Today I am lucky enough to have my friend Susie Finkbeiner guest posting for me on my blog. Not only is Susie an incredible friend with a vivacious personality she’s also the author of TWO wonderful novels. I can’t wait for you all to read what she has to share. As an aside her books are on sale this week and let me say that I LOVED “My Mother’s Chamomile” and it’s on sale! Click HERE for details.
Everything I know about cooking I learned from my Grandma Relf. I’m sure my mom tried to teach me a thing here or there. But I didn’t pay attention (sorry, Mom) until my grandma taught me.
“Now, put a pinch of salt in,” she would say.
“You’ll need a tad of allspice.”
“What’s a tad?” I’d ask.
“I don’t know.” She furrowed her brow. Then she’d pour out a little of the dark spice in the hollow of her hand. “That’s a tad.”
I never witnessed Grandma using a measuring spoon. I can imagine her kitchen and where things were. Her hand-held eggbeater. Flour sifter. The cooking rum. But, for the life of me, I can’t remember if she even owned measuring spoons.
If she did, they were probably buried under decades of kitchen gadgets.
In my novel My Mother’s Chamomile I wrote a scene between a grandmother (Olga) and her young adult granddaughter (Charlotte). They are baking in the kitchen Olga had inhabited for fifty years.
Olga measures everything in her hands. She prefers the handwritten recipes. The aroma of baking fills her heart.
Here’s a little taste of that scene:
Charlotte smiled as she tried to pull open the utensil drawer. It stuck, warped after years of use and humid days like that one. I reached over and bumped it with the palm of my hand, the way I’d done for ten or so years. She laughed when the drawer opened without a protest. She grabbed the beaters and rubber spatula and measuring spoons.
“You need these spoons? Or can you still eyeball it?” That wink of hers got a little bubble of delight out of me.
I pointed at the hollow of my hand. “Best tool in the kitchen right there, honey.”
“I’d never get the right amount.”
“I guess I don’t know exactly if I do get it right. I just put in what I think looks good.” I winked back at her. “But it always seems to work out okay. I haven’t blown the place up yet from a batch of cookies.”
We cracked the eggs and dumped the sugar into the bowl. The smell of melted butter warmed the room. A puff of flour hung in the air. The two of us kept our mouths quiet, letting the sounds of mixing fill our ears. Baking with Charlotte healed a long-wounded place of my heart. I thanked God for the mercy of her standing next to me in the kitchen.
I miss my Grandma Relf. She’s been gone for 16 years. In that time, I’ve regretted that she never wrote her recipes down. She just knew them.
One thing I still have, though, are my hands. They’re the exact same as hers. Crooked fingers and all.
I can always measure, with pretty good accuracy, a tad in the hollow of my palm.
MY MOTHER’S CHAMOMILE BLURB: Middle Main, Michigan has one stop light, one bakery, one hair salon…and one funeral home. The Eliot Family has assisted the grieving people in their town for over fifty years. After all those years of comforting others, they are the ones in need of mercy.
Olga, the matriarch who fixes everything, is unable to cure what ails her precious daughter. She is forced to face her worst fears. How can she possibly trust God with Gretchen’s life?
A third generation mortician, Evelyn is tired of the isolation that comes with the territory of her unconventional occupation. Just when it seems she’s met a man who understands her, she must deal with her mother’s heartbreaking news. Always able to calm others and say just the right thing, she is now overwhelmed with helplessness as she watches Gretchen slip away.
They are tasting only the drought of tragedy…where is the deluge of comfort God promises?
BIO: Susie Finkbeiner is a novelist and short story writer from West Michigan. Her first novel “Paint Chips” released in 2013 and her second novel “My Mother’s Chamomile” in 2014. She worked with WhiteFire Publishing on both novels. Currently, she is working on her third novel.
Susie is a wife, mother of three, and avid reader. She enjoys time with her family, coffee dates with her good friends, and quiet moments to read and write.