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  • Writer's pictureThe Improper Grandma

Updated: Feb 4, 2021

I love our granddaughter- her fault lies in the naïve trust that Grandma's love for her extends to my plate. Once the food hits the plate, all I ask is that it is mine and mine alone! Of course my love for the child includes feeding her almost anything she pleases (with or without her mother’s consent… Grandma power is fun). It isn't like I'd let our poor curly headed nugget starve. But reach for my homemade grilled salmon street tacos with crunchy slaw and the kid will learn real quick her Gran ain’t here to play. No matter how many crocodile tears you conjure up in those big hazel eyes. Grandma Shaney does not. share. her. food.

Think about it though, I've already shared and sacrificed my body to create three adult humans of my own. (Topher has hair in funny places now so he technically qualifies.) Every ounce of my being has been renounced, molding them into their own free thinking forms. Literal decades of setting myself aside to ensure the betterment of their lives, make dreams come true, be their ride or die. My skillful guilt-instillment technique ensures they know the depth of my unconditional love for them. This in turn trumps all, for all time! I’ve cared enough to reserve every one of the fucks I ‘care’ to give, for my children… still not going to share my plate of food though.

Now, Clover has been food adventuring with the Mr. and I ever since her very first visit to Hall's Corner Bar in Genesee, Idaho. She was out to lunch with her pride-filled bona fide Great’s, making her official debut at just one month old. Today, with new-found ingenuity, she will pull up my ottoman to the kitchen island (pretty adorable) to confidently test what her mama or I concoct and openly share her feedback. So far there seems to be no fear of any flavor, or texture (except avocado, just like her mother). I hold Clover’s opinion in high regard; as the official dog food aficionado of the house, she must have quite refined taste!

The issue is when we get to sitting down for our meal. Turn your head for even a brief moment; no plate is safe that rests within her reach. She's either switched plates with you, without shame and maintaining direct eye contact, or gone full stealth mode. As if with some magical three year old sleight of hand, she’s disappeared with your steak in exchange for her gummy carrot sticks. I do not recommend eating them. Lesson learned.

I must say however, her table manners far outshine those of her Uncle Topher’s. It will take years of grooming to reach the level of her Auntie A, whom is a seasoned professional and lives to tell tales of childhood dinner table anguish. From forks scraping teeth, the ‘not leaving the table until you’ve cleaned your plate’ rule, and dare I mention the can opener incident of 2003.

Grand-mothering calls on us to stretch imaginations, teach respect and reasonable caution. One must first survive the growth involved in sharing a civilized meal with others. This means recognizing attributes of an uncivilized meal. As you know, being improper lives and grows deep within my soul. *Grinchy smile* A far flung spoon of mashed potatoes shuts a young one up quickly, yet also teaches them proper aim. (See, I am reasonable.) If it’s a food fight you want Ms. Clover, it’s a food fight you’ll get!

Fellow improper Grandma’s, beloved readers, there are boundaries. Mine as I have just shared may or may not be considered a healthy or practical set, but one thing is certain. While sharing may in fact be caring, after preparing enough food for each mouth and set of hands present for any meal I host, all I ask is the food on my plate remain mine.

Protect your plate Grandma's and happy boundary setting!

  • Writer's pictureThe Improper Grandma

Updated: Jan 30, 2021

Week 3's cake of choice is spice cake, but not your Betty Crocker spice cake. To be honest, it was supposed to be coffee cake combining two of my favorite vices. Unfortunately, two failed attempts later we called it quits; decided to spare the cake’s soul and try again next week. Attempt one did not bake all the way through or show any real signs of rise. *Note to self: baking soda goes stale.* I am monitoring the designated cake tester for signs of dehydration as attempt two was extremely dry and bland. A heartfelt thank you to my supportive Mr. for putting himself at risk eating the surviving cake while lovingly complimenting the flavor. It's a lucky woman that wins the heart of a man willing to lie about her shitty baking while choking down a giant bite of mostly dead cake. Topher, my picky eater and vanilla connoisseur, took one look at the poor thing and walked away. So this week, spice cake!

I’ve always been brave with flavor. The more the merrier; taste buds unite! My heart was not broken at all moving this cake up on the list. Heavy research went into the recipe and some alterations were made to accommodate my demanding spice-o-meter. More ginger and cinnamon, less cardamom. This recipe called for a buttercream frosting- after tasting I am proposing something glazier and maybe, bourbon? The best thing to come from the spice cake is that Toph liked it. He actually ate it and said, “wasn’t the white cake from week one, but it’s better than the coffee thing.” I shall take this as the highest of compliments! If you'd like to try out the recipe click the Eat Dessert First tab on the Crème de la Clover blog.

To recover from the chaotic coffee cake experience, I found a few other reasons to stay busy in the kitchen- other than to avoid laundry and housework. Saturday was January 23rd which is recognized as National Pie Day. Conveniently I had some spare Granny Smith’s and a go-to apple pie recipe. Seeing that cake and I were no longer on speaking terms, National Pie Day arrived right in the nick of time. Plus we get to celebrate it twice in one year making us pie snobs extra happy. Maybe by December 1st, I can pull off one of those perfectly primped butter pie crusts with little ornate decorations... or not.

Funnily enough, half way through I realized my one and only pie pan had been kidnapped. So I unknowingly made a galette; a flat round freeform crusty cake made of pastry or bread, as the French describe it. I am glad there is such a formal name for this because I was not mentally prepared for fail #3. The Grandma Code of Conduct states that one must never point blame but rather encourage proper behavior for future growth and development. It was Myranda, I am pointing blame. Return the pie plate or else!

Alongside the spare apples were some questionably brown bananas- so I made banana bread! It's a safe bake since it falls within the narrow scope of Topher's taste bud acceptance policy. At this point I need the kid to step up to the plate and sacrifice his delicate tastebuds for the good of my waistline. What’s the saying, when life gives you brown bananas, make banana bread? When your kid steals your pie pan, make a galette? *snorts at self, sips coffee*

Overall, too many calories were consumed and messes were made this week. But I got to put black pepper into a cake and didn't ruin it! Black pepper really is my favorite. I’m hoping a celebratory beer will negate some calories, but if not then just pour this improper Grandma another. Cheers!

  • Writer's pictureThe Improper Grandma

Updated: Jan 29, 2021

One of the many topics being shared on Créme de la Clover is my love for baking, cooking, and all things food. This includes eating. Baking was a childhood joy of mine which has never seemed to change. Looking back, my teen years really developed the baking bug. I remember surprising my Dad with whatever baking triumph emerged from the failures, usually classic chocolate chip cookies. (Definitely not the mid-80's banana cream pie attempt.) Proud as a peacock I’d walk a fresh batch of those warm cookies up-town to him and his work buddies. They would light up, raving about the smell and taste. I would relish in their semi-rehearsed acts of surprise. Bless their souls for eating them! Sometimes I wondered if they were simply pretending to like them and actually tossed the whole plate once I left… hmmm *suspiciously sips coffee*

In the early adult years, when I like to think I had some control of life’s reins, dinner was most often served by 6pm and eaten at the kitchen table. That poor well-worn wooden table, my only source of counter space for many years. Oh the stories my children could tell! Growing up they all knew on any given day a random cake, batch of cookies, sweet rolls, pies, brownies, or freshly baked bread would appear there. I swear my toiled over confections would hardly be cooled before their three sets of devouring eyes caught glimpse. One-by-one they’d schmooze their way into the kitchen to negotiate a portion, like little well-mannered vultures. Yes, I worked too. I worked A LOT. I still don’t know how I found the time between work, and all the kids’ obligations on top of my own. Maybe it was because I was actually 29 then. But baking? Baking simply made me happy, so I made time. It was what still brought me joy... or maybe at that point in life, sanity? Quilting brought me joy too, and coaching volleyball, but those are stories for another day.

Being a mother, wife, and coworker, my joy-filled hobby slowly transformed into more of an obligation. I was often called upon to provide baked goods for school fundraisers, sporting events, concerts, Sunday coffee hour, potlucks, family gatherings, and midnight treats for the kids' many sleepovers. Topher was a newborn and Ashlie became consumed with high school activities. Fortunately my Manda May was an independent little baker at a young age and enjoyed relieving me of the dreaded deed. My Easy-Bake oven extraordinaire. My star baker! Thank goodness, because I was all baked out. No really, I specifically remember rushing a requested order of sweet rolls, my specialty! Anyone that bakes knows stress is not a welcome ingredient; the rolls came out of the oven completely unrecognizable. A gremlin batch, if you will. They went in fine, like the cute fluffy mogwai, metaphorically- and came out a full on fed-it-after-midnight, gremlin. This was my tipping point. I was over it, done- fucking retired! A failed bake does nothing for a stressed woman's ego.

That was then, and this is a pandemic. I drink wine now. Judge as you may, wine soothes my improper soul. I have endured 296 days of quarantine with the Mr. and my teenage son’s insatiable appetite for whatever is NOT in the house. Throw in a job change and adjustment to work at home for me, the Mr. becoming my office mate, and Topher's 8th grade distance learning- we have lived the 2020 American dream. With this in mind it has been decided 2021 is the year I dust off my joy. The hope is that by doing so it will inspire others to reignite whatever joy they have lost along the way, or at least provide some entertaining reading.

No longer can baking be avoided 364 of the 365 days a year. After all, the Grandma Code of Conduct states that proper Grandma’s make their grandchildren birthday cakes. Or can we declare dominance over our children’s children like we did our own? Can we actually take their birthday away? Does the mother need to sign off on this? It's like my ancestors are looking down (or up, which is really a terribly unflattering angle) telling me to get over it and put my apron back on! I'm sorry, that's a lie. I never wore an apron. Do they wear those now? Do I need to find one? Shit.

From the safety of my own kitchen, I will keep it simple: 1 cake per week. That is 52 cakes in the year, plus 5 for each of our birthdays (wait 6... I have a grandkid). Factor in a 5% re-bake rate, because wine. I committed to this knowing I have a full house of company the month of February, a trip to South Dakota in April, a family RV vacation in May, and three weeks in a hotel while our floors are being repaired for the cherry on top. So we will be getting creative, people!

While I am not a horrible baker, there is still much to learn. Actually, by many accounts I am a semi-professional! In the eyes of those with limited taste buds or questionable palate standards, my baked goods have been #winning. Education is a facet of this adventure I am very excited about, for both your sake and mine! Full disclosure, there may be stodgy moments. (I am well versed in The Great British Baking Show. It was binged as a coping mechanism in 2020. So I’ve got this going for me.)

As it sits, I have made two cakes so far this year. Technically three, we had a casualty. Going forward I will post photos and share the official recipes and revisions. I will not be sharing the physical effect this journey may have on my waistline nor will I claim liability for any repercussions to my readers in correlation with the content of this blog.


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