Thursday, June 16, 2011

it's not fun without an explosion.

i like to bake.

don't get confused by thinking that i'm good at baking. because i'm not. in fact, i'm terrible. and i'm afraid of ovens. straight up.

it's always sad when you love to do things that you're terrible at. but it's also kind of terrific because you work at it and work at it and eventually, you'll get good.

i'm hoping that's what happens to me with baking at any rate. so far i haven't improved much.

today's task: blueberry muffins.

my mother, like most mothers, is an excellent baker. my mother is just about good at everything she does. she bakes, cooks, and sews. i had the BEST halloween costumes when i was little. and she used to sew us matching dresses for easter sunday. we were that cool. but anyway. my mother  has recipes piled up on recipes which are piled up on more recipes, and she's the only one who can figure out her filing system. today, she pulled out a small, aged, water spotted notecard with my great grandmother's handwriting on it and said, "follow the recipe, we'll be home before you leave for your swim meet."

and she left me alone in the kitchen.

this is perfect for me, because when i bake, i need to bake alone. i can't have other people in the kitchen. in fact, i can't have other people on the same floor. the entire first floor of my house is open and has about... two doors. so i absolutely cannot permit anyone to be within sight of me. thus, i shun them to the basement.

my "going away to college" cake. it looks edible, right?
 under normal circumstances, i bake cookies and cakes. i really enjoy baking cakes and cupcakes, and i can actually bake a decent looking cake. i've been working on frosting for a long time now, and i really think i've reached the point where my cakes look edible. but i'd never made muffins before. there was no muffin mix. this was all me. and that gigantic bag of frozen blueberries i had thawing in the sink.

i encountered my first problem trying to read the tiny notecard. perhaps this just runs on my mother's side of the family, but our handwriting is tiny. MY handwriting is absolutely gigantic, but my mother writes in miniscule cursive. so does her mother. and so did her mother, the writer of this recipe.

i squinted. i picked up the card. i turned it this way and that. i squinted some more. a water stain had almost completely obliterated the second line of directions, and there was one stubborn ingredient i simply couldn't read. i figured it out by process of elemintation; there was no mention of butter anywhere else in the recipe. butter it was.

so i began to add ingredients to my mixing bowl (thinking that i'd blog about this) and i began to mix up the sugar and butter. this made the sugar explode everywhere, i had to do some intense stabbing with my spatula, and then go back to squinting at the ingredients. i couldn't figure out how to get the teaspoon spoon off of the ring with the other measuring spoons, so i ended up using it with the other spoons dangling uselessly and getting needlessly dirty.

when i added the last ingredient, milk, and turned on the mixer, there was a rather colossal explosion of milk and dough.

by the time i'd finished wiping that up from off of... well, everywhere, i had another problem on my hands. the recipe said to fold in the blueberries.

at one point in my life, when i was fourteen, i knew a lot about cooking terminology. i had ended up getting shunted into home ec class with ms. knipp, and god did i hate listening to her voice. she sounded like a chicken with a headcold. but she knew what she was talking about. she taught me to sew on a button (don't ask me how, i have no idea anymore) and how to sew, all the parts of a sewing machine (our test was to label a diagram) and how to navigate my way around the kitchen. i actually made hard candy in her class, and i must say, it was rather delicious. so at one point in her class, i knew what folding was.

but while i was standing there with my gigantic mixing bowl of a double recipe of blueberry muffin dough, i did not know how to fold.

luckily for me, my mother chose this moment to come home from her shopping spree at half price books and she told me to just dump the blueberries in and stir it carefully with my spatula.

so i did. and i fretted when a few blueberries exploded and some of their color leaked into the dough. my mother's muffins are always perfectly white with blueberries in the middle. my blueberry muffins are probably going to turn out purple. at least they haven't exploded in the oven yet while i write this.

my mother's baking weapon of choice is our melon baller. it's used for just about anything that needs to be in a dollop. so this means muffins, small cookies, and cupcakes: prepare to get balled. i find the melon baller to be quite nice; just dip, turn over into the muffin tin, and squeeze. everything comes out nice and clean and you're not shaking a spoon uselessly over a pan, trying to get the dough to come off and land where you want it. my new baking weapon of choice (after the ever present and always authentic spatula) is the muffin baller. like mother, like daughter.

while i was balling the dough into my muffin tins, my mother went over to the mixer and asked me what had happened. this was after i had cleaned up all of my explosions.

one day, i will be good at baking. hopefully this time comes before i live on my own. that time is coming faster and faster.

but no matter how terrible i am at baking, i still absolutely LOVE it.

No comments:

Post a Comment