Saturday, December 17, 2016

Kitchen Blizzard

Clic. Clic. Clic. My sandals sound as I walk across the kitchen floor. We’ll surely win first prize for The Absolutely Stickiest Kitchen Floor. My black pants wear white smudges. Flour. Powdered sugar. Blue food coloring adorns my fingers. Cookie dough has worked its way under my finger nails.
            I give each of my three granddaughters a job.
            “Who’d like to measure the flour?” I show Manuela how to bang the measuring cup on the counter to settle the flour.
Colomba flings her long hair in wide circles for several minutes. Then volunteers to separate the egg yolks.
Oh-Oh. Two yokes. Oops, the yokes break into the gooey whites along with pieces of shell. I demonstrate with the second egg. Again, two yokes. Tricky.
Pascuala has her hands on the glass sugar jar. I’d best give her a task with the sugar.
“We need one-and-a-half cups. Up to this line.” Crunchy sugar grains join flour on the floor.
They correct my Spanish. This is a first, but I don’t mind. I tell them, “It’s a deal. You correct my Spanish and I correct your English.”
Our first attempt using their great-grandmother’s cookie press is a disaster. Butter oozes from the press. An 85 degree day is not ideal for achieving the right consistency of cookie dough. We manage to pop one tray of cookies into the oven. The rest of the dough goes into the frig and we take a time-out for lunch. They wolf down spaghetti. Pascuala demonstrates her skill at counting from one to ten in Mapundungun, the Mapuche language. We devour the first batch of cookies for dessert.
Colomba suggests we start again, forget the cookie press and make patterned cookies with fresh dough. I send them off to put some ornaments on the Christmas tree, while I make a new batch of dough.
Manuela calls from the living room, “Sue, what’s your password?”
“For what?”
“Your computer,”
“We want to show you something on YouTube.”
“Please! Let’s get the cookies finished first.”
  They return to knead the dough into a compact ball and take turns with the rolling pin while Pascuala sings a song in a squeaky voice over and over again.
While they cut out the patterned cookies, I snap photos. Cookies in the oven, I get out the ingredients for the glaze. Pascuala yelps, “I burned myself!”
“Where?” I grab an ice pack from the frig and apply it to her elbow.
“We need Ziploc bags and rubber bands for the glaze,” says Colomba. They clearly have more recent practice with patterned cookies than I have and work well without my supervision. Soon the table, chairs, clothes and hair are dotted with globs of blue, red and green frosting.
While I’ve dropped my guard, they managed to take a dozen photos with my cell phone, photos of elbows and headless cooks.
“Damn! These cookies are stuck to the pan.” I pop broken chunks into my mouth.
Grandpa arrives and surveys the scene. The cookies are finished, and we all drift into the dining room. Pascuala trips and lands on the Christmas tree, her arm tangling with the tree lights. The girls want to play a new game with us, Mannequin Challenge, which requires us each to hold a body position while one films us. When the video maker sweeps the camera in another direction, we must change positions. No talking. No moving. Someone giggles. Then another. Soon all of us are laughing. Video maker gets frustrated. Try again. After five or six takes, we’ve had enough.
We sit down in the back yard, and I pass around chocolate ice cream bars. Manuela and Pascuala smear melting chocolate ice cream on their faces.
 Don’t know if I’m capable of standing up again.


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