Friday, August 07, 2009
Why Farm Girls Can Cook
People always seem surprised to learn that I can cook. I'm not sure why. Because I live in a house with a bare concrete floor and unpainted plywood walls? Or is it my tendency to avoid the vacuum cleaner until the carpet starts to crunch underfoot? Maybe because my husband and I didn't purchase a mutual piece of furniture until we'd been married for ten years. (Yes, it was a couch. With a recliner on each end. Priorities firmly in place here.) Whatever the reason, I fail to see the connection between lack of general domesticity and the production of food. I love food. I like to cook it, and I especially love to eat it. In fact, I love eating even more than I hate to sweat, which accounts for what I laughably call a fitness plan. I crave baked goods: pies, pastries, cookies, and cakes. When the nearest bakery is an hour's drive away, you're either going to suffer in vain or whip up something to satisfy your own sweet tooth. But that isn't why I learned to cook. There are four children in my family. Three girls and a lone, spoiled boy bringing up the rear. I am second in line. My brother is eight and a half years younger than me, and was practically useless around the ranch until he finally hit second grade. Which left us girls. Cows and crops are the original equal opportunity employers. They could care less whether the person on board the tractor is male or female. Neither did my dad. In lieu of sons, he made ranch hands out of his daughters. I'm not complaining. I've always loved the outdoors and animals. Farming, well, I believe I made opinion on that subject clear in an earlier post. So when it came time to plow or combine or bale, I started looking for a way out, pronto. I found the magic portal in the kitchen. "Well, gee, Dad, I'd love to go out and summer fallow the north forty, but this bread dough's got another hour to rise, and then I have to bake it, and then I thought I'd whip up an apple pie. But if you'd rather I went out and farmed…" Worked every time. Unless my older sister beat me to the kitchen, but I'm bigger than her, although she does throw a sneaky left hook. Oddly enough, my mother seemed to prefer hours alone on the tractor to hanging about the house with her darling children. Baffling woman. So I learned to cook in self defense, and at some point it turned into a passion. Which explains why I got up this morning and, after a quick chat with my dad, decided to make a rather labor-intensive lunch, complete with homemade bread. Then I followed up with a batch of caramel rolls for tomorrow's breakfast. What's that you say? Why, no. Whatever made you think my sudden burst of culinary activity had anything to do with my dad's declaration that it looked like a good day to pound fence posts?