Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Half Baked

A couple of weeks ago, my dad had asked for some columbines from my yard to transplant to his.  I texted him to let him know that in addition to the flowers, I would bring him some zucchini from my garden.  He had given me a raised bed for my food-growing addiction and in return, I promised him some of my bounty.  His response to me was that even though I had typed "zucchini", he read it as "zucchini bread".  He's subtle like that.

I baked it the night before I went to see him.  Red walked into the kitchen and saw me at the counter, wooden spoon in hand, pouring dry ingredients into the sugar, egg and vegetable oil mixture and stopped cold.  She approached me very slowly, like one would when they are encountered with a strange dog, careful to not make any sudden movements or loud noises that might frighten the animal and provoke it into an attack.  

"Mom," she said, carefully and with her hands out in front of her submissively, "are you baking?"

I snapped back with a curt "yes" and began folding the wet and dry ingredients together.

"Are you baking for us?", she continued.  Brave little shit.

I explained to her that no, I was baking zucchini bread for grandpa because when I told him I was bringing zucchini, he countered with the hopeful zucchini bread request.  I told the story to my dad when I got there the next morning, and had to tell him why it was such a big deal for me to bake.  I hate baking.  I don't think he believed me at first, likely because he knows how much I love cooking.  I am an excellent cook.  EXCELLENT.  Part of the reason I am so good at it, besides the fact that holy shit do I love eating, is I love it.  I love the freedom I get from throwing a little of this in, a little of that in, tweaking and tasting and turning ingredients into a goddamn feast.  People will ask me for a recipe, though, and I can tell them roughly what I used and did but I can't tell them for sure what exactly the recipe is.  The reason is that I don't do recipes.  This isn't an abnormal thing, I know plenty of people that cook without recipes, just like I know people that can play an instrument or sing perfectly without reading music.  

Now I know what you're thinking.  How can someone that loves cooking hate baking?  They're the same thing.  No, my friends, it is not.  Not even close.  Cooking offers you a lot of latitude that baking does not.  My dislike of baking goes deeper than just not particularly caring for it.  I told my dad the other week, and now I am telling you.  Baking offends me.  

You heard me right.  Baking is nothing short of a personal affront to me.

The reason it offends me so much is it's bossy.  It's all perfectly measured and timed and if you veer from that, it turns out all messed up and shitty.  I don't even own measuring spoons and I have but one Pyrex measuring cup, and the only reason I even have that is because it was my grandma's and it was in the house when I got here.  It's irrational, I know, but when I read recipes, I get all twisted up inside.  Sift together 2 cups flour with 1 teaspoon each of baking powder and baking soda.  Using a pastry cutter, (Are you kidding me?  Who spends money on something you can use a fork for?!), cut chilled butter into flour mixture.  Using chilled beaters, whip egg whites until they form stiff peaks.  Grease and flour bottom of a 9x9 metal baking pan.  Bake 6 minutes, or until edges are light golden brown, do not overbake.

Oh.  Em.  Gee.  Fuck you Betty Crocker, Pillsbury, Paula Deen and Food Network.  You are not the boss of me.

I got home from Florida yesterday and was very excited to check my garden.  I finally have ripe tomatoes that didn't even make it into the house because Bean and Midge ate them right off the plants.  I plucked a few peppers and plenty of cucumbers.  There was a zucchini that was twice the size of any child I have ever given birth to, and at that point the only thing they are good for is harvesting seeds for next years crop so I tossed that one.  I did end up with a couple of beautiful dark green Black Beauty zucchini and I put them into the fridge.  I got home from work today and in the fruit bowl sat four spotted brown bananas that I know nobody will eat before tomorrow.  I learned a valuable lesson about myself today.  Apparently my distaste for wasting food is greater than my hatred of baking.  

I have eleven of these and two loaves of zucchini bread cooling in my kitchen.  Who am I?

I looked up recipes for banana and zucchini bread, and if you ever get to eat something I baked and you want the recipe, I can assure you that you can find it by googling whatever baked good it is and it will be the first link you find.  I've neither the time nor the inclination to pour through that shit and pick out which one looks the best.  I did, of course, flip the proverbial bird to the recipes and added some things NOT called for.  As far as I'm concerned, anything that calls for cinnamon can stand a little nutmeg and allspice too.  I never add salt either, because quite frankly, nothing lasts long enough around here to require a preservative.

Red came in from work and sniffed the air immediately.  I refused to acknowledge her as she carefully made her way to the kitchen with a little bit of hope in her eyes.  Last time she and Banana came in and it smelled this good, their hopes for warm, delicious baked goods were crushed when I told them that it was a candle that smelled so good.  Heh.  She gasped and trotted back out to the living room and asked if I was seeing grandpa tomorrow.

She was very excited when I told her no and she could help herself.  Last time I baked I threatened to stab them all with a fork if they even thought of helping themselves to my dad's zucchini bread.  Mother of the year.


  1. I love cooking and hate baking for the same reason as you. Baking is for uncreative nerds. Plus my sister loves it, so she covers all my baking bases. Wait, did I just call her an uncreative nerd?

  2. Okay. I was reading through a few of the older blogs and I was thinking the whole time that I was reading this one that I LOVE baking and then I happened to read this comment from this girl and thought, "That wasn't a very nice thing to say about her sister. " Then I realized that it was written by a girl named Norah.......and I have a sister named Norah.