precision for my temperament. But today I realized I am missing something important. I am missing a slower, simpler way of life, where you take the time to BE precise, and create something “just right”. Where there is a joy in doing a job well, without expecting 100 likes on Facebook. A time of life where memories were created side by side cooking together. For my grandmother, the focus wasn’t on snapping perfect pictures of that recipe you mastered, but it was about love. Love of cooking, and bringing happiness to those you love through the meals you create. Meals themselves brought a family together, instead of being eaten on the run, as you go from one event to the next in a busy life.
Have we forgotten, in our rush for the perfect life, to slow down and remember the things that really count. Much like measuring the ingredients carefully and precisely, do we take the time to measure our lives, see the things that are important and put them in, in just the right way?
I hope I can learn to become more like my grandmother. I hope that I can learn to slow down, measure precisely and take joy and pride in a recipe cooked to perfection, and the pleasure it can bring to those I love. But most of all, I want to learn to love life as she does, to really savor every single moment and make my life worthwhile.
Oh, and the poundcake was delicious.
Here’s the recipe (you know…in case you can’t read her writing)
Grand mommy’s Pound Cake
3 cups sifted cake flour (you can use plain flour but take out 1 to 2 TBSP of each cup)
3 cups Sugar
1 cup “I can’t believe its not butter” or butter
1/2 pint sour cream = 8oz cup
1/4 tsp baking soda
6 eggs separated
1 tsp vanilla
1 tsp Almond extract
Beat butter and sugar together until whipped and add egg yolks, one at a time, beating each time until well blended
Have flour and soda sifted together, add this and sour cream alternately in small amounts
Add vanilla and Almond Extract
Beat egg whites until stiff then fold into mixture
Pour into greased pan
Bake at 300 for 1 1/2 hours
Know your own oven, could take less time to bake. I think cake flour does best, but sometimes use plain…still makes a good cake.