|We do the sun
We hike on trails
We don’t know what’s up
With this sleet, rain and hail.
We skate on boardwalks
And we lie on sand
Chance of precipitation
We don’t comprehend.
When the start of this year
Brought wet, scary weather
Most C-A sun worshippers
Held hands and wept together.
But not me, I’m stranger
I check the forecast each day For any slight chance of rain
Or a few clouds of grey.
I love storms and thunder
Lighting and wind, too
It’s a geographical wonder
When you live in a place like i do.
I’m the outcast, the killjoy
They say I should move to seattle
But I’m a native californian
Used to hearing windows rattle.
They way I solve this dilemma
Making hay while the sun don’t shine
I settle into my kitchen
And invite the skeptics to dine.
In addition to the shelter
From the wet roads and cold
I make soups, stews, and braised meats
Butter cakes in dainty molds.
I do granola and I do grains
But I know the value of sugar
When a kid is frightened by rain.
I sweat veggies in oil
For an immunity boost
And I squeeze homegrown citrus
For my own, very Cali juice.
Then we watch an old movie
Or read an American classic
And cross our fingers for loved ones
Making way home in traffic.
Satisfied with slow cooked and baked goods
I made during downpours
Those who miss the sun
Haven’t complained anymore.
Eyelids get droopy
And fuzzy blankets are laid
As we count away distant storm noises
And clear sky predictions are made.
You can be warmed by the sun
Rays of western light on your skin
But when the rain does come
Find a home fire within.
EGG IN A HOLE
(also known as Egg in a Basket)
One slice of bread, with a square or round piece cut from the middle of the bread and set aside
1 pat of butter
Place a frying pan over medium-high heat, add butter.
After about thirty seconds, turn egg and bread, and separate slice of bread alongside, over with spatula.
When egg is done, slide onto plate, and use the separate slice of cut out bread to dip into the yolk.
Goes with everything, especially chili on Super Bowl Sunday.
2 cups buttermilk baking mix
Preheat oven to 350Âº.
This happens to me sometimes, I will start to tear over a menu or cookbook.
Tonight at dinner, I really, really missed my stepson, Dillon. He hasn’t lived in the same city as the rest of our family for four years now, but sometimes it hits me – at the dinner table, for instance – he really should be here with us.
This past weekend, my husband and I took our three other children for dinner at a local diner following an afternoon of biking along the water. I was so excited to eat a patty melt and slurp down a chocolate maltÂ within the kitschy, aluminum walls of a classic American diner (this is usually the case, my appetite overshadows my awareness of things) that I wasn’t thinking about being a party of five instead of a party of six. You see, I am accustomed to my husband visiting my stepson in the state where he lives now rather than my stepson making brief, infrequent visits to see the rest of us. Being a married couple with three children instead of four is our accepted state of family affairs. With text messaging, e-mails, speed dial and low internet airfares, it doesn’t seem so lonely or isolated. It needn’t be this way forever.
Only food can illustrate to me how badly I miss him. Like when I look at a menu and see one of his favorites – something obscure or that I used to make for him – and with a paper menu trembling in my hands, it’s all I can do to keep from asking the waitress, “Can we get another chair for someone who will be joining us at a later time?”
We all miss Dillon, for obvious reasons; he’s an absent son and big brother, he’s that fourth person you need for a pick-up game. Because it’s nice to have an older brother to protect you or show you how to spike your hair. I am the only one who sees our life passing us by when I look at a menu, recipe card or empty frying pan.
“So what’s on the kid’s menu?” I said as we settled into the red vinyl booth of the diner. I read aloud the usual entrÃ©e choicesâ€¦chicken strips, burger, grilled cheese, pancakes, Egg in a Holeâ€¦wait, Egg in a Hole?
|My husband picked this up right away, my change in verbal demeanor, like I had seen a ghost walk by our table.”What’s the matter, honey?” he asked.”Nothing.” I have never been a good liar.
“No, really. What?” He wouldn’t stop until he cracks me.
“They have Egg in a Hole on the menu,” which is all I needed to say.
He registered my emotions and let me alone. He knew I was taking a second here at the diner to remember when I used to cut holes into slices of bread and slide them into a frying pan with pats of pale butter, cracking brown eggs into the middle of the bread slicesâ€¦and how the egg, butter and bread together emitted a milky scent and crackling sound before 7:00 a.m. on the weekdays or before ball games on weekends, for a hungry kid waiting for his favorite breakfast. For my stepson, Dillon.
“Oh, gotcha. Want to order it?” Careful consideration.
“No, I’m good. Maybe next time.”
I don’t cry by nature; I eat, act nonsensical, and write. This is why my husband asked me if I wanted to order Egg in a Hole; because I have been known to order something for Dillon, my stepson, and have it packaged to go, or take a few bites and set it aside. Why would I do that? Order food for someone hundreds of miles away?
Simple. I have to see if the chef makes it better than I do. And because that all-of-a-sudden, wish-you-were-here energy derived from food can reach my stepson faster than an egg fries in butter and is more tangible than a formulaic text message.
So I got past that culinary memory, the way people put a scrapbook or photo albums back on a shelf. Then I spotted cornbread on the menu, offered with the chili.
“Think they use sour cream in the cornbread like I do?” I asked my husband. He placed his menu down and looked at me, saying with raised eyebrows, yes, I remember when Dillon specifically requested your cornbread with meatloaf, steak and chicken. Enough already, eat something and you’ll feel better.
Rather, my husband said “You want to call and see if he’s eaten well today?” I shake my head from side to side, silently, like a kid about to cry. But I don’t call, and I don’t cry, because I know Dillon is probably working the second shift at the restaurant where he is employed, where his lunch is comped. “Just order the chili and cornbread. Okay?”
Okay. That was a good suggestion, of course, but nothing can replace the feeling of cooking for someone you love. There is no better time spent as a family than sitting around a table together. No parallel sensation of your loved one enjoying what you have made them or the endearing bother of your child liking your entrÃ©e more than theirs. And when you can’t have that, you fall back to a time when you did, and you look forward to the next time you can.
I visit this place through menus and cookbooks. For me, the food tells the story. The familiar scent, the coveted flavors, the setting full of colors, and the coincidence that really isn’t (how many places serve Egg in a Hole anymore, anyway?).
Sometimes when I think Dillon is slipping away to his teenage commitment to be as cool as possible, that he’s forgotten just how much he’s loved from a different geographical location, he’ll call our home and ask how I used to cook something. He’ll request “that thing you made us all the time,” or “the side dish I used to scarf down.”
I smile. Who needs the extra entrÃ©e now?
I pull out the sixth chair from our kitchen table with the phone in my hand, sit down, and say, coolly, “Wouldn’t you like to know?” I’ve got to make sure he still comes back to have it the way I made it.
“Come on. Tell me how to make the cucumber salad. Please?”
“Alright, get a pen.” I say to Dillon as I look at my husband, who registers this, and listens as I dictate the list of ingredients and share instructions, with that wishful energy traveling great distances, rooted in hunger and in memory.
For me, the food tells the story, and the menus, all of the menus I am lucky to have, could fill a book.