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Dinner Means You’re Home

Dinner Means You’re Home

I’ll be reviewing this terrific book soon for Bookslut, but I came across a passage about the power of dinner that I loved and wanted to share with you all.

But before I get to that, this is a wonderful read, despite a cover that Dwight Garner described (in his spot-on review in the New York Times) as “… like the cover of some mediocre nonprofit group’s annual report, or of Guideposts magazine.” As Garner points out, this book not only tells a fabulous story, but Ciezaldo is a terrific writer, the kind you want to keep reading lines out loud to your dinner partner, because they’re so clever. She’s really funny and especially this week, after the Egyptian revolution, her story of living among regular people in a war-torn Middle East is really pertinent. And did I mention she’s funny? She’s very funny.

But here’s the passage from the beginning part of the book that seemed pertinent to LivingSmall:

There were days when we didn’t knwo where we’d be sleepign that night; months when I longed to go to school like a normal kid. But one thing I never questioned: dinner. Somehow my mother saw to it that we sat down to a proper meal every evening. A glass or two of wine and a Crock Pot turned cheap cuts of meat into daube Provencal while she was at work; bacon leeks and cream (you only need a touch of each) transformed the proletarian potato into a queen. No matter where we found ourselves–a homeless shelter, a friend’s couch, our car– we would sit down to eat, and we would be home.

Toward the end of my senior year, a friend with a car gave me a ride home. I didn’ tusually let my classmates see our one-bedroom railroad apartment, … but Wendy was all right, so I brought her in, and my mother invited her to stay for dinner.

That night we were haivng Suleiman’s Pilaf, a lamb and onion stew topped with parsley and chopped almonds and sultanas served with rice and yogurt. It was one of my mother’s standbys, adapted from … Elizabeth David … Wendy lived in what I thought of as a mansion, with multiple bedrooms and an actual dining room. I always imagined people in houses like that eating duck in aspic off matching plates under crystal chandeliers. But when we all sat down at our small kitchen table … Wendy looked stunned. In her house, she told us, everyone just foraged in the fridge or got pizza somewhere. No one cared what or when the kids ate.

“Do you eat like this every night?” she asked with something that sounded like awe, and when my mother said yes, I saw that home could be something you made instead of the place where you lived.

As I surf around the cooking blogs, I sometimes see comments from readers who are grateful to see home food because it validates their own efforts. I worry about the lifestyle-ification of cooking — all the blogs and tv shows and magazines and competitions out there. Really, it’s just about cooking dinner. It doesn’t have to be fancy. It can be a stew you make in a crock pot before you go to work. The important things are that you make it from what Michael Pollan would call “real food” — and that if you live with other people, that you all eat together. (And if you live alone, as I did for a very long time, that you feed yourself real food. You are no less in need of feeding because you’re on your own.)

Centenarian

Centenarian

Jane Ripley as a child at the Water Tower

Last week I went back to the midwest to celebrate my grandmother’s 100th birthday. Here she is as a very small child in front of the famous Chicago Water Tower. Jane Plamondon Ripley was born into a manufacturing family in 1911, and I believe she was the first grandchild (if not, the others lived in Michigan, so she was the first one at home). Her grandparents, Charles and Mary Plamondon were leading citizens of the boomtown that was Chicago at the turn of the last century, and when they went down on the Lusitania, their funerals brought hundreds of people out to line the streets. Jane spent her winters in Chicago, and her summers on the farm where she currently lives with my aunt, her youngest daughter Molly.

Jane Ripley Polo

Riding was my grandmother’s passion, and the last ten years or so have been really hard for her. She had a hip replaced at 91 in hopes she could sit astride again (and when she couldn’t, she told us all she’d just go back to sidesaddle. She’d won plenty of horseshow classes sidesaddle as a girl.) She was also a crack polo player, back when polo was a hugely popular public sport. She’s the one in the center in this photo. In 1932, 30,000 people took the train out to Lake Forest, the suburb in which I grew up, to watch the eastern polo elite be soundly defeated by a team of western polo players led by Will Rogers. But my grandmother couldn’t play to the extent she would have liked, because she was a girl. As she once told me “I had to wait for one of them to get hurt, then I could play practice matches.”

We adored my grandmother when we were kids. She’s not a typical grandmother — she was never particularly warm, and she couldn’t cook at all (she’s famous for giving most of us food poisoning at one point or another), but she was fun and creative and liked to go do things. Plus she’d give us beebee guns to play with. When I was eight she came to stay with us for a winter because she’d broken a leg snowmobiling in Michigan (a consequence of having lost an eye in her early 50s). She was one of the first Americans into big China, on a goodwill trip with the Chicago Farmer’s Association, with whom she also toured Russia a few years later (when both countries were thoroughly Communist). She worked in various capacities at the Francis Parker School (which she also attended) for something like 60 years, and after she retired from Parker for the last time, she started a lending library in her small farm town so she’d have something to do every day.

It’s only been in the last four years or so that she’s really slowed down. Both her sight and her hearing aren’t great, and it’s taking her longer and longer to remember things, but she’s still all there. Living as long as she has is not for sissies — the hip she didn’t have replaced causes her considerable pain, and it’s really difficult for someone who was that athletic to be largely housebound. But she’s in a town where everyone knows her, and on the farm with Molly and her husband John (who wins a medal for his patience with her) as well as my cousin Jason and his wife Jackie and baby Riley. I’ve always been one of her favorites, and it was a good position to be in. She encouraged me every time I wanted to go off and do something, whether it was spend a winter teaching English in Taiwan or run off to be a raft guide. She’s always been my biggest fan, and the feeling is entirely mutual. So off I went to Leland in January where we kept it simple. A little dinner and some chocolate cake for a 100 year old woman who loves chocolate and who loved all of us to the best of her abilities.

Making Things

Making Things

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I’m finding the recession sort of interesting, and frankly, kind of inspiring. It’s easy when times are fat to get lazy — to buy stuff instead of fixing something or making it yourself, but really, just going out and buying things isn’t the way I was raised. I had one of those moms who if you were bored and whiny on a Saturday told you to “go make something” or better yet, “go outside and make something.”

Maybe it’s being from the Midwest. Lan Samantha Chang had a piece in the Sunday NY Times about living in Iowa, and how the recession hasn’t hit Iowa as hard as it’s hit other states because in the Midwest, there’s “an unspoken belief that one shouldn’t pay an unreasonable sum of money for anything that could conceivably be made, grown or fixed at home.” Although I grew up in a very wealthy suburb, we never had much money. Luckily, at least on my mom’s side of the family, I come from a long line of people who like to make things. My aunt has built houses, my grandmother didn’t like doing the laundry when my mom and her siblings were young so she’d sit down of an evening and whip up three new dresses instead, and my mother is an artist. Our default attitude was that if you can’t afford it, or can’t find one the way you want it, take a crack at making it.

So the other day, I ran out of tortillas and I was googling around looking for tortilla recipes when I found this interesting piece over at Culinate by Sara Gilbert about how learning to make tortillas gave her just that much more confidence that she could make things. What I found so fascinating was her very articulate dissection of the negative voice in your head that tells you you can’t, or it won’t be right, or you’ll look ridiculous, or what’s the point in trying. I know that voice all too well from writing fiction, but it really had never occurred to me that maybe that’s one reason people don’t cook. Because they’ve been convinced they can’t make it as well as something from the store. Or that it’s a waste of time to try a recipe that doesn’t work out. I’ve always liked playing around in the kitchen, and since you learn something from even the disasters, I thought her honesty about being afraid to try things was very touching.

pb110023So, Saturday morning, I decided to take a crack at flour tortillas. I spent a lot of time last summer fooling around with yeast-based flatbreads, and since my love of my Griswold cast iron skillet knows no bounds, well, it seemed like it would be interesting. The dough was easy — 3 cups flour, 4-5 tablespoons lard (I made some last fall when I bought the pig), some salt, enough warm water to make an elastic but not stickly dough. I made some dough, then took the dogs and ran to the store for eggs and some other staples while it rested. It’s dead simple really. Divide the dough in 12 pieces, roll each one out with a rolling pin (my first few were too thick, but then I got the hang of rolling them out really thin), into the skillet for a few minutes. I like meditative repetitive cooking tasks like this one. By the time you’ve got one tortilla rolled out, it’s time to flip the one in the skillet. It takes enough attention that you can get your mind off oh, the layoffs at work, and it’s just interesting enough that you have to pay attention. I had a lovely half an hour or so making tortillas on a Saturday morning.

pb110025And as I was making them I was thinking of people I know who don’t like to make things. The kind of guys for example who would look at you and say “why are you bothering with all that? you can buy tortillas for three bucks.” And I was grateful to Sara Gilbert for her article, because I’ve never really understood the anxiety that making something can inspire in people who have never been encouraged to make things. We made a lot of goofy things as kids — some of them worked, some didn’t. We were okay with the provisional (although the time I was sent off to the fancy pre-deb ball in a skirt with no real waistband, but a cummerbund held together with safety pins was a little more provisional than I was happy with at the time). And because I grew up around people who were willing to give it a shot, willing to try making something as a default, it left me the kind of person who was perfectly willing to get out and whack together some cold frames, even if the carpentry is a little crude. Or who will make tortillas and not be upset that the first few were sort of thick and stodgy, because the last few were really beautiful (and now I know how, and can make them again sometime).

I suppose what it comes down to is that for the last decade or so, many of us who had a little money got lazy. We hired people to clean our houses. We hired people to change our oil. We hired people to cook our food. We hired people to make our clothes. We hired people to do a lot of things for us that our parents would never have dreamed of not doing themselves. And as a result, I think a lot of people got the idea that not knowing how to do anything was normal, and some sort of sign of privilege, or status. I’m kind of hoping that maybe we’ll all come a little bit more down to earth again now. That people will remember that knowing how to take care of our own basic needs is really our own most basic responsibility on this earth, and that with practice, rusty (or nonexistent) skills develop, and become a pleasure.

Start a Revolution, Bake a Cake

Start a Revolution, Bake a Cake

NPR has been running a series this week about how people are changing their eating habits during this recession and I’m finding it really depressing. So far, it’s all about how people aren’t eating out, or ordering in, but they’re eating prepared foods out of the frozen food aisle. They had a home economist on yesterday pointing out that a bag of frozen french fries costs about five bucks, and for that you can get a five pound bag of potatoes. Granted, if you want fries, there’s the scary frying part, but as the home economist pointed out, is there anything easier to cook than a baked potato? A potato that isn’t fried is good wholesome food. It has lots of potassium and minerals and is a good solid whole food. With a five pound sack of spuds, you can keep your family fed for a while, or, if you’re a single chick like me, you will have the security of knowing there are any number of dead easy dinners sitting in that sack in the bottom of your cupboard.

That there is this enormous population of people who do not cook at all, who eat out or order in every night, is an ongoing source of astonishment to me. Even here, in Livingston, where most of my friends cook as a matter of course, there are still people like my next door neighbor who does not cook at all. She goes out for coffee in the morning. Because she doesn’t know how to make coffee for herself. The pizza and Chinese restaurant delivery people are at her door most every night.

My dearest friends have five kids, and because of E’s job, they spend most school years in LA these days. Last year, during the writers’ strike, when money was really tight, Nina had several really strange conversations with some LA mothers who kept trying to convince her that cooking at home was more expensive than eating out. We were both sort of stymied by that one. I suppose if you don’t know how to cook at all, or how to shop and manage your fridge so that you cook and eat the fresh veggies before they go bad, then yes, you might consider shopping and cooking at home more expensive. I’ve written before about how strange I find it that as a nation we’ve come to consider “cooking from scratch” something so out of the ordinary that it has it’s own name, but I find it very alarming. How did we become a nation of people who don’t know how to feed ourselves?

Granted, I like to cook, as anyone who has been reading this blog for more than five minutes can tell, and yet I’m going to have another tiny rant — you do not need a cake mix from the store to make a cake. There’s nothing in a cake mix that you don’t, most likely, have in your house. Cake mixes have weird chemicals and preservatives in them. Any basic cookbook will have a recipe for a basic cake. I’ve written a lot about cake. But I’m going to do it one more time. It’s really easy to make a cake.

My girlfriend Debbie has a birthday tonight, so I’m going to make a variation on the French Yogurt cake that I first learned about from Clothilde at Chocolate and Zucchini. Because she uses the traditional French method of measuring by yogurt containers, I now use the recipe in Baking: From My Home to Yours by Dorie Greenspan. This cake is dead simple. Flour, sugar, baking soda, eggs, yogurt and some oil. I do it in a bundt pan with some sliced almonds sprinkled in first, then add some of the sour cherries I put up last spring. Fifty minutes in the oven, flip it on a rack to cool, and I’ll do a little easy glaze with lemon juice and powdered sugar. And there you have it — a cake that is made from nothing but good clean delicious ingredients. It takes about ten minutes to mix up. It looks pretty because you do it in a pretty pan, but even if you do it in a loaf pan like the recipe suggests, a slice of cake with some fruit and perhaps some whipped cream? What could be prettier? And you have the added satisfaction of knowing you’re feeding your loved ones something wholesome that will make them happy.

So just do it. Make a stand against the eroding life skills of a fat, rich, America. Bake a cake. Bake a cake from ingredients in your house, and serve it to someone you love. Let the revolution begin with cake!

Kate Dolly’s Linens

Kate Dolly’s Linens

So, the past few years my grandmother (via my aunt with whom she lives) has been sending family things for Christmas presents. This year I got a wonderful box full of many random things including a set of table linens that once belonged to Kate Dolly.

Kate Dolly’s mother and my great-great-grandmother were sisters. Kate’s mother moved to St. Louis and married Thomas Dolly, and my great-great-grandmother went on a blind date (in her sister’s stead) and married Charles Plamondon, had five children, and died on the Lusitania. Somehow, most of “Aunt Kate’s” stuff wound up back in Leland, on the farm from which the two sisters originated. (A farm, by the way, that Mary and “Big Kate” fought for the right to inherit. When their father left it to them, their male cousins, who their father had paid passage for from Ireland, sued them because “girls” couldn’t inherit property. They took it to the Illinois State Supreme Court and won. And they guy who painted my house here in Montana three summers ago — he’s descended from those men who tried to steal our farm. Small world.)

Anyhow, I inherited all these lovely table linens. White damask, with Kate Dolly’s monogram embroidered on the napkins. The napkins are probably two and a half feet square. They’re enormous. They’re meant for huge Victorian robber barons. They make me giggle they’re so outrageous. All these lovely linens arrived and I washed them, worked the ancient wine stain out of the tablecloth, hung them on the line, and ironed them. Some old friends have arrived in town and I think perhaps this weekend it’s time to thaw a leg of lamb, put the leaf in the table, and set it with Kate Dolly’s linens. Linens that have survived a century of dinner parties. Things should be used, and I love that these are well used, and have endured.

Homemade Gifts

Homemade Gifts

Christmas bags ... A few days before Christmas I made the rounds with this year’s gift bags (despite the fact that it was 10 below 0 out). What I love about homemade presents is the sheer bounty you can give to people without feeling like you’ve broken the bank. This year everyone got a half-pint jar of pate, one of artichoke spread, a jam or two, and I made a few boozy little fruitcakes. I also tucked a box of crackers in the bag. All in all, a festive and fun little bundle.

But the really fun part was what came back my way. I stopped by Scott and Jennifer’s and Scott gave me a jar of home-canned elk. He says it’s great with a little sour cream as a stroganoff, so there’s some cold winter evening when I’ve been working too hard all set. Jamie and Steve left a similar bag on my doorknob Christmas day with apple chutney, orange marmalade and some grape jelly from Jamie’s grapevines in the backyard. My Milk Lady left me a jar of her homemade feta cheese marinated in olive oil with sundried tomatoes and olives (had some on salad yesterday for lunch — yum). I gave Steve, my neighbor down the street who sno-blows my front sidewalk for me a jar of sour cherries from the trees in the empty lot across the street from his house, and he and his wife showed up the night after Christmas with a plate full of homemade candy — fudge and peanut brittle and some other stuff that looks really great.

I think this is what I love most about giving people stuff you’ve made — the way it ripples out. Now here in Montana there’s a general interest in making things for yourself — legacy of all those years when we were so far away from everyone — so perhaps the people I know are a little more likely to return a gift of pate with one of chutney — but what fun. It’s like a pot luck. You get to see what everyone else has made and you get to give everyone a little present that shows how much you value their friendship without having to buy stuff (well, aside from Ball jars — I think I’m single-handedly keeping them in business). And you get to taste everyone else’s food. A good thing all the way around.

The Vacation Part of the Trip

The Vacation Part of the Trip

My trip last week was a great success — my mother and I had a very fun time together, and we found two apartment buildings that look interesting and cool and that she can afford — but it was a busy week. I put just over 1000 miles on the rental car, but the trip did have some very restorative aspects, one of which was the amount of time I got to spend in my friend Posy’s garden. Because there was no wi-fi connection in the guest house, I had to take refuge under this beautiful pergola, Posy's pergolawhich looked out over this lovely perennial garden. burbling fountain It was pretty swell out there, and at night there are some little lights tucked up in the beams of the pergola. I lucked out on the weather as well — it was lovely and warm in Chicago the whole week — beautiful fall weather.
Now Posy and I have a sort of mutual-admiration society that started when she moved into our neighborhood when I was about four. Apparently, I dragged Patrick up the driveway and said “Hi, I’m Char and this is Pat — do you have any kids we can play with?” She did — and so we stayed and I swear I spent half my childhood there — it’s been a great joy to become actual friends as adults as well — we had a great time catching up and as always, I’m enormously grateful for her friendship and hospitality.

Whole Foods, Whole Lives …

Whole Foods, Whole Lives …

I’ve been thinking for days about Michael Ruhlman’s tribute to his dad — it’s just a tiny note in a really beautiful piece, but Ruhlman points out that his father died in his house, among family, and with his ex-wife by his side. We should all be so lucky, or perhaps, we should all aspire to lead the kinds of lives and build the kinds of relationships where our family and loved ones will want to be there with us for that last mile. Another dear friend just buried his beloved, last week, an incandescent woman who went far too soon, who fought to stay with her daughter with a ferocity that left us all awestruck, and who died at home, with her beautiful daughter and my friend and her sisters and brothers and her mother at her side. It is unbearably sad, but there is something real and comforting in the fact that she died like a real person, surrounded by love, and not in some sterile hospital bed hooked up to things that beeped and shrieked, that she died surrounded by people who were heartbroken, but who helped her make that crossing.

And while it might sound glib at first, I can’t help wondering whether when we all write and talk about food in the way that many of us have been these past few years, what we’re really writing about is our relationships with one another and our deep desire to connect with what is real, and elemental and whole in the world. Our primary relationship with the physical world is through what we eat and what we feed one another — do we want that to be products so mediated that they are unrecognizable, or do we want to eat and feed our loved ones food that is whole, food that comes from known sources, food that was grown and harvested by people with whom we have a relationship, even if it’s as slight as a smile across a Farmer’s Market table once a week?

For much of the late 20th century, the impulse was to outsource all unpleasantness — we removed butchers from supermarkets and hence, removed any evidence that meat came from actual animals. We removed our old people to “homes” where they are cared for by strangers. We removed our sick and ill and dying to hospitals filled with florescent lighting and beeping machinery all designed to preserve the illusion that no one need ever die. We divorced our eating habits from the seasons to the point where we’re flying grapes and oranges and flowers from Chile and Australia and Columbia and we think this is perfectly normal.

I think these things are connected. I think that a growing awareness that natural limitations are not simply challenges to be overcome by technology might be a good thing. And I can’t help but think that there is a connection between chefs like Michael Symon and Chris Cosentino insisting that we learn to honor those animals we eat by not wasting any of their parts, by reviving the old habits of husbandry and thrift, habits which are delicious when done with care — and the movement to bring our dying loved ones home, where with the help of those dedicated hospice workers we can help them through this last transition. When my youngest brother died it was in a hospital, a hospital to which in the 1970s we weren’t even allowed to visit him. He went away, we were sent to our aunt’s house, and then he was gone. It was very sanitized. It still seems unreal. I grew up in a cancer cluster so this happened over and over — and I can’t help but think that while there is nothing more traumatic than losing your mother, that my friend’s daughter will be stronger from actually having been there instead of having her mother whisked away for her “protection.”

The whole/local/SOLE food movement gets a lot of flack for being elitist, for being a yuppie affectation, for being out of touch with “real” people — in this it reminds me of the environmental and adventure sports movements in which I spent so much of my teens and 20s — but there is a deep human need to connect with the unmediated realness of the world — whether that comes by putting on boots and a waterproof jacket and getting up at five in the morning to climb a mountain peak or by building a relationship with an actual person who raises animals or grows produce for you to eat. To seek out ways to connect with the elemental forces of the physical world is a powerful drive in a culture in which we are swaddled in layer after layer of corporate mediation, and perhaps simply deciding to find out where your food comes from is a first step in reconnecting with the world.

Feeding ourselves and our loved ones is our most basic act of love. Michael Ruhlman says his father was a man who loved to be the host, who wouldn’t sit down until everyone had everything they needed, a man who took care of his family. Jim and Mari and Isabella welcomed me into their French idyll that fall when I was so heartbroken over Patrick’s death. I was still very raggedy around the edges and it was generous of them to welcome me to their little green metal table outside that farmhouse near Aix, a green table where we sat and talked and drank wine and ate delicious veal chops we bought from the local butcher (who proudly displayed a photo of the steer who now resided in the case). If what we feed ourselves and our loved ones is the most basic building block for the relationships we build, then it’s not elitist to take more care, to build a food system that relies on actual relationships between people, between people and the land, between people and the animals they raise. Because when it comes right down to it, these relationships are all we really have in this world.

Unexpected Visitor

Unexpected Visitor

Jacques We had an unexpected visitor yesterday — it was early, about seven, and I was making tea when my dogs rushed the back fence, barking. I went out to shush them because it was early, we have neighbors — and who did I see on the far side of my back gate but Jacques!

I let him in and looked down the alley, but there wasn’t any sign of the Mighty Hunter. That was weird. So after I got the three of them to stop barking, I got on the phone. Jacques has been known to go on walkabout every once in a while, and apparently that’s what he’d done. We don’t know if he got following some of the many folks on the levee who had come down to watch the bridge collapse, or what, but somehow he went from the MH’s house on Tenth Street all the way across town to mine on C street — there are some big streets to cross along the way.

I have to admit, he did look, well, hangdog about it all. He sat in my kitchen looking like he’d had a slightly larger adventure than he’d meant to — I knew how he felt. When I was about seven, and Patrick was five (were we really that little? we didn’t feel like we were that little, we felt like perfectly capable people) we were stupendously bored. We lived on a farm then, and we’d been away for much of the summer so we couldn’t find our bikes, and the woods were full of mosquitos, and our parents were busy. So we decided we’d walk to Gigi and Shelley’s farm to play with them. It was always fun there. They had a pool. So we sneaked out the end of the driveway and started walking. It was August. It was hot. What took seven or eight minutes to drive was really far away. We got all the way to the corner where you turned off our road to go over to the one they lived on, probably 3 miles or so, when we gave up. We stuck out our thumbs and decided to hitchhike like the hippies we’d seen on TV (this was the early 70s). Of course, when that big, low-slung American car screeched to a halt we dove into the weeds. Suddenly it all seemed a little scary, especially when a heavy-set black lady came wading into the ditch to retrieve us. What are you two doing out here? she scolded. Where’s your parents? Where do you live? I’m going to give your mother a piece of my mind for letting the two of you out here on the side of this road. Anyone could pick you up. What are you thinking? Patrick and I looked at eachother and I lied. I told her we lived at Gigi and Shelleys. I knew that their mom wouldn’t be as mad at us as ours would be, and maybe we’d get to go swimming. So this nice lady and her son, who was driving, took us to the H’s house. When Mrs. H. came out, she looked at the two of us, in this car with these strangers, who were black (it was not a colorblind society that I grew up in) and sent us into the kitchen. The woman who picked us up just laid into Mrs. H, who was sputtering that she wasn’t our mom, and that yes, she thought we’d made an unwise decision. Mr. H came out as well, and with his famous Australian charm managed to calm this nice, apoplectic woman down. We sat in the kitchen, eating peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, knowing that despite the awe with which Gigi and Shelley were currently looking at us, we were in such big trouble.

That’s sort of how Jacques looked sitting in my kitchen yesterday morning. He was panty. He was a little freaked out. He seeemed very releived to be back inside a yard he knew, with his packmates. The MH left him with me all day as he had a tile job anyhow, and Jacques and I had a long discussion, much like that one in the H’s kitchen 35 years ago, about how he is always welcome at my house, but he has to tell someone where he’s going, and he can’t cross all those big streets by himself.

Sproing!

Sproing!

p2010015.JPG It’s a little hard to see in this photo — but two weeks ago, when I was making a cake for a party, my KitchenAid beater sprung a sproing! It broke! Now, to be fair, this beater is at least 35 years old (I’ve written before about my heirloom KitchenAid), and thanks to the miracle of Amazon I have a replacement beater, but it seemed that a breakdown after all this time was something worth commemorating.

And I’m really hoping that I’m just imagining that my elderly KitchenAid is beginning to sound a little sluggish. Since there’s no one left on earth who fixes things anymore, and I’d be heartbroken to have to replace it …