Fat Daddy’s

Fat Daddy’s is the name of my daughters’ mythic bakery.  It is equally as real as The Stuttering Raven, and the girls conjure it from S’s kitchen space when they tie their aprons on.  Their magic wands?  An egg-frothed whisk, or a bread slashing lame.  Both Alex & The Mackenzie cook constantly.  No, not true – they cook inconstantly, but as regularly as possible.  Alex bakes, and as my remaining homeschooler she bakes “for school” plus as much as she can “after school.”  It’s all unschooling, every little bite she makes.  The Mackenzie attends public school, so all her cooking is unschooling.  It’s also fun and practical, these forays into the kitchen which they claim as theirs as often as they may.  Unschooling operates in that hinterland, beyond the river’s rush and tidal wash, the eroding coast staked out by formal education.  The hinterlands of the unschooled mind sweep across that unbounded territory claimed only by a child’s interests, those sainted boondocks where there is no separation of learning, enjoyment, and active participation in life itself.  Here there are no desks, and the only bell ringing is the oven’s timer signaling that one batch is baked, and the next may proceed.

I can hear them both now, singing, badly out of whack, “Beat it!”  They are preparing the stand mixer to beat something, maybe King Arthur’s flour, or some Arm & Hammer.

The mixer whirs, then pauses.

The Mackenzie calls out the next ingredient from a recipe card, or her i-phone,  “Add a cup of packed, brown sugar!”

“Fantastico!” cries Alex.

They giggle together and Alex says, “We’re weird.”

“Yeah, so who cares?” asks The Mackenzie.

gw blog fat d girls mixer

The machine whirls to life again, beaters churning.

Alex must have stuck a scraper down into the bowl, alongside the spinning beaters, because The Mackenzie cautions her, “Be careful…”

“Yeah, I know.  You know what’s crazy?  At work I can operate the fryer – hot oil, I could melt my hand, but I’m not allowed to pick up a knife.  So stupid.”

{ Goat Note: I smile.  When kids can see the idiocy in the overreaching rules of law, they may grow up to change them back to sane and wise.  To illustrate, here’s a snap of Alex sectioning potatoes, years ago, as we prepared to plant the garden.

gw blog fat d alex knife

My kids use knives safely.  Ask any of them to pass you a knife and they’ll grip the safe edge of the blade, leaving the sharpened edge up and outside their grip, so that if the knife is grabbed it won’t slice them; then they’ll present you with the handle; they’ll expect you to say “Thank You” once the handle is secure in your hand, and they’ll say “You’re Welcome” as they release the blade, which is your cue that you have full control of the knife.  This cautious ritual goes back to my scouting days and it will be passed forward to my grandchildren.  We don’t need some damnable infestation of politicians further infantalizing our youth with inane laws, when a safety lesson will suffice. If “infestation of politicians” isn’t the term of venery for career lawmakers, it should be.}

Back at Fat Daddy’s, on the girls go, an hours-long string of unceasing banter.  From the time they clean the island of it’s usual collection  – the assorted balsamics, pepper & salt grinders, citrus press – until they wipe the last crumb, the final grains of salt or sugar, from the stone surface, they prattle, argue, sing, debate, console, consult, and on, and on.  But as they verbalize, they are making food, often sweet food.  And I have a sweet tooth, maybe two.  I try to stay away from the kitchen when they’re making scrumptious delights, but some days I fail.  That’s why, when the girls were pondering names for the future bakery & bistro they’d dream of opening together, I suggested, only half in jest, Fat Daddy’s.  The name, like sugar to my ribs, stuck.

Behind the girls’ banter, Hamlet plays one day, Henry V the next.  The bard is, frequently, their baking companion, his stories, his diction, leaking from the chaotic outskirts of the kitchen into their minds, and, there, taking up a residence beneath the liminal.  Shakespeare, that linguistic animal, voiced by his actors, has become the girls’ familiar.  And mine, from the next room.  I hear Falstaff, a voice of sanity when faced with a plate of fresh baked cookies, reason, “if sack and sugar be a fault, God help the wicked.”  Exactly.  I’ll take one.  Make that two.  And are you girls serving cappuccinos today?

gw blog fat d texas cupcakes

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Lest some reader cries out about sexism, let me note that before the kitchen was Fat Daddy’s, Angus & Drake were cooking here.  They were masters of the pumpkin pie, from scratch.  Plant the seeds in peat pots, transfer to the garden, tend, harvest, cut, boil, puree, and so on until the pie was made and eaten.

 

They were also juicers of good repute – cases of citrus fell, halved by their blades, and were squished dry in our press.  The boys made cheese, tiramisu, pancakes, and biscotti – much more, besides.  They left the house able to cook well enough to survive, and to impress a gal if occasion calls for that.

That our kitchen is currently a realm dominated by women is only a function of birth order and time.  Only the ladies are left.  And the fatter father.

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Fat Daddy’s, as a page on Goat Waters, could as easily be  a subpage of Homeschooling, but we’ll let it stand alone.  There really should be no easy boundary between school and not school.

If the girls are making something on a day when I’m writing in the room adjacent to the kitchen, then I’ll add more pictures, text, and maybe a recipe of theirs to this page.

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Recently a dear family friend & her husband, The Bakers, wanted to make a photo-announcement that two were soon to become three.  She asked the girls if they’d bake & decorate sugar cookies as the main prop for the announcement.  Of course they jumped at the chance.

Baby Baker


 

gw blog fat daddys vanilla cranberry scones