In The Last Supper Catering Company, there is a scene with B. Thankful and Little G, her grandma, who is near to calling an eternal time out. B. Thankful has just returned home after spending the day with the spirit of Big G (her great grandma who died seven years prior, but who has come back to help B. Thankful prepare a last supper for a loved one).
It was getting late by the time I got home from my day with Big G, and I found Daddy and Little G in full slumber exactly where I had left them. After I fixed them a simple supper of collard greens and cornbread, which they mostly just poked at, I tucked them into their beds and, as if they were my own children, told each a special story I made up just for them. When I was certain they were asleep, I went about my business in the kitchen with Big G. We had no more than started when Little G called out, “Who are you talking to?”
Big G gave me the hush signal, as if I might tell Little G her dead momma was visiting, and maybe she’d like to put on her chenille robe, come out, and chew the fat with her. I waved Big G off.
“Nobody, Little G. I’m just singing. Are you all right? Do you need anything?”
When she didn’t answer, I hurried down the hall. Frail as a baby bird, Little G was perched on the edge of her bed, her skinny legs dangling over the side. Little G stared down at the very close veins on her hands, and then into my eyes.
“You sure there’s nobody else in the house but your daddy?”
I didn’t think myself lying when I nodded my head. Really, there was no other body in the house.
“Have you checked in on your daddy?”
“Yes’m. The elixir you had me brew up last week took the edge off his pain, and his breath is rising and falling in a comfortable way. He’s sleeping soundly, like you should be.”
I really needed Little G to call it a day so I could get back to work, but you didn’t cut Little G short.
“I forgot to ask if you fed the chickens this morning. Did you milk Beautiful Beulah? If you forget, she’s gonna hold it against you and put you through udder stutter.”
Little G was right about that. If I forgot to milk Beautiful Beulah right on time, she punished me by making me work twice as hard. I’d nuzzle my head up against her side, and with an apologetic hand, I’d pull on her teats, but she’d only give up a drop, drop, drop into the milk bucket, then a short stream, and then back to drop, drop, drop. Udder stutter.
Before I could declare all the chores had been seen to, Little G kept right on. The urgency in her voice shoved each word up behind the other, crowding them together.
“Did you pick the fruit and vegetables that were ripe? You’ve got to stay on top of the garden, B. Thankful. If you’re mindless about it, your food supply will be spare in the winter months. And you’ll be mighty sorry come Christmas when you don’t have any spiced peaches to serve alongside gingerbread.”
I tried to make light of what Little G was saying, but I’m pretty sure my trembling voice gave me up as scared.
“Little G, I’ve taken care of everything. And, old lady, I expect you to get your tired butt out of this bed and can spiced peaches like you do every year. You and Daddy and I are gonna open them together come Christmas morning, like always.” That’s what I said, but in truth, I knew our house was lined with departure schedules, because my heart was as empty as the station they were leaving, and try as I might, I couldn’t pray it away.
We never know when we will sit with someone we love for the last time. Stay mindful in all things, but especially so when it comes to time, the most precious commodity of all.
- 2 cups unsweetened applesauce
- 1 cup unsulphured dark molasses
- 2 tsp. baking soda
- 3 cups unbleached flour
- 1/2 tsp. salt
- 2 tsp. powdered ginger
- 1-1/2 tsp. cinnamon
- 1/2 tsp. ground cloves
- 4 eggs
- 1-1/2 cups sugar
- 2/3 cup canola oil
- When you're ready, preheat your oven to 325 degrees.
- If you don't have any just picked-from-the-orchard apples to make applesauce, don't fret. You can use some of that store bought kind, but just make sure it's organic and unsweetened.
- Heat applesauce in a saucepan just to boiling.
- Remove from heat and stir in molasses and soda. Be careful, because when you add the soda, the mixture is going to bubble up like one of those grade school volcano projects. If you're not careful, you'll have more on the counter than in the pot and you'll have to start all over again. Yes, you will. Let the mixture cool while you get on with the next phase.
- I know you modern day folks don't think it's necessary to sift flour anymore, but I recommend you sift the flour with the salt and spices before you set it aside. See how pretty it looks.
- Break the eggs one at a time into a small bowl (this will keep any pesky shell pieces from getting into your batter) then transfer each into to a large bowl. Once all those eggs are side-by-side, their happy yellow faces smiling up at you, use your electric mixer and beat them until they're light in color.
- Gradually add the sugar and continue beating until thick and lemony in color.
- Turn your mixer to low (or you'll be sorry) and slowly beat in the oil.
- Alternately add the flour and applesauce mixture, scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed to incorporate all that goodness.
- Pour into a buttered and floured 10-inch tube pan. Now, ovens are like people: no two are alike, and you know your oven's mood, but it should take approximately 1 hour and 15 minutes for heaven to rise in your oven. Did you know you can tell when a cake is nearing perfection when its lovely fragrance pushes up against the oven door and out into the kitchen? That being said, I still check mine with a toothpick, and it better come out clean. However long it takes, once you pull your gingerbread cake from the oven, let it cool cake in the pan 20-30 minutes.
- Time is up! Run a spatula around the edges, and then invert cake onto a cooling rack or the plate from which it will be served. Don't go shaking it like an old dust mop, or you'll hurt its feelings and most of it will stay hidden in the pan.
- Best served slightly warm, but just as good cold (if you can wait). A simple dusting of powdered sugar is all you need. Go on, take a bite. See, I told you.
Where to Next
Dec. 1: S. Stein Writing
Dec. 8: ~ Books, Brownies and Barkers
This tour wouldn't be complete without a lovely giveaway, and just in time for Christmas too! To win a $10 Amazon voucher just follow the link. Good luck!
Bex 'n' Books wishes to thank Books, Brownies and Barkers for organising this tour and of course the lovely author, Michaelene McElroy for stopping by!