Monday, March 3, 2014

Bake-Off Femme Fatale

Almost every Tuesday I bake.  It’s become “my thing.”  One, HoneyBunch has a sweet tooth, and two, his all-male, barbershop choir meets on Tuesday nights, and they ask members to contribute to “the coffee break” that is held halfway through their practice.

The average member is in his 80’s, so a vast majority of them are widowed.  Some of those who still have wives live on restricted diets or at the mercy of the food at their assisted living homes. All the men look forward to the coffee break more than they care about getting their four-part harmony in sync.

At first, HB would stop at a grocery store on his way to the choir practice and buy a package of cheap cookies, but then I started doubling a recipe while baking for the home and he took a home-baked good as his contribution.

Over time the men have come to expect it.  HB says a welcome committee greets him upon arrival to see what I have sent.  They measure their Tuesday night practice on the promise of the upcoming coffee break. It reminds the single or widowed oldsters of home, when their moms or wives used to bake for them.  It gives those on strict diets or institutional meals a reprieve. 

I have had two marriage proposals (no joke!) and HB had to fend off an angry Tenor who wanted to know what made him so special (as if given a choice I would dump HB for Mr. Grumpy)!

I don’t always have time or patience to make something for Tuesday night.  On those rare occasions, HB might as well have stayed home.  He comes home with complaints and lamentations.

It gets expensive and sometime I don’t want to run to the store to get the ingredients needed to make a yummy, so on those days I throw together whatever I have on hand.  I have made countless versions of bread pudding with nothing more than frozen stale bread and a can of Carnation milk. To flavor it, I might add a handful of toasted pecans, maybe a few old chocolate chips, or some cinnamon sugar, and – voila – I am the bake-off queen.

At the once-a-year Barbershoppers’ get-together, strange men have introduced themselves.  They go on and on about “those powdered sugar cookies that melt in your mouth,” or the “miniature pigs-in-a-blanket that caused a riot.”  Were those “cranberries or dried cherries in that one strudel-like thing I made last November?”

They wink at me, grin. “Could I please make that again?”

HoneyBunch bodyguards me, rescuing me from my ravenous fans. I try to understand their need. They want me for only one thing – my baking.

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