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Baking. It’s in the Genes.

What’s that quote that starts, “The best laid plans…”?  No matter.  The last month’s “plans” simply had to be deferred to deal with more mundane chores (like replacing flat tires unexpectedly) and higher priority family matters.  This past week has been far less eventful, and fingers crossed, I can get to those “plans” now.

Yesterday, I indulged in a bit of baking therapy (although I don’t consider the post-baking-palooza kitchen clean-up very therapeutic :/ ).  My poor pup has been very patient, so she deserved some tasty treats.  Her tail’s waggin’ so fast, it’s a blur.

Then, I had all those frozen blackberries taking up freezer space.  Apparently, I was a wee bit over-ambitious when picking berries last summer.  Today’s my mom’s birthday (Happy Birthday Mom!), so I made this blackberry buttermilk bundt cake, and it was just like summer in my mouth.

The cake texture is very much like a pound cake, and the orange glaze keeps it very moist, as well as complementing the blackberry fruit nicely.  If you make this cake, don’t skip the glaze.

While visiting with my parents, my Dad shared a treasure brought back from Mississippi.  My great-grandmother, whom I knew only as “Mama Mabel” when she was living, had kept a daily journal, dating from 1951 to 1973.  Twenty years of short, handwritten entries had been transcribed by family, and was now in a single bound book.

Twenty years of a farming family’s life in rural, central Mississippi documented in entries such as:  May 21, 1959, “Picked a mess of beans.”  May 22, 1959, “Sold hogs.”  May 23, 1959, “Tied up tomatoes. Set out plants.”, along with some notations about the weather.  After a few days of rain, May 28, 1959 was “a pretty day” to “cut grass on yard.”  I’m not sure why it surprised me to find an entry about astronauts orbiting the earth among the notations about putting up beans and pulling corn.  Even in rural Mississippi globally significant events, such as the first men in orbit, warranted an entry.

The book contained only two pages with samples of Mama Mabel’s handwritten entries.  The rest of her journal entries appeared on typed pages.   While leafing through some of the pages, I learned that my very first New Year’s Eve was spent in Mississippi, through a notation on December 30, 1964, where Mama Mabel noted a visit with my dad “and family”.  I found references to  names I didn’t recognize, and a few I did.  May 25, 1962:  “Went to Annie L’s.  Worked with cows.”

“Annie L” was my grandmother, Annie Laura.  I have no doubt that my genetic material contains a dominant baking gene, passed on through Miss Annie Laura.  I’m not sure what year this picture was taken, but I know that pie you can barely see, near the lower right edge, is the reason my Dad can never resist a slice of pecan pie.

Miss Annie Laura passed away earlier this month, just about 40 days short of her 101st birthday.  Her mother, Mama Mabel, lived well into her nineties.  So, I’m hoping that some of that longevity means I’ve many, many more baking years ahead of me… because there’s always something wonderful to bake for those you love.

January 15, 2012 – Baked blackberry cake for Mom’s birthday tomorrow & dog cookies for Josie.  Sunny day, but cool.

January 16, 2012 – Visited with Mom & Dad.  Read parts of Mama Mabel’s journal.  Part cloudy, cool, priceless day.

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