Saturday, January 26, 2013

Bisquick, Stew & Brownies: The Art Of Creation

I live in a very digital world. Texting, email, Twitter and Facebook - along with Flipboard and OmniFocus online and Evernote and Hulu. I read more TIME magazine content online now than I do with the hard copy that comes in my mailbox every Saturday.

I get my news online, I communicate online.

I think I manage it well.

Or at least I thought I did.

To be honest, I think there was a time - not too long ago - when I did manage all these communication tools fairly easily. I multi-tasked, often all day long, and it worked.

But lately, not so much.

Okay, honestly? Not at all.

I forget more things than I remember. I have so many lists and plans and ideas and services and appointments in my head and on my various organizational tools that I live in some sort of vague, chaotic swirl. I get by just fine; I function, I show up, things get done...but I'm forgetting way too much content.

So all of you who said it's not possible to multi-task effectively? Well, I think you were wrong about me a few years ago.

But now? I think you're right.
What did they call this?
Tonight, dinner was a delicious pot of beef stew - cooked from scratch yesterday. No seasoning packets, no recipe; just browned meat and onions and garlic in a splash of olive oil, bits and pieces of seasonings - salt, pepper, red pepper, maybe something else (I DON'T REMEMBER!), then potatoes in generous hunks, skin still on. Carrots - the old-fashioned kind that come long and pointed and need peeling - chunked with my old Pampered Chef Crinkle Cutter thing (which used to have some other name, didn't it? Anybody remember what they called it in the 90's?) and celery, trimmed in tiny U-shaped bits of crunch. I created this meal, putting together ingredients that I know from experience will work together, trying a few new bits and pieces, judging the timing by eye and smell.

David came in to help make biscuits; not the delicious, frozen ones that Pillsbury has perfected, but the sticky mess you get mixing Bisquick and milk. Biscuits that come out ragged, with jagged edges and uneven browning, created with quirky personalities, big and small and every size in between, rolled between my thirteen-year-old's freshly washed hands that seem ten years bigger than they ought to be.

And brownies - this recipe, new to me, courtesy of my friend Brandee - no mix, no easy add-eggs-oil-and-water package, but assemble-all-the-ingredients-yourself work, digging out the butter and sugar and flour and baking powder and eggs and cocoa from the cupboards and whipping it all together to create chocolate.

And over it all, the voice of Garrison Keillor and his troupe of Prairie Home Companion actors and musicians. I think there is something so unique and beautiful about these stories and songs that have shaped my Saturday nights for years; the Lutheran love for Jesus mixed with a sly liberal leaning, stories that have history and private jokes and the rich, sonorous tone of this voice that strikes my ear and reminds me of something about my life that I too often forget.

The confidence I carry in my kitchen, focused on preparing food for the ones I love, is matched only by the comfort I feel sitting in front of my piano. These acts of creation are vibrant and wholly, completely tangible; they exist. I listen to stories and songs and move, timing my turns in the triangle between counter, oven and sink, and I make things.

The simplicity of this thing that brings me such joy, leaving me so content - it is speaking to me.

This is you.

Not Twitter or Facebook or email; not even blogging, not planning and uploading this and downloading that. That is not me.

This, here, now. Home. Simple acts of creation and love. A meal shared across a table with others who slog through the same hours. Hands held. Stories told.

Funny, the things you learn when you take a minute to listen.


annie said...

Beautiful, as always. Makes me think of how peaceful it is washing dishes by hand at our little place in the country...

Isn't that funny, a word at the end of the thing you do to prove you're not a robot: MAKE.

Lindsay Durrenberger said...

needed to read this. too often i get caught up in what i'm doing, rather than what i AM.

The Dude said...

Amen. No, scratch that. Double Amen. :) #Simplicity_is_beautiful