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Baking in Triform: Love in the batter

Baking in Triform: Love in the batter

by Meg Henderson

Holly and Jamie

I have a large collection of cookbooks, some I turn to more often than others. They are usually seasonally inspired with fresh organic produce as the staple ingredient. I am actually lulled to sleep often by looking at glossy photos of “ Classic Irish Cabbage and Bacon soup” or “ Roast Lamb with Lemons and Rosemary.” I wonder if this makes me a little odd. I am thrilled to discover when travelling a ‘Whole Foods’ market or a ‘Trader Joes’, and remember as a student in sub -tropical
South Africa taking a bus on Fridays to the Indian markets in the city center to buy fresh curry leaves and coriander for dhal; a marvelously economical dish, lasting several days. However, I digress. I am inspired by the pictures of steaming pasta with pesto and can smell summer in basil’s almost acrid green smell. Most summers I take my turn with other Triform coworkers, with my kids and students to process basil into pesto, pressing enormous cloves of garlic into the mix and seeing the intense yellow green appear as the blender mixes it all together. I recall stirring applesauce, canning pickles and being creative with our amazing produce from our abundant garden.

I love Summer, I love Fall and all things cinnamon and nutty and pumpkin colored. Sigh.What I really love most of all I discovered when Advent came around; baking for festivals and festive occasions! I have been asked for a few years to bake cookies for Advent with a mixed group of students, apprentices and journeymen. The first time I recall the gang came to Farmview for festive baking. It was a snowy December and it was great, mixing the dough and sipping tea while the cookies baked in the oven. We could look out at fat snow flakes falling outside. I learned that decorating cookies was the most fun, and the most mess!

Danny mixing
Last year we started to bake for Advent and I was joined by two very enthusiastic and competent coworkers: Jannika and Johanna. We looked up recipes and made lists, we were grateful for iPhones that could pull up recipes with alternatives to butter when the pantry didn’t have any. I was so impressed by Chelsea’s sturdy tackling of the temperamental mixer, of Mathew’s cheerful encouragement when the ingredients didn’t behave as we expected them to, of Robbie’s dedicated kitchen clean up and Holly’s steady hand when icing a cookie. 
I decided to continue the baking afternoons and we looked towards each month’s festive occasions, inventing some (Maypole Cakes for one) and having a sweet time with Valentine’s Day. There is something so nurturing about being together in a kitchen, especially when you have time to really take turns to “put love into the batter”. We pass the bowl around and Danny will get a crooked grin as he wields the wooden spoon.

In Triform, everybody has their talent to give to the work at hand; David can find the ingredients and remembers what we did and where the pans are, Jamie can read the recipe, Danny can chop and stir,
Holly can patiently knead, roll and measure, Eric can hold the mixer, smile and encourages us all. I have this year the gift of Anya, who with her open and solid approach to everyone and considerable experience provides the base on which we can dream, falter and fluff up sometimes. Last week I was looking for a peanut cookie recipe, I came across an old bakery bread folder, filled with hand written notes and anecdotes form the first cookbook I co- created for Triform’s 21st anniversary. It was so nostalgic to see it, to read Eugen Merzbacher’s directions for the Triform bread, baked first in Rowan’s basement kitchen, which was the first bakery. What a lot of fun we had!

I remembered meeting Mary Merzbacher on my first day in Triform, January 1991, in that bakery pulling out a tray of cookies from the oven. I learned to cook for a crowd here too, I was 21 , had no real experience of cooking and was left to cook a main meal for 12 people using strange- to- me cuts of Triform meat and vegetables from the root cellar! Triformers are really forgiving and always hungry thankfully, as some meals must have been less than delicious! That is when I studied ” The Moosewood Cookbook” by heart and later on decided to create a Triform cookbook, complete with Colin and Tanya’s wedding cake recipe ( from Akiko), Triform quark spread ( April and Felix) and how to inspire our ” breads and spreads ” meals so common to Camphill evening meals.

Jamie and David
I’m so grateful to have cooked so many different things and heard so many stories of flops and mistakes. This is what makes baking in Triform different. Why, even after all these years I am proudly not a fabulous baker but I am a great team baker. I have learned that the process of creating food together, particularly for festive occasions, offers us an opportunity to put love into what we eat and that doing it together radiates a joy that puts a glossy cookbook to shame.
Posted at January 29, 2016 | By : | Categories : Uncategorized


  • Betty Ann Keane

    February 9, 2016 at 6:25 AM

    a beautiful article……thank you Meg!

  • Emmy Zuckerman

    February 9, 2016 at 9:28 AM

    So lovely to read, Meg. Thank you. I wanted you all to know that Holly continues to enjoy her time in the kitchen, preparing and cleaning up. She will always carry the Triform love within her. Regards to all!

  • -db

    February 10, 2016 at 12:14 AM

    The joy comes through just beautifully!

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