Sunday, May 29, 2011

Dimples, of the Peanut Butter Kind

Dimples in cheeks and chins intrigue me.  My face is not dimpled, and maybe that's the reason for my dimple interest, because aren't we all fascinated by the features we don't have?  This may be why buoyant breasts with just a crevice of cleavage are so intriguing to this B-cup bird.  

Dimples are basically dents, a "flaw" in the flesh, that appears at the stretch of a smile.  Cheek dimples are ephemeral, whereas chin dimples appear an impression of permanence.  Facial dimples are a powerful public feature because they affect expression and invite interaction.  Sacral dimples and duo-dimples above the buttocks, on the other hand, are private landmarks on a lover - islands on a journey around the body. 

I fear if I fall asleep next to a man with a dimpled chin or cheek, my little finger will settle like a cup in a saucer and swirl the circle of skin in meditative motions until I am lulled into slumber.  Maybe an obsessive caress of the flesh is the origin of dimples, thus my desire to do the same to this day is an observance of the first dimple ever created. 

Besides being a tactile lullaby to my sleepy fingers, I considered the possibility that dimples are one of Dr. Paul Ekman's Micro Expressions, but maybe the muscle that shivers just under the skin is seen in all smiles, whether felt or false.  (I will peruse Ekman's articles and get back to you)

I can't resist a good chin dimple, especially the one nestled in the chin of this redheaded wonder of a boy, also the son of a friend.  Isaac is a couple years older than this photo, but the dimple still remains.  Dimples give men of any age a thoughtful look; a sign of veracity. 

In addition to dimples in the skin, my tongue is a fan of a dimple inspired cookie we call Peanut Butter Dimples. They are flourless, egg/dairy-free peanut butter cookies with a cardamom sensibility.  These cookies taste like a cousin to candy, and they are a favorite of both Meg and the Retail Bitch. I have voyeuristically witnessed both gals eat the cookies until they should feel guilty, yet they never do; they devour with an unabashed passion as if their tongues are forming dimples with every lick. 

Meg named our peanut butter cookies after dimples, and it's an appropriate name as they appear not as dimples but as the the batter that was scooped out to create the indentations in the first place.  What if we were originally peanut butter dough figurines laid end to end on a pine table that was as long as the last unknown universe? And as the pneuma of life was sprinkled on our sticky surfaces, some of us were lucky enough to have a bit of dough from our chins and cheeks scooped out by a delicately held spoon?  Take a look at our Peanut Butter Dimples and tell me otherwise.

Reading this post will likely cause you to be more aware of your dimpled surroundings.  You will start seeing dimples everywhere, on friends and strangers, lovers and peers.  I advise you not to take tongue to cheek and pretend you are licking the peanut butter dough bowl from their face.  Lick our dimples instead; it's less creepy.

~ Trilety

Monday, May 23, 2011

Moms and Grandmoms

Inspired by Satid and Trilety to write my own story, I have a few things to say about my early years as an amateur baker...

I didn't really do any baking. Ha! Well, not until I was older, but I want to talk about the very first inklings and memories. So I'll tell you that I loved to help my mother and my grandmothers when they did it. Chocolate chip banana bread and decorated Christmas sugar cookies from Mom, special birthday cakes from Grandma Anderson; and apple pies from Grandma Butch.

At first I couldn't remember my Mom baking very much. She was busy. A single mother of three for most of my childhood and she worked full time. When the heck did she have time to bake?! But she did it. She made time, which is something that I appreciate more and more as I get older. And I remember her baking cookies and birthday cakes for us as we watched with big eyes fixed on the amount of batter left in the bowl and on the beaters.

One thing Mom made time for every year during the holidays, was sugar cookies. My brothers and I helped decorate these. A nice layer of icing made from powdered sugar and milk, tinted with some food coloring was the... icing... on the... cookie. We decorated with blues and greens, reds and yellows, and white as well. I don't remember having brown colored icing which makes me wonder what color went on our reindeer cookies ... perhaps red or blue? And we had sprinkles too, red hots and nonpareils and silver balls. A thoughtful activity on Mom's part that resulted in one of my fondest memories. It's interesting to see what ends up having an impact on us later in life...

Mom also made banana bread. It was fabulous! She would save up our browned, goopy, ripe bananas and store them in the freezer. A freezer full of bananas! And while in there they got to be as black as night. Those are good banana bread bananas, the black ones. And she put hundreds in her banana bread, or so it seemed. And chocolate chips too. Oh my! The result was such a moist, banana and chocolate affair, it was futile to resist. My older brother Jason still speaks of it as if it were legend.

Grandma Anderson, this is my mom's mom. She and my grandpa raised my mother and her sisters on a farm in northwest Iowa. Grandma did a lot of cooking, and baking. By the time her grandchildren began showing up, she had mastered the family meal. And she was thoughtful enough to make birthday cakes for each of us when we came for a visit. Looking back, it seems as though the cakes were all different. I remember brown ones and white, yellow and pink. And the best part was the sprinkles on top. Birthday cakes have become something special to me. A birthday is a day to have a cake of your very own. Everyone deserves a birthday cake!

Grandma Butch babysat us often while we were on summer vacation from school and Mom was at work during the day. She was a perfect combination of strict and loving. And she made pies, which was part of her love. In our backyard grew three crab apple trees. Those apples were tart and gross to eat, but that makes them great for baking! So Grandma Butch had us gather apples from our trees; bigger apples with minimal holes from bugs. As we brought them in she began peeling and slicing. I remember her wearing a green cobbler apron with white patterns. And as she sliced apples, she would talk and I would learn. The apple slices went into a large Pyrex bowl with sugar and cinnamon. The pie crusts were rolled carefully and evenly. Once the bottom crust was in the plate with the apples piled on top, Grandma would let me pinch the top crust on around the edges and slice the vent holes too. There is a lot of bonding done through baking. I see now how the passing on of information this way is so precious.

It turns out that the time and presence and love my family gave through their baking, have inspired me to do the same.


Sunday, May 15, 2011

Childhood Foodie

Thanks to Satid for so entertainingly and sweetly telling his story about coming full circle from the arms of a baking mom to the arms of a baking girlfriend.  Taking Satid's lead, I decided to tell my own childhood food story. 

While I was growing up, there were two places my mom could be found; outside or in the kitchen.  She was forever baking, yet rarely eating.  Though, I'm told batter that drips from a spoon has fewer calories than batter that is baked into a brownie.

My mom believed children should be engaged with as peers, so she elevated my height to counter-level.  I sat a few feet taller, and chatted to her about the tales of my day and then periodically pondered my future, all as she whipped eggs and taught butter a lesson with the end of a wooden spoon.   Bowls meant for licking and beaters meant for sucking would be passed to me as I regaled my mom with the stories in my head.  I still love to hop up on a counter and chat someone's ear off, and I can still be found with a face shiny and wet from an overzealous tongue attempting to reach the center rod of a metal beater.  (Beaters are never licked when these birds bake for customers)

It wasn't all about bowl-licking.  I did my fair share of cooking too.  Though, with a bristle of confinement at having to bake indoors, I often grabbed up my gear and head to nature.  And I did it naked.  If you're already cooking outdoors, then why adhere to the rigid, moral structure of the modest indoor apron?

Baking is in my blood. . .or bones. . . or something a little less physically unappetizing.  Rather, baking is in my mouth.  It is in the conversations I have with myself while baking alone, and the conversations I have with Meg as we bake together.  It's about the taste on my tongue that gives me a sensory story of the ingredients and their origin.  And like a shared piece of cake on a single fork, my baking is in your mouth too.  

Baking binds us, not with eggs or flax seed, but with time and connectivity. 

What's your childhood food story?

~ Trilety

Monday, May 9, 2011

Full Circle

This wonderful story is from my guy, Satid. Enjoy! ~Meg

I’m the luckiest guy in the world.  Not only have I had the pleasure of sharing the last few years and the same nest with one of these two birds, I’ve had the opportunity to follow them as they set forth on their great scheme to win over the local community, one muffin at a time.  Whether participating in Two Birds “focus groups” (muffin/cookie tastings), or serving as a research and development guinea pig (free cookies), or conducting quality control of the product (more free cookies!), my taste buds have seen many seemingly disparate pairs of ingredients find a happy home with each other and in my belly!  

Featured in delightful muffins and cookies (with equally delightful names such as: Sgt. Pepper’s Strawberry Fields, Midnight in India, and Two Strips and a Short Stack), the meeting of strawberries and pepper, chocolate and curry, bacon and... baking powder?... was fated in the confectionary stars, it was destined.  So it seems, also, that I was destined to play the supporting role in the life of a baker, or bake-tress, as it were.   

An extra-large cake made to feed the whole mall!

For this little skater bird, raised on the beaches of Florida, this wasn’t his first stint in the bakery business (or rather, the business of eating up all of the profits, one pecan sticky roll at a time).  You see, my family owned our own bakery for 10 or so years of my childhood.  I must have been 6 when my dad retired from military service and made the decision to become a baker, himself.  I remember my parents going away for a few months (leaving my sister and I at Aunt Ellen’s house in St. Louis to witness our first winter snow) and subsequently returning to Florida, with us in tow and with them skilled in the baker’s arts. They opened the bakery knowing how to top a perfectly rolled danish, how to create intricate floral patterns out of frosting, etc., and supported us and our appetite through our adolescence.  Everything from fudge nut brownies and apple turnovers to cinnamon-raisin breads and 5-tiered cakes was baked daily from our shop, in our town’s local shopping mall.

Mom in action

I always loved watching my parents at work, using all of the tools at their disposal - multi-bladed pizza-cutter looking devices to cut dough, giant industrial-sized mixers, etc.   Unfortunately, as a 10-year-old, I didn’t get much of a chance to play with their grown-up toys.  In fact, bakery life for me, overall, didn’t involve much hands-on, in the “creative process”, you could say.  They let me do little things, things that were likely to not have violated child labor laws and sanitary codes (as written for late 70s small-town family bakeries). Nevertheless, the sight of me “working” must have been comic relief for the other employees.  Picture this little, then 3-foot-tall Thai boy, donned proudly in his adult-sized apron (while ever-vigilant of said apron’s desire to trip him at every step) and up on a step stool, trying to frost cookies cooling on the countertop. 

Dad in action

With that said, my time spent “on the clock” would ultimately be left to be found at the intersection of airbrushing stenciled-out ETs (as in “ET, phone home”) onto cookies (in other colors besides brown, to avoid copyright infringement) and over-pumping bavarian creme into chocolate eclairs.  That was pretty much the extent of my “hands-on” experience with baking.  I never really had any confidence in making things that I couldn’t microwave or pour milk onto, anyway.  I’ve always been generally intimidated by recipes, afraid to change ingredients or worried that I would measure out the “called-for” amounts incorrectly, down to individual grains of salt.  It always amazes me to watch these two birds, like my parents before them, in the kitchen, working their alchemy.  A pinch of this for taste, a scoop of whatever that was for texture, and so on, taking their elemental understanding of ingredients to a whole new level and creating masterpieces with them.  Nope, it seems that my skill lies less in the preparation of foods and more in the indulgence of them.  Here’s my secret: find food that makes you smile when you eat it, eat more of it, smile, repeat.   

My sister on the left

A whole lifetime (and a bunch of recurring dreams of “the bakery” still being open) later, here I am - full circle, packing homemade yummy cookies into my lunch bag and bragging immodestly of how lucky I am.  And yet, I try not to take for granted how fortunate I am to have these birds (and their concoctions) in my life.  As for this current run of delicious delectables ever-available to me, the gods must be smiling. 

Again, meeting my bird, Megan, must have been destined.  It hit home, literally, on a visit back to Florida.  My mother suggested that I go through the attic to see if there was anything left over from the days of the bakery that could be of use to Megan.  We rummaged through old boxes and found scrapers and spats among other things that were left unused and in pristine condition.  Just seeing them brought back a whole lifetime of memories, invoked nostalgia, and excited me in a weird way that spoke to me  finally getting a chance to use a scraper like a grown-up.  Anyway, I like to think that those items were just waiting there for *both* Megan and I to arrive at a time and place for them to finally be un-boxed and used.  
Yup, destiny. And something about these two birds. Their ability to read tea leaves and then go on to make a wonderfully delicious earl grey muffin out of those leaves (and make me smile) is magical.