On Too Much Work Before My 2nd Cup of Coffee

Oh Lord, it’s Valentine’s Day, and I had good intentions of making banana bread from scratch. How long has it been since I made something from scratch? Evidently a pretty long time, since I could not find baking powder, baking soda, or salt in my kitchen cabinet. Curses!

I vaguely remember that John and I cleaned out said kitchen cabinet a couple of months ago, and I looked at the expiration date on the baking powder, and it was something like 2006. So we tossed it, as we did a few other items in the baking cabinet. John wanted to give my nut chopper (a glass jar with a screw-on plastic lid and pumper thingy attached to an evil metal blade), and I adamantly said no! I get much satisfaction from using that chopper, especially on days when I am mad or stressed out. (Surprised I haven’t used it lately!) I then placed the chopper in another cabinet, the one that we have to get down on all fours to retrieve items from the shelves. And promptly forgot about it.

Meanwhile, I went downstairs to our laundry room/pantry to get some applesauce (we use the kind in plastic cups at my insistence because I have bought too many jars that have grown penicillin in the fridge) to use in place of vegetable oil. And I got distracted for a moment because the load of laundry I had put in the washer was ready to be transferred to the dryer.

As I transferred the laundry to the dryer, I decided I’d better check the drying instructions on a couple of items, one of them a fuschia polka-dotted vest I ordered from Lands’ End in January when I was feeling a little hipsterish. I read on the tag: “Dry on low heat with clean tennis balls.” WHAT? Who keeps clean tennis balls around just to use for drying something in the dryer? I skipped that little instruction and decided to hang up the vest.

Then I started another load of laundry and almost forgot what I had come to the laundry room/pantry for in the first place. Blessedly, I remembered the applesauce before trekking back upstairs and starting where I left off in gathering items to make banana bread.

Next I tried to find the banana bread recipe in my huge plastic box of recipes that I have collected since moving to Nashville in 1980, probably about 70% of which I have never tried. But at least I’m organized enough to have most of the recipes on index cards (unlike my mother, who jotted down recipes on the backs of envelopes) and organized behind labeled tabs. Though that doesn’t make them very easy to find a certain recipe, as I vary about where I will file something. Hmmm, is artichoke dip a veggie or an appetizer? A veggie, in my opinion. 😀 Does zucchini bread qualify as a cake, cookies, or pie? Too many choices. But I digress (of course).

Now to find the nut chopper. I search through the spice cabinet, where I used to keep the chopper. I look through the cabinet where our baking dishes and mixing bowls are stored. In desperation I rummage through the pots and pans and miscellaneous lids so painstakingly stored on the vertical plastic-coated rack that John installed out of frustration from trying to find the right lids in the drawers of our buffet. (I hate that rack. I try to put lids in it the proper way but usually wind up throwing a few on top of the others because I’m tired.) No luck finding the nut chopper.

Not thinking very charitable thoughts about John on this day of hearts and flowers and mushy-mush, I text him (he’s in Orlando where he has been attending a swimming pool seminar…yeah, there’s a lot of work and chemistry involved in pool maintenance) and say, “Where did you put the nut chopper?” Surprisingly, he texts back right away and says, “It’s in the cabinet beside the dishwasher, but I didn’t put it there.” Oh yeah! And I was thinking some bad words in my mind about my no-good, organizing, ready-to-toss-out-my-favorite-stress-relief kitchen item husband…oops. My fault. Mea culpa!

And the next thing that happened was a little outside excursion to my next-door neighbor’s house to see if I could borrow some baking soda, baking powder, and salt. I went with measuring cup, cookbook (yes, that’s where the banana bread recipe was, not in my neat little plastic file box), and measuring spoons in hand to make it easy for them. I rang the doorbell (it was 8:45 a.m. by this time, and I’d been up since 7:00), but no one came to the door. Rang it again and heard the dog bark. No answer. I vaguely remember seeing one car gone as I walked across their driveway, so I decided that my neighbors Sue and Bruce must be gone and their 30ish daughter must be sleeping in. (She stays at their house when they’re out of town.) So across the street I tromped.

Knocked on those neighbors’ door, knowing they were probably awake because they have young children. No answer. Knocked again, then the dog barked. Soon a 7-year-old little girl looked out the front window as if wondering who the heck was knocking on the door. She relayed the message to her mom (probably said, “Hey, it’s that crazy lady from across the street!”), who soon opened the door. There we were, both of us disheveled (I in my fleece robe and barely combed hair, she in her flannel jammies and thermal top and hair twisted hastily in a bun). I said, “Do you have any baking soda, baking powder, and salt that I could borrow?” She invited me in while she went to get the ingredients from her kitchen. Warned me that I’d better turn around because her husband was in the shower and might come out naked (so I quickly turned my back toward the hall and stood gazing at the construction paper hearts hanging from strings taped to their kitchen ceiling). I explained, “It’s been a while since I made anything from scratch, and we just happened to be out of these ingredients.” She laughed and told me to come by anytime I needed to borrow stuff, that she did plenty of baking. I felt momentary jealousy, as she’s a stay-at-home mom and her two little girls are precious and I always fantasized about staying at home when my kids were young and baking things from scratch.

Back I went to the house, dug out my seldom-used hand mixer and actually found the beaters in another drawer, and satisfyingly mixed the batter for the banana bread (after microwaving some hardened brown sugar). Tossed in some craisins and chopped walnuts with my finally found nut chopper, and just for good measure threw in a little cinnamon.

I put the banana bread in the oven and wearily poured my second cup of coffee for the morning. Momentarily considered skipping it and going straight to the wine that I left on the kitchen counter last night, but it’s a little early in the day to be drinking. Besides, I have a lot of work to do before my valentine comes home tonight at 5:00 p.m. I may have to take a nap before then to rest up from my Holly Homemaker escapades.


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