Monday, May 28, 2012

Field of Dreams, Table of Memories

In Kevin Costner's movie, 'Field of Dreams,' his character of an Iowa corn farmer, Ray, is haunted by a voice telling him "If you build it, he will come."
The 'it' we come to learn is a baseball field and the 'he' turns out to be his deceased father, a former NY Yankees catcher from whom he was estranged; never having reconciled before his father's death. 
The baseball field he builds to the disbelief of family and fellow farmers becomes, one night, the home field for baseball greats like Shoeless Joe Jackson, Mel Ott and eventually, a kid named Moonlight Graham.  Problem is: no one sees the players but Ray. 
That is until, his young daughter sees the men one night, shares her daddy's vision and puts her voice to his dreams...

Siobhan was being her usual fussy, 'I need a drink of water'-self one night at bedtime.  As I tucked her in for the umpteenth time, I asked her what she'd like for breakfast the next morning.  Almost five years old, she still hangs on to the last vestiges of an endearing lisp, asking,
"Dad, what are thosth white thingsth that we put butter and jam on?"
"Oh, you mean 'biscuits'?" I asked.
"YESTH, Daddy!  I want bisth-kitsth in the morning-time!"

I told her that she would have a warm biscuit in the morning, but, she had to go to sleep first.
She flopped over immediately and was not to be heard from until 6:30 the next morning. 
If only Life were that easy EVERY night!

The next morning, I grab some biscuit mix, add water and roll out a 1" layer of luvin.'  A single egg yolk with 2 Tbs of water are mixed and brushed on the top of each biscuit before entering a 400 degree oven.  We are a jam-friendly family, so, the top shelf of the fridge usually maintains 3-5 jars of assorted jams and jellies, all home made, some from our kitchen, and others from friends.  I see them as snap-shots of a growing season; an instant in time that you can actually taste. 
Three jars are grabbed along with the butter and placed on the table.  I like the butter to soften a bit for the kids to spread. 
Bodies begin to drag through the house, bookbags and lunch boxes are filled.  As the biscuits are pulled from the oven, a noticable hastening in steps occurs towards the kitchen table. 
"We-eh-eh-ell," I chide them, "seems there IS life at 7 o'clock in the morning!" dad wasn't much of a cook, but, I vividly recall his biscuits on a Sunday morning which he rolled out on an over-floured, wooden cutting board.  He would whistle, crack jokes for a captive audience and usually ended up with flour half-way up his forearms.  The perfectly powdered cylinders, punched out with a drinking glass were soon to be golden gems worthy of any zealous labors.  They baked in the enameled, cast iron Wedgewood of 1920s vintage with four gas burners and two for wood. 
Mom's home made apricot jam was nothing short of brilliant. The skins were strained out during the processing, leaving a perfectly bound mixture of fruit, sugar and pectin that spread like buttercream frosting. It achieved divinity when melded with a slab of salted butter pooling in the center of Dad's biscuits...

Brendan is the first to pull apart his biscuit, guiding his head over the plate and inhaling the healing vapors of baked buttermilk dough.
"Ahhh...this is SO flippin' sweet," he whispers.

Our Chinese exchange student slides into his chair and finding the natural separation, splits his biscuit in two, covering it in butter and cranberry jelly.  It took him a few tries, but, he learned that a knife on a warm biscuit is like using a wrecking ball to open a door.  It'll get the job done, but, the collateral damage is heartbreaking.  Sherds of biscuit debris do not a happy cook make. 

Bonnie-Belle has assumed her seat at the table next to Qing-Shi (ching-shuh); she is bouncing in her chair, she is so excited. 
"Daddy, do mine, do MINE!" she pleads.
I crack her warm biscuit open and lay it on her plate.  She asks for butter, then says, 'pleeese-uh' as I slice a curl for each half.  Siobhan grins at me while rubbing the butter into one half, challenging me to correct her use of fingers on food.  
"Look at the thh-steam, daddy," she instructs me, "it's-th melting the butter!"
The wonder of heat transfer and other displays of physics are thankfully never lost on kids.

Bonnie proceeds to pass on any jam, insisting she just likes butter.  Good wee lass.
She takes a bite, leaving crumbs on her upper lip, and sets the half back on her plate.

"How's your biscuit, babygirl?" I ask.  Siobhan follows with her cheeky grin,

"Dad, thith ith Heaven!"

There we have another generation of true believers, kids able to see the beauty in a morsel of food that costs a nickel to make.  With us is a Chinese kid, who will never forget sitting down with his American family, eating baked dough with sweet, cooked fruit and butter.

Here lives a girl who hasn't yet seen 'Field of Dreams', but, is building her 'Table of Memories' one simple meal at a time.

Take care, God bless and remember:
"Food, Faith, Family and Friends,
the Best Things in Life aren't Things."

chef bq.


Big Joanie said...

Made me hungry! And why are you calling her 'Bonnie' and not 'Little Joanie'????
Love, Big Joanie
P.S. I will see you tomorrow am at 7. Keep the biscuits hot pleassse-uh!

someone said...

Oh man, I want a bisthcut.