An Old Farmer to Thank
March 17, 2008
Listened to the show Saturday and it was not bad. It was the Twenty-something Talent Show show and about time. I've been looking forward to it, and enjoyed every minute while I made Beef Stroganoff and fried carrots, something the kids asked for a while back. They don't often make a specific meal request, but when they do, I'm on it. And stroganoff is easy.
Leg of lamb is not easy. I know this. I made one way back when I was out of high school and working for old Mrs. Meyer, whose husband passed way too early and left her with a farm on 600 acres, a boatload of money, and Will, the old farmer, who couldn't look her in the eye. Couldn't look anyone in the eye, really. You'd think he had a bad eye or that he did something he was mighty ashamed of, and you'd be wrong. Will was just shy and kept to himself and to look someone in the eye got him all fidgety and made him stammer and turned him a shade of red you don't see much in nature.
So anyway, Mrs. Meyer insisted on leg of lamb for a dinner party and because I was her "hired girl" as she called me, it was my job to figure it all out and I did. By golly, though, I had no idea a leg of lamb weighed what it did, and once I got it into the kitchen I had to figure out how in the good Lord's name I was going to get it into the oven. And out of the blue came Will, who, without a word, rubbed and seasoned that leg of lamb and slid it on into the oven. He made sure I saw what spices he used, and at what temperature he set the oven, and he didn't leave when he was done. He helped with the corn casserole and the fried red potatoes and the buttermilk biscuits and peach pie.
I lived with and worked for Mrs. Meyer one long summer, and I believe those three months changed the course of my life. I learned how to make lemon soufflé and liver pate, and I served martinis and cosmopolitans and three kinds of bourbon, all of which I mixed or poured myself. I learned how to waltz, and that walking will ease both your mind and your heart, and that loneliness is temporary, and patience must be learned and once you learn it, you'll not forget. I pitched hay and refrained from killing that dog of hers, and I shared, now and then, a laugh with Mrs. Meyer, who never stopped grieving 'til the day she died.
Mr. Sundberg mentioned the other day I ought to make leg of lamb for Easter. I'm thinking about it. It is a lot of work, and, frankly, food is not the first thing on my mind on Easter Sunday. I'll take bread and water, or some Peeps and chocolate rabbits, thank you, as long as I hear, at some point, the "Hallelujah Chorus" and have some time alone to contemplate the day. If I do decide on leg of lamb, and it turns out, I'll have an old farmer to thank. An old farmer whose eyes I looked into only once, on the day I left Mrs. Meyer's farm. Will was there to load my bags into the cab. He helped Mrs. Meyer into the back seat and turned and lifted his head and looked right at me. "Miss you, Girly," he said, and I don't think I've seen, to this day, or will ever, eyes that brilliantly blue.
This recipe is great for spring, warm or cool, butter or not, frosting or not. You can do cupcakes with the batter as well as a loaf, and it takes hardly any time at all.
Lemon Poppyseed Bread
1 small instant lemon pudding
1 lemon cake mix
1/2 cup oil
1/2 c poppy seed
1 c water
Pour into two lightly-greased loaf pans,
or one loaf pan and 12 muffin cups.
Bake at 350 for about 45 minutes.
May be glazed with a lemon juice sugar glaze.