My Mother’s Mixer

18 Jul

I love my  mom, but she was a terrible cook. It’s not really her fault – she grew up in a tiny town in New Hampshire, rather poor and practically in charge of parenting four siblings. That’s on top of going to school and working. She grew up on Salmon P. Wiggle (canned fish on top of saltines with a white sauce). Oatmeal. Maple “syrup” (water and sugar with maple extract). Canned peas, for cripes sake!

So it’s not surprising that this carried over into our home, where she was dealing with two kids and a very time-consuming teaching job. Creativity didn’t factor into her meals at all – though she did make sure we never, ever had to eat a canned vegetable (unless you count cream of mushroom soup). So, just about every week we had cube steak and mashed potatoes, tuna casserole (not too far from her mother’s Salmon P. Wiggle), some kind of oven-baked chicken and pork chops smothered in cream of something-or-other soup. On Sunday we might have London broil and broccoli with Velveeta. She only baked on birthdays, Thanksgiving and Christmas, and I’m still not terribly certain she enjoyed it.

And then, in 1993, like Moses coming down the mountain, so came the Food Network.

She.Loved.It.

She never quite got into Giada, but she did love Ina Garten. I’m not sure what it was that enraptured her so completely, but there it is. She had been pretty tentative about trying new recipes, and then she met these scones. I’m not sure what she loved more – the scones themselves, or the fact that we all loved them so much. When my dad gifted her a Kitchenaid one Christmas, it was on.

A few weeks ago I emailed my dad to see if he still had the mixer. He did have it, and he shipped it to me – along with every single attachment he could find (including things I still haven’t identified).

It’s beautiful.

I am so in love. I’ve been coveting one of these for at least a decade, while making do with weak little hand mixers.

I cleaned it all off and set it up, and then got started on my first dish: Ina Garten’s cranberry-orange scones.

I savored every last second, from the measuring of ingredients to just watching the paddle spin to the feeling of the dough in my hands, reliving all those moments with my mom in the kitchen, even after she had to do it from her zippy power chair.

The dough is so lovely and sticky – and we will all just ignore the fact that it contains 3/4 of a pound of butter (after all, there is fruit).

Aren’t they gorgeous? (I just said that to you in my Ina Garten voice.) They are so flaky, and buttery, and they have the tiniest crust of sugar on top. You should make them. My mom would love to compare notes someday.

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13 Responses to “My Mother’s Mixer”

  1. Jeremy Gradney July 18, 2012 at 7:28 pm #

    Looks delicious.

  2. Ally July 18, 2012 at 7:51 pm #

    This was a great post and a great tribute to your Mother. We didn’t have cable growing up, it was in 1993 that my cooking really took off. I didn’t discover Food Network until I was dating my now husband and we watched Good Eats. I sat there, enthralled by the information on muffins of all things!
    It was so interesting I stopped making out and starting watching *grins*
    Anyways, I will be trying the scones very soon. I LOVE scones with hot tea.
    I just made a batch of homemade creme fraiche, that should be done very soon, and would be excellent on a hot sexy scone.

    Cheers!
    Ally

    • Megan July 18, 2012 at 9:33 pm #

      thank you so much! i remember my first Good Eats epi – he made two or three different kinds of chocolate chip cookies. at the time, it was completely mindblowing!

  3. Lynn Alderidge July 18, 2012 at 9:48 pm #

    Great post, Megan, a really nice tribute to your mom. My mama was infatuated with Food Network as well (she swore Emeril was her man) and she and I both pined for Kitchen Aid mixer, especially during the holidays. I received one as an early Christmas gift the year she passed away and using it that holiday season really helped me through the heavy grief I was experiencing. I don’t think I would have made a single thing or even celebrated any of the holidays if weren’t for the fact that she LOVED them, especially Christmas, and I just had to use that damn mixer in her honor. Every time I fired it up I would talk to her like she as there helping me. It may sound crazy but it really helped me feel like she wasn’t just *gone*. I am glad your dad sent you that mixer and that you’re able to relive those memories of using it with your mom. ❤

    • Megan July 18, 2012 at 10:45 pm #

      oh, lynnie, thank you so much, that means so much to me. it really is like having her in the kitchen with me. sometimes i just go look at it, and talk to her.

      • Lynn July 19, 2012 at 12:28 am #

        I love that you do that too. It does help to have something tangible that keeps a sort of connection with them. I can’t wait to teach my nephew how to make his Grandma Sandy’s cookies when he is old enough and it will be with that mixer. If you look on Amazon at KitchenAid attachments maybe you can identify them. Oh and my mixer is also Cobalt Blue.

  4. Lucy July 18, 2012 at 10:35 pm #

    Looks good, and pretty machine!

    What are the attachments you can’t identify? I bet we can help!

    • Megan July 18, 2012 at 10:44 pm #

      i will have to take a picture! there is definitely a dough hook and a grinder. then there is something…weird. (but i could probably just google, huh?)

  5. Sandy July 19, 2012 at 6:29 am #

    I love, love, love this! So glad your dad sent the mixer – that’s a double gift. It was your mom’s and it’s a Kitchenaid. I’ve bookmarked Ina’s recipe. Thank you for sharing that memory – who knows how many people will influenced to do some baking this weekend!

  6. bibliomichelle July 21, 2012 at 7:02 pm #

    Aww, I love this! I totally want to try those scones, too. Your mom would be so happy for you. I have a friend who’s really big on making Christmas cookies every year because it helps her remember her mom.

    • Megan July 22, 2012 at 9:09 am #

      oh, thank you! the scones are seriously delish – and they really do help me to remember (not that she is ever forgotten)

  7. Anne July 23, 2012 at 7:46 pm #

    I agree with everyone–a great recipe and a wonderful tribute to your mom. I’m sure she’s smiling. I always look forward to your posts. You never disappoint!

  8. R Taylor September 27, 2012 at 4:41 am #

    Such a wonderful recipe. I do want to get one of those Kitchenaid mixers. Great post!

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