It was a long time ago…sixty years ago, in fact, when I married( the first time). It feels as though it was in another lifetime, but occasionally there is something..a momento that takes me back in time to that little village in Maine and the lovely people. One of my most cherished gifts was a recipe box filled with wonderful recipes for everything imaginable and they were all hand written and signed by the ladies of Locke Mills, Maine.
Over the years and sometimes bumpy road that’s been my life, the recipe box moved with me and now and then, I’d pull out a recipe, see the name and sigh because that lady was no longer with us, but her contribution lived on.
And so it was this morning when the urge and , yes, need arose for me to bake. I have so many cookbooks that I am ashamed to admit I could have a library of those alone. There are stacks of printed recipes from the internet. Yet, I dragged out the little box and started going through them. That is when I spotted my Gram’s handwriting. A blueberry cake! Hmm. Very neatly on the back was written in beautiful script “Nellie Martin”.
There was Gram reaching as far as she could to get the last berry from the high wild blueberry bushes. On her kitchen counter was a big bowl of blueberries my Uncle Louis had brought home from his week of logging on Overset Mountain. She gathered all the ingredients on her kitchen table and began. Four cups of flour she sifted with cream of tartar and baking soda. I looked at the “four cups of flour” and thought …boy, that’s a lot of flour. It was then I noticed on the back at the bottom of the recipe was this admonishment “This makes a very big cake..” Gram was still instructing me after all these years.
Gram went to the shed and brought in an armful of wood to stoke up the fire, her little blue sneakers just a humming over the kitchen floor. When the stove began to heat, she pushed her tiny black rimmed glasses up on her nose and said, “now stay there”.
So I labored on, recipe propped high. The four cups of flour, the cup of “sweet” milk, the cup of sugar( sugar must have been very dear as that did not seem like a lot of sugar in proportion to the other ingredients). Take the pint of blueberries and roll them around in the flour and dry goods. Well, Gram, all I had was a bag of frozen blueberries, so forgive me. If the cake looks horrid, no one will know but you and me and the squirrels will love it. Maybe.
Everything mixed together and looking good. That is a lot of dough and as my Kitchen Aide whirled it around, I wondered aloud how Grammie ever mixed that by hand. I found the biggest cake pan in the house and pushed it in and leveled it off. Whoa! Wait! There is no oven temperature or time. Hmm. What to do?
I remembered the gauge on Gram’s wood stove and when the needle pointed straight up, she always plopped her cookies or cakes in. That needle might have meant about 350 degrees. As for the time, that would be any one’s guess…at least I had a window to peek in the oven.
I peeked and I peeked some more. 35 minutes later, out came the cake…slightly brown and I drove a toothpick down the middle of this massive project. Came out slick as a whistle.
Now that cake is a masterpiece, Gram. It is on the kitchen counter and yes, I sneaked a corner piece before it cooled. That is some good. Not as good as yours because you were smiling and filled it with lots of love before you chucked it in the oven.
It was great spending the morning with you, Gram.