the luxury of giving

austin bakes for bastrop
notes from maggie's farm

It's heeeere!  Tomorrow morning we're headed to 47th street in Central Austin with a basket full of sweet and savory.  Today's goodies are:

parmesan herb ciabattini

smoked pepper cheese crisps

and genoa salami and provolone stromboli

Today's baking had me thinking of what the victims of the wildfires here in Texas must be grappling with as I baked, in the comfort of my kitchen, with everything I needed at hand. 
It made me think back to a time, long ago, when I didn't...

When I was a young wife, many years ago, we had a fire, and lost everything (which was not much) that we had.  I remember some of the day vividly--driving down the street and expressing my surprise at all the fire trucks and crowds. My husband, to whom I'd been married all of ten days, remarking that it must be that place next door. Remembering then, that the vacant building had been torn down the week before. Split seconds passing as we drew closer, and seemingly in slow motion, my new husband opening his door, leaping from the moving car into the crowded nightmare of loss. I can't even recall how I managed to put the car in park from the passenger seat, and it seemed to take so long before I realized that it was our home that was under assault. 

The fire was brought to submission and I found myself standing in a smoky pit of ruin that had only a few hours before been the home I had so cheerfully been fixing up for my husband to see, the new white eyelet curtains in sooty tattered strips, the sound of the fireman's shovel as it scraped across the floor, tossing my broken pieces of wedding china out the back door.  I remember calling my mother, breaking down and sobbing into the phone, a neighbor taking over to explain the situation, long distance.  I remember sifting through the rubble, silence between the two of us because there were no words, and there would be no words for days.  

Oh, things were just fine, really, very quickly.  We stayed with my in-laws for a month, a tense situation for a newlywed couple, but they were gracious and we all made the best of it, if I recall correctly.  (it was probably awful for all of us, but memory is a kind editor)  We had little, but there was so little to replace, and friends, friends of friends, and friends of family all found an extra something, extra couch, extra chair, extra mattress, to help us out....and we made it.  We had our own, very sparse place before long, and we were back to almost new, albeit a little bruised.  The curtains, along with furniture, bedding, linens, clothing, dishes, and all, were replaced eventually.  The fear that we would find our home in flames upon our return anytime we were away lingered for many years.  And there was one loss I never got over-- I lost my mother's Better Homes and Gardens Cookbook in the fire.  The one her mother had given her when she first married.  The one with the beautifully hand-written notes (oil pastry pie crust--too salty!).  Almost thirty years later, it still brings tears to my eyes. 

It's true that there will be things that will never be replaced for the victims of the Central Texas wildfires.  Family heirlooms, personal tokens of achievement, ribbons, awards, trophies, treasured photos, baby shoes, grandmother's apron, dad's pocket watch.  But we can help ease the pain a bit by providing a little help with basic necessities, and most of all, to stand with an arm around our neighbor, literally and figuratively, as they face the ashes, and rebuild.

Thirty years after those trying days, I look at all I have, and am grateful that I can help, in some small way, ease the need of another who finds himself in a similar situation as I did so long ago.  My loss was so small in comparison to many of their's. There have been many who have helped me, in so many ways, along the years, and I am grateful.  So grateful.  As I buzz about the kitchen today, putting the finishing touches on my humble offerings, I am reminded of George Eliot's quote: 
"One must be poor to know the luxury of giving!" ~George Eliot
I am certainly not poor, neither have I ever truly been. However through the challenges like those of earlier years, I understand a little of what Eliot intended, I believe. Today, I am filled with gratitude for all of my blessings. For redemption. And for the 'luxury of giving'.

Would you like the recipes for today's treats?  Shoot us an email at and we'll hook you up!

1 comment:

  1. Such heartfelt words-Maggie you never cease to amaze me with your tender words and your vivid gorgeous photography. Yes I would love the recipes.


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