Julia Child, Croissants & a Broken Heart

I've been in mourning recently.  My heart so broken for our family that I've been cooking & baking my ass off.   If you've read one of my earlier blogs, you'll know that I'm the daughter of a woman who used to bring her best dishes to the funeral home so it's only natural that this is one of the ways I deal with trauma & grief.   The more challenging the recipe, the better to deal with my sadness as the preparation alone offers great solace for me.  This week alone, I have made focaccia, baguettes, an apple-almond custard tart, a damn baked chicken that tasted so good I felt guilty for enjoying it.  And croissants, for Pete's sake!  A laborious, hours long process & my twelfth attempt at those elusive 82 flaky, buttery layers of deliciousness, talk about a french kiss.  Have I mentioned that most of the recipes were from my collection of Julia Child cookbooks?   What's brought about this deep need for such soul soothing?  ONE OF OUR DAUGHTERS BROKE UP WITH HER BOYFRIEND.  How dare she? 

 Didn't she understand what an integral part of our family this wonderful man had become?  He was the son we didn't have & we just knew he'd be in our family for life.  And let me tell you, being considered "family" isn't always easy to achieve here.  Our family is very close knit, almost fiercely tribal, complete with shields, spears & war paint.  Interlopers are dealt with in a way that only a mostly female tribe will.  My husband is the cool-headed, diplomatic one in the family, he buries the bodies for us and wipes away our tears.

But this boyfriend was special to all of us.  He just seemed to make our family better, he fit in, damnit!  He was part of our tribe & I want him back, preferably before I need a larger pant size.  But it's not my decision, is it?  It feels like a death occurred but there's no body to bury.  I get that my soon to be 25 year old daughter is grown up enough to know her own mind, make her own decisions.  After all, she's a college graduate with a successful career, she's beautiful & smart but, I can't help being angry with her decision to alter our family dynamics & sad because I wanted this boyfriend to be hers for life, thus making him ours for life, too.  We'll stand by her though, she's part of the tribe, plus she's got a boatload of really good war paint.  But if I could beat some sense into her, I'd use my rolling pin & the croissant cutter.  

And just a side note, if you're ever sad, depressed or just simply outdone, let Julia Child into your kitchen.  That crazy bitch will have you whipping eggs, beating dough, stuffing chicken & before you know it, your heart, your mind is in a better place.

The Beater of a Mother's Love

To have known my mom was a rare gift.  She was  beautiful, intelligent, funny, gentle & mind bogglingly lightning fast with that never leave a mark, dare you to cry, silent scream inducing pinch of tender, inside the thigh skin if you acted up in church.  Since we always sat front row, (she made sure we left home extra early for that privilege) you sucked up your trembling lip & didn't dare look the priest in the eye because you'd be seeing him the next day as he walked the classrooms of our catholic school.  That woman was a damn good Catholic & she wasn't afraid to use that Catholic guilt thing if you stepped out of line.  There were 5 of us kids, she laid out a lot of guilt.  But then, us kids had a tendency to act like our father, the head jackass of the family.  She did her best.

What my mom did best was love us.  She loved us best when she was in the kitchen.  That woman had a way with food.  She cooked & baked "from scratch".  You wanted to insult my mother?  You asked her what cake mix she used for that delicious confection she brought to the funeral home.  Yes, she was that kind of woman, she brought food to the funeral home, I get it now, her food was soul soothing, even to the grieving.  The younger version of me never understood how she could lose her religion over a question like that, again, I get it now. 

The smell of my mother's kitchen was the aroma of love & we were well loved.  Her cakes were something special & even though I have her recipes, there's just no substitute for a mother's touch. I keep the beater from her handheld mixer in my kitchen drawer, a beater that knew more tongues than a Pentecostal because we fought over who was going to lick the batter.  A beater that once got tangled up in my then long hair when I leaned in too close to the mixing bowl.  Funny the things we hold onto.          

I've posted one of my mom's cake recipes if you'd like to mix up some love of your own.  It's in her handwriting & can be found on our facebook page @ facebook.com/pages/Water-Oak-Farms-Inc


Soul Soothers No3

For those of you that have read O. Henry's "The Gift of the Magi", you'll remember the story of a married couple w/ extremely limited finances who each sacrificed something valued to gift the other with a Christmas present.  Today's Soul Soother blog is along those lines.  It's about whether you would pass up an opportunity to be a soul soother to someone, be it a random person on the street or someone you know personally that could benefit from a little gift, a gift that maybe, just maybe, could make the difference between that person having the crappiest day to something they would look forward to going home to, all due to you.  Well, I missed an opportunity to do just that & for me personally it has left an indelible mark & I don't want to experience it again.

You see, a couple of weeks ago, we had one of our local police officers come in to our shop & a neighboring shop to check on an issue we were both experiencing.  The officer handled the problem so professionally & defused a situation that could have gone wrong in so many ways.  The officer then came back in to get better acquainted & to see just what we did at Water Oak Farms.  I explained to him that I didn't make anything that people needed, but instead, we made little luxuries, body & soul soothers, that just make people feel & smell wonderful.  He said he loved things like our beard & aftershave oils & soaps and that he'd be back.  Now please keep in mind that I often "gift" people randomly with products because it's one of my joys to do but that day I didn't offer it to the officer.  My gut was telling me to do it, however, I also know there is some kind of rule that doesn't allow police officers to accept gifts & for now, I am still in my term of an elected parish council woman-perhaps now you can see the ethics quandary I found myself in.  Sadly, 2 days later, that police officer was shot & killed in the line of duty.  His name was Officer Henry Nelson.

I went through so many feelings of guilt & anger for not being a "soul soother", for passing up an opportunity to possibly make Officer Henry's end of shift a little better that day.  Truth be told, I felt like a total failure knowing that what talent I've been gifted with as a formula/scent creator was not passed on to Officer Henry that day.  So, in honor of Officer Henry, you'll soon find "Henry's Gift" on our website, it's a coupon that allows you to be someone's soul soother.  It's a way for both of us to be someone's soul soother, because while it offers a free body bar with any purchase,  we hope you'll use that coupon not for yourself, but to consciously choose a person that you feel needs a little pick-me-up.  Thank you, Officer Henry, for your humble service & your beautiful smile you brought to our community.  And to the rest of you, thank you for reading.  Now go be someone's body & soul soother.


Soul Soothers

 It's my first blog ever & I'm doing it on our brand new website which I hope you & I get great use & enjoyment from. God knows it's been a crappy ride with the previous one but, water under the bridge, let's move on.  Today's topic is "soul soothers". Let me warn you ahead of time, I'm prone to using the "f" word & other inappropriate language when talking w/ my close friends & family.  If you're here & you're offended, let me suggest the "shop" page of this site, that's where the real soul soothers are anyway. And let's face it, the world & some of the people in it seem to have gone absolutely fucking crazy these days & don't we all need something to soothe our souls amidst the chaos?  I do & my soul soothers come in several forms. Usually in getting lost in my own world of scents & formula creations, trust me, scent goes a long way to setting my mind in a positive direction. Mostly though, it comes in the form of my best friend.  I have three, but one is my husband, the other I met later in life & while I treasure those two beyond measure, the one I'm speaking of today has been with me for several lifetimes & no doubt, she's going to want to kill me in this one for bringing attention to her.  She's not an attention seeker, she let's me shine, but she's the reason I can shine. 

Fuck it, let me name her, I think it's rude not to refer to a person by their name. Mandie Lucas, there.  Mandie can shoot me later (over cocktails & lunch, hopefully).  You see Mandie is the artist behind the new Water Oak Farms' logo you see on all of our product labels. It's the center panel of a painstakingly & lovingly handcrafted quilt showcasing our product ingredients.  Mandie's an attorney & she soothes her own soul through her art (check it out @ www.bayousouls.com).  I was so blown away by her generous gift to me that I felt the best way to honor it was to make it the first thing you see on our labels.  That water oak tree & the quilt reminds me of her, our friendship, the evolution of our lives.  Long, long ago,  I was going to college to be an attorney, she was going to be a marine biologist.  As you can see since you're here, how we ended up.  God has a great sense of humor.

Mandie, by my own husband's admission, is my soul soother.  She has a way of calming the bitchy side of me, the side of me that could eat the ass end off a hyena.  She lets me whine when I can't seem to get my business shit together, when my 4 daughters are just killing me  (you'll hear more about them, known as CAOS, in another blog which I'm sure they can't wait for), or when I want to beat the crap out of my husband with one of his own farm animals that finds it's way into my garden or broke through a fence while he's away at work.  My daughters & husband should really appreciate Mandie-after all, she's usually the reason I'm not in jail for some heinous familial crime.  She even tells me I'm beautiful when I know damn good & well how crappy I might look on any given day.  I'm also a little afraid of her.  We've been bosom buddies so long that she knows where ALL my skeletons & secrets can be found. So I try to keep her plied with really good liquor & great food.  We have the best lunches, but then, I have the best friend.

Mandie is also the reason why some scent blends & products I make actually get to our customers.  You know, those other soul soothers.  She's always willing to test my concoctions, giving me honest opinions on something I'm working on.  So, for the fans of my products,  I hope y'all have a little appreciation for Mandie, too-the soul soother.

If you've managed to stay with me, thank you.  Hope you'll come back soon & sit w/ me awhile.  I also hope you have your own soul soother(s) to see you through the chaos.  Don't forget to check out our products on the "shop" page of our site, sometimes we do something so right that it becomes your "go-to" for cleansing, soothing & rejuvenating your body & your soul.

Sincerely-Pam, the mother of all CAOS