Thursday, January 21, 2010

The Butter On My Bread

I wrote this post, FAMILY WREATH,  last year about how my family tree is more of a wreath than a tree. It gives a little insight into my family and how we are well how you might say tied together. Now I know this weeks Themed Thursday post is Bread and trust me I’ll get there but first you must travel a little with me.

It was the depression and things were at their worst. Effie took a job in a diner cooking. This was not a difficult task for her because she was an excellent cook and she enjoyed it. Effie grabbed the pans from the oven and slid them onto the table. She had been making rolls all morning long. The smell of fresh bread permeated throughout the little house. It was about time for Bill to be home but he was no where to be seen. He had promised to get the boys from school. She knew that being a truck driver wasn’t an easy job, it took him away from home and hearth much too often. She knew he drove over pitted and potted highways over hills and through small towns delivering goods to restaurants and grocers across central Texas. Spring would always have its perils with the floods and winter with ice, summer would cause an engine to overheat and fall was totally unpredictable just like her husband, Bill.

Hazel down at the diner envied Effie’s bread making skills. She lusted after her dinner roll recipe and would commit murder for her angel flake biscuit recipe. The depression was tough on all of them and yet Effie seemed to always have fresh baked bread and plenty of jam put up. Hazel was not very domestic, oh she could get around a kitchen alright but she just wasn’t up to Effie’s standard. She preferred store bought jam to putting up her own. She would rather eat at the diner and her family to fend for themselves. She did however have an awful cute figure and big blue eyes that mesmerized most men and always smelled of Evening in Paris toilet water. Yes Hazel had a way about her. The way she saw it she didn’t have to cook she had other talents.

Effie cut out another two dozen rolls and buttered up her pan. She danced around the kitchen like a ballerina. She was glad Bill was getting the boys so she could finish putting her sauerkraut in the crock and she could get the hen ready to roast. She stopped just as she put another pan full of dough into the hot oven, something was wrong. She felt it in the pit of her stomach. The hair stood up on the nape of her neck and she knew without a doubt she knew. She set the dough on the counter turned the oven off and headed up to the school, she knew Bill wasn’t going to get them and he had never intended to. She walked up the street and past the diner. She glanced in the window of where she spent most of her time. She saw that Percy was cooking today. She waved a little wave and plodded on past the diner not really registering the men sitting at the counter ogling Hazel.

Effie shooed the boys outside and relit the oven. She looked at the rolls that had doubled in size, sighed and slid them in the oven hoping they wouldn’t be too rubbery. She swept the flour from around the table and wiped up the melted butter. The telephone rang, once, then twice signaling that it was her ring on the party line. Effie picked up the phone and said hello. “Um…who’s this” asked the voice on the other end of the line. “Well you tell me, you called me” Effie retorted. “Effie? Is that YOU” the voice inquired. “Yep it’s me who are you?” There was a pause and then “it’s Hazel. You know down at the diner. I was trying to fix me up some of those rolls you are so good at making for my new beau and I was wonderin if you would share your recipe with me.” Effie sighed and picked a little piece of dough from her bread board “I guess, I mean if’n you think it will get you hitched I’ll help.” Effie could hear the smile on Hazel’s face through the phone. Effie didn’t give her recipe out to just anyone. “Oh! Thank you Eff I’ll get it from you tomorrow at the diner. Okay?”

Gladys found the recipe when she was fifteen. She began making the rolls and breads from the recipe every couple of weeks. She fumbled her way through learning the way the dough should feel, smell and look. She practiced over and over again using the recipe she had found written on an old envelope. After ten years of baking she knew how to get the yeast to activate and how honey gave the rolls a little bit deeper flavor than sugar. She also knew the secret of rolling her freshly baked bread in sugar to give it a bit of a glaze.

Gladys was twenty-five and scheduled for major surgery. Her Grandfather’s new widow was going to come help take care of her and Tadpole. She had been Gladys’ Great-uncle Bill’s first wife and her grandfather’s third wife. She was a pip at eighty-two still cooked, cleaned and could mow her own yard faster than most teenage boys could get the mower started. Gladys was thrilled Effie would be taking care of her especially since she was such a wonderful cook. She had been having visions of homemade sauerkraut and double dipped chicken fried steak. Her mouth watered at the thought of Granny Effie’s homemade cinnamon rolls and angel flake biscuits. Yes she would be well fed during her convalescence.

Gladys was on the chaise on the patio, Granny Effie was in the kitchen when she heard “Oh My lands!” The patio door flew open and out flew Effie. “Sakes alive child where did you find this old thing” she asked waving a weathered and stained slip of paper. Gladys squinted and tried to see what her step-grandmother was waving around in the bright September sunshine. Effie rushed over to the seat and adjusted Gladys’ pillows. She held the worn envelope in front of her and said “I swan I thought this was gone forever.” Gladys looked at the ancient paper with the formula for the best bread she had ever made scratched in weathered and fading ink. “I don’t know it was in that old Betty Crocker Cookbook. It was just stuck between the pages” Gladys said in between cheeps and chirps from Effie. Effie stopped fluttering and sat down “a Betty Crocker cookbook? Did it have notes in the sides?” Gladys stopped and thought for a moment “yeah, I don’t know where it came from. I think it was my grandmother’s book.” Effie put her head in her hands and then looked up “Lans sakes I forgot that I had borrowed May’s cookbook. Well that makes sense now.”

Effie hung up the phone she looked around her modest little kitchen. On the counter next to the bread box was an envelope. She picked up her fountain pen and began to write out her recipe. She blew on the paper waiting for the ink to dry when Bill walked in the door. “Hi, hun” he sighed as he eased in the door. Effie got up to give her man a kiss when the smell overtook her. She backed away and sat down. Once again she felt that feeling in her gut and once again the hair stood up on the nape of her neck and she knew. She knew without a doubt.

She went to the phone and asked the operator to be connected. “This is Hazel” came the voice through the wire. “You low down two timing no good floozy! You’re not getting my recipe. You can have that no good piece of shit of a husband of mine but you can’t have my recipe” Effie exclaimed. Hazel sat quiet for a moment and then said “but he is the butter on my bread.” Effie snorted and retorted “yeah well he’s the shit on my shoe.”


lagirl/sweet tea said...

What a "colorful" wreath you are! LOL

NellJean said...

It took only a moment for the fact to register that the sh!t on Effie's shoe smelled like Evening in Paris toilet water.

Kris said...

I can see that.

Stephanie said...

Leave it to the nose. Good post.

croneandbearit said...

after reading this my bread may never taste or smell the same. LOL You are amazing.

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