General Mills' All About Home Baking is one of my favorite "oldie but goodie" cook books. The copy I have is a 1940 softcover version. My Mom has the '33 hardcover 1st edition which is admittedly nicer, but I can't complain. Mine is a bit worn around the edges, but still has a sturdy binding and is a nice reference for basic biscuit and muffin recipes. It also offers a nice variety of recipes for cookies, cakes and other yummy desserts.
This past weekend, I was on the hunt for a fun new recipe to try. This urge comes and goes, but almost always sends me sinking into my favorite overstuffed chair - cup of tea in hand - surrounded by stacks of books, both old and new. I get lost in the pages of pictures and interesting recipes. It's a task that can sometimes take hours...when I have them to spare, of course.
I've looked through this particular little book time and again over the years, but was struck anew by a segment at the beginning of the slim volume: "It's a Wise Woman Who Knows Her Baking Rules". It's a nice little article that just gushes mid-century Americana. I can easily envision an apron-clad housewife carefully reading the following list.... and checking each item off as she goes along: Be orderly, Use good tools, Choose good ingredients, Measure accurately, Mix carefully, Know your pans and oven, and how to cool your cakes.
I can't help but also think how these items that "A Wise Woman" should know about the kitchen, could also be things she might be well served to know about LIFE...
1. Be orderly.
Who can argue with this? I can say with certainty that my own life would be easier if I could be a bit more organized. Who knows how productive I'd be if I would buckle down and straighten the linen closet or sort my art supplies...
2. Use good tools.
The "tools" that help me the most in life are those that help me manage my time: the Blues Clues calendar hanging on our kitchen wall, the daily organizer in my purse, and this computer which helps me manage my thoughts in blog form...
3. Choose good ingredients.
The "Good Ingredients" in my life are the people I hold dear. Without them, I would be an utter failure. I long to spend more time with my family. I feel that we should carefully choose our friends...pick those who are kind and loyal and thoughtful. These are the ones who will stand by us when we need them the most.
4. Measure accurately.
Everything in moderation. Nothing in excess. Have you ever put too much baking powder in a cake? Too much flour in your gravy? We all know what happens when the measurements are off. Nothing works as planned.
5. Mix carefully.
Life needs balance. We should consider what we are willing to spend our precious time doing, and who we should be doing it with. What's truly important to me? God, Dan, Willie, my Family, Friends, "Me" time...
6. Know your pans and oven, and how to cool your cakes.
or "Know my own limits, and how to calm myself if I get overheated!" Knowing how to "cool ones cakes" when they get too hot... now that is truly something every wise woman (and man and child) should learn to do! I know I sometimes struggle with keeping my cool (when Will used a red crayon on the marble mantle this weekend, for example...)
So if you ever get a chance, check out "All About Home Baking". It's a fun read filled with simple articles and recipes.... though not exactly the one I'm looking for at the moment. Hmmm what will it be?
I'm thinking PIE...