Well, I needed to make bread, first of all. And I also needed to bake for the upcoming week's Tuesdays with Dorie post. And, because the week AFTER that is "my" Tuesday – my recipe selection – and because I wanted to be sure to have THAT recipe made well in advance, just in case there were any problems and also so I could be sure to have the post and photos ready in plenty of time, I decided to do that TWD recipe as well. And since I was making bread, why not make more bread. I'd cooked the last four russet potatoes in preparation for the potato bread I'd planned to bake, and I also had three big sweet potatoes on the counter that I decided to bake, mainly to clear some space and to cook them before they started to get soft. And, hmmm…if I'm going to make potato bread…I wonder what it would be like if I used sweet potatoes? Do I have a sweet potato bread recipe?
I had no idea. I poked the sweet potato skins with a knife and popped them in the oven to bake while I flipped through a few bread books. There were SWEET sweet potato breads – mainly quickbreads and other sweet items. Nothing savory. Not in the books I checked, anyway. And no, I didn't check all of them. I wasn't in a book-perusing mood. I was in a cooking and baking mood. So I made up my own sweet potato bread recipe. And I'll post that later, maybe tonight, maybe tomorrow. I'm happy with how it turned out, I will say that.
So I made a total of four loaves of bread, a coffee cake, a batch of cookies, and – for dinner – gnocchi. I only needed one potato for the bread, so I had three left to play with, and gnocchi sounded perfect. Easy to make, comforting to eat.
Julia had helped a bit with the cookies, and when she saw me peeling a potato, she grabbed a chair from the dining room to stand on and demanded that I let her help. Once her hair was in a pony tail and an apron was tied around her little waist, she was ready to go. (Hands washed, too. Yes, Mommy, with soap!)
She watched me scrape skin off the potatoes, and then helped me put them through the ricer. She spooned salt, I scooped flour. She cracked eggs. I poured olive oil. We both tossed everything together, taking turns with a fork. Once the dough was just combined, it was time to make ropes. Or worms. She's nearly five. She's quite familiar with worms.
I didn't take pictures; I've photographed the process before for this site, and I just wanted to get the gnocchi made so I could get dinner ready.
I did, however, ask Bill to take a couple of pictures while Julia and I were working.
We were standing at the counter – me, barefoot on the floor; Julia, barefoot on her chair. We wore aprons, our hair was pulled back and out of the way. Our hands were dusted with flour, and we were intent on our work as we rolled sticky blobs of potato dough into long "worms" of relatively uniform thickness.
As we worked together, mother and daughter, I had this feeling, as I sometimes do while working in the kitchen, of…of being more than just myself. And of how, while I am "me" the whole time; I am always "Jayne" no matter how old I am or what my position is in the family – daughter granddaughter niece sister aunt wife mother – I am also NOT the same person.
The view changes and overlaps and rewinds. I see things through different eyes and from different perspectives. It's disconcerting. I am me, but suddenly I am not just me, watching my daughter's small, slightly awkward, determined hands manipulate dough in an imitation of mine. I am also my mother watching me, her small daughter. And I am also her mother, my grandmother, watching. And one day, perhaps, Julia will be the mother, and she will step into this spot, standing where I am now and feeling the same sense of multiple selves that I do on occasion, while she watches her own daughter try to be a big girl.