Monday, September 22, 2008

Brown Bread

Oh but it was good on
Sunday mornings with baked beans and fish balls;
hot and slathered with butter, not baked but steamed:
Boston brown bread. I'm thinking of it now because I just had
probably my last bite of white sliced bread - one peanut-
butter-and-jelly sandwich too many, alas. I do like a
midnight snack but I will have to find another kind, this
polished bread won't do. We had brown bread with
raisins and brown bread without raisins, both
heaven-sent, fresh out of the oven where they'd been
steaming overnight. As a child in my
grandfather's house I never thought about the
laboring housekeeper, up before we were just to
feed us, up and then down two flights of stairs, the
back stairs too, dim and narrow. Deaf Elizabeth Cronk, who got
a weekly newspaper from her home in Canada that had
amazing funny papers we were allowed to read when she
was through with her paper - Maggie and Jiggs, Mutt and Jeff, -
and the best, The Toonerville Trolley. Up on the third floor where
Elizabeth lived when she had a chance to live (her
afternoon break and Thursdays off) was the room that had been
my father's and uncle's playroom, with
Gibson Girls on the walls and The Hardy Boys in the
book case. Other books too - there was The Sun
Also Rises. And the Guest Room, where the
treadle sewing machine was kept on which I made -
what did I make? A blouse, and a dotted-swiss evening gown,
and I think a dirndl skirt. Elizabeth would put the
brown bread in the oven to steam on Saturday night, and
she knew how to bank the fire in the wood-burning
oven. Later we got another stove, an
electric one, but still the brown bread was steamed in the
old one. Oh if I ever get a kitchen again I'll bake Boston
Baked Beans and steam Boston Brown Bread but I won't
try to deep-fry cod-fish balls - too scary. Maybe I can buy
ready-made fish balls and heat them up. Or make fish-and-
potato patties and fry them in a spider. But of course, I'll
never have a kitchen again, not one of my own, cooking
is dangerous to me. I'll just have to

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