Mary Jane Crullers
October 8, 2011 by annablakegodbout | Edit
A couple of weeks ago when September rolled into October, I was reading an article in Yankee magazine about the sights and sounds of autumn. One recipe that caught my eye was one for Apple Cider Donuts. Instantly I thought of my grandmother’s kitchen when she pulled out her ingredients for her Mary Jane Crullers. When I was young, Nana taught me the wonders of baking from family recipes safeguarded inside an old and dented tin since the 1920′s. Mary Jane Crullers became a gift of love and memories. Her recipe dates back to June 18, 1936. In the autumn before I married in June 1974, my grandmother’s much loved recipe card became mine for my personal collection.
With all the cooking shows, internet cookbooks and quick gathering of information, I decided to check out crullers online to find out if they were, as I knew them to be. The ingredients were simple enough: butter, flour, sugar, eggs, milk baking powder and fat for frying. Even the Food Network’s Alton Brown has his influence on them- minus my grandmother’s homemade instructions and her gut instinct with tried and accurate baking methods.
Mary Jane Crullers brings me back to standing on a wooden rail chair, a dented metal mixing bowl, an outdated Kitchen Aid mixer, her flour sifter with the red wooden handle and brown paper bags cut wide open spotted with dark oil puddles, and finally a treasured wooden spoon. Nana’s recipe cards printed with “From the Kitchen of Cora Godbout” at the top with ingredients listed on the left side. She always used the word “Procedure” on the right side. Simple straightforward steps that got the job done; no designer this or that, no polished stainless steel must haves and no high tech getting in the way. Only a wooden spoon, a metal bowl and brown paper bags were put to use.
. From 1936-to 2010, and all the autumns in between, the smell of cinnamon and and fried twisted dough draining on brown paper is never lost, never gone. On the back of Cora’s recipe card, I wrote: “Made for the first time as a newly married wife on September 28, 1974 in Augusta, Georgia.”
An excerpt from my poem “Dusted by Time” joins my cooking passion with Nana’s loving guidance. Food Network and Alton Brown cannot express such voices and “procedures”- those treasured for always in an old tin box of memories:
“Made of black tin now dented, battered and scarred,
A box of memories calls out to me
I have missed them,
I have missed them all.”
There is a freeze warning out for tonight; the red geraniums must come inside.. They will come into a kitchen where a mother teaching her oldest son a great-grandmother’s legacy. One rule will be that no computer or Food Network will be within range of a wooden spoon, a metal bowl, the flour sifter and of course, the brown paper bags for draining the fat.
One of the main reasons why I started this “blog”-(I am not a fan of the word ‘blog’) was to help my mind declutter and crack through a writer’s wall that has been plaguing me for months and months. And so with the help of my photography, my dear friends in my writer’s group-who by the way are going through the same thing-and wanting to get my momentum back, a suggestion to write haiku poems came my way. I snuffed at the thought at first…mainly because I have taught haiku to my students for many years. Teaching haiku, counting beats and trying to take words to make them into poems in this way reminds me of the required poetry books that teachers make kids to with 10 different kinds of poems. I have seen this over and over again as students dread writing, dread poetry and even more so dread getting it all done. Recently one October afternoon three of us sat a Panera Bread with tablets and pens, computer and mouse and drinks. We mulled over how do we write again ideas, fears of not writing again, along with just try something ideas. I pulled up my recent photos from a trek to Colorado’s high country of stunning aspen gold surrounded by brilliant sunshine and that Rocky Mountain High blue. I wrote 4 long descriptive sentences in which I was trying to say too much. I cut out use less words and it was looking hopeful. Doris suggested why don’t I write a haiku and I groaned based upon those reasons I talked about above. What I came up with is not great, but not bad either…I love new beginnings….
Crisp sunlight paints
aspen gold into
cloisters of singing color.
Autumn river rushes
over boulder and wood
towards winter’s death.
This is the first entry of my rambling thoughts…something that has been long in my mind to do. I settle here at the pine table table with the lamp on a evolving gray day in autumn. Not far from me two sons are creating quite a breakfast feast, our two cats are looking out the window while grabbing the last of the morning sun. A mug of coffee gets sniffed by one of them as they stroll across my table on their way to a soft warm spot to sleep, sounds of a football game coming from the living room adds to our family’s Sunday morning’s sounds.
It has taken a long time for autumn to actually arrive-it finally did two nights ago when the chill in the house stayed until midday. It has been quite warm this year-even the fall colors in 80 degree sunshine seemed out of place. But now it is coming and the winds have stirred. Aspen gold has come and soon to be gone-carpeting the yellow green grass. The apples have begun to drop, and what has not been eaten by the deer will be picked up and tasted for possibilities. Our farmers markets are now gone; the wind whips at their stalls from across the lake as they pack up their season-saying “so long” to them..never a good bye. They will be back in the spring green and warm sun.
And so I am on my way to autumn as an excerpt from my poem below suggests. Each year it seems a different way is created unlike the previous year:
“On my way to autumn,
I hear echoes of carefree music and joyous breath
still dancing on our weathered and wind drifted beach,
and into the first brush of winter’s coming.”
I write free verse only; I am partial to the flow of eloquent and rich language. I cannot rhyme or do metered poetry or sonnets-it reminds me of teaching language arts daily to my students at school. I do not care for writing prompts set up by someone else’s idea of what a writing subject should be. My writing “prompts” come from observing details of the world around me, what I am seeing in the moment, what I am feeling or what I have remembered from an experience in my life. As an example, in the poem The Wedding Ring Quilt, there is a direct relationship between my words and my writing what I have experienced…not exactly the typical writer’s mantra of “write what you know”:
THE WEDDING RING QUILT
This morning, the first snow of spring
kept falling like a curtain of lace across the mountains,
spilling remnants of winter
down into the stunted pine brushed valley.
“I hope it snows six feet,” I said.
Warm, weathered hands
gathered our wedding ring quilt
around the curve of me,
knowing the soft why of my words.
Le petit lapin espiègle à la veste bleue vous a toujours séduit par ses facéties et vous souhaitez en savoir plus sur celle qui lui a donné vie, ce blog vous ouvre la porte du monde fascinant de Beatrix Potter
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