Once upon a time there was a little girl who could make babysitters cry…

06443029462bcbe897d59a3467928dc4_answer_6_xlarge10 o’clock at night and my girl is upstairs blasting Time Lord Rock while baking Rose Tyler esc cupcakes for a dear friend and fellow Whovian’s birthday. I have been told that she is quite capable of following the instructions and baking on her own. Agreed.

Then I hear “Moooooooooooooooooooooooooooooom, can I have your opinion on these cupcakes please? They are giant but liquid in the middle. How long should I put them back in for? And why do they taste like Cherry Cough Syrup?”

Good Question… Ask Grandma.

My mom was a good egg in lots of ways. She always let me listen the radio station of my choice when we were in the car. She didn’t care. Dad on the other hand would say “This stuff is utter crap, I can’t listen to this.” And the station would change to some oldie station playing Peter, Paul and Mary or the Limelighters. This would account for my obscure and amazing talent of knowing every song ever written between 1948 and 1989, this includes jingles and TV theme songs. It’s a handy talent for some great trivia games and for radio quiz shows where I get to win tickets to The Who and The Rolling Stones.

Mom would also encourage me to experiment in the kitchen. I learned the basics from her and my Aunty Mary Poppins, but the fine tuning I did on my own. I dad would eat ANYTHING I put in front of him and he would always say, “That is the best I ever had! Did I make it?” Between both my parents, that made me fearless in the kitchen. I am not a swell cook – but I am an AMAZING baker. There is a difference. I think some people can be great at both but often they are only good at one or the other.

My girl is a self proclaimed distraction in the kitchen. I let her do all kinds of baking and cooking experiments but there is usually some disaster that happens and we need to figure out how to fix it. To be honest, it isn’t always fixable, so we pack it up and give it to her Grandpa (my dad) who will eat ANYTHING and say it’s the best ever.

I remember baking on Friday nights when we had a babysitter because Mom and Dad were off Dancing  – I know…it was the olden days when people went dancing at the club – (as in country club) It sounds fancier than it was, but my parents loved it. We went through babysitters like some people go through socks. My brother and I were THE WORST KIDS EVER – not true  – were only bad if we didn’t like the babysitter. I liked the weak ones. The ones that were nice on the outside but I could make them cry in an instant. One time we had this gal, a neighbor of my grandma, she came over and wanted to play games or watch TV and I would say – no. I am baking cookies.

“Are you allowed to do that?”

Me: NO – are you kidding? Mom is going to kill you. “Yes, my mom lets me all the time.”

“Okay – call me if you need help”

Me: pfffff whatever – “okay”

I went into the pantry and pulled out all the ingredients for Quaker Oatmeal Cookies. The Just Add Water kind of cookie mix that mom would buy and add a billion things to for granola bars. I used an entire package (enough for 1000 cookies) and a gallon of water. I think it said one cup but the measuring cup was really big – I think it was 8 cups. But I filled it because it was still only one cup.

I had made cookie cake. It was liquid porridge. I couldn’t spoon it onto a cookie tray, it would run all over the place. So I left it in the bowl, put all the dirty dishes and baking garbage into the oven and shut the door.

I went to join the babysitter and my brother and said I changed my mind. I didn’t want to bake.

Later while I was fake sleeping, my mother called me into the kitchen.

She had the keen sense of Sherlock Holmes. There wasn’t a dish left out, yet she knew.

“What happened in here tonight?”

Me: I was fake tired and said “What???’ in my sleepy fake voice.

“This kitchen is a disaster!”

Me: What are you talking about? I hid the evidence. I knew I needed to stay silent.

“Were you making cookies?

Me: How does she know this stuff? Silence…………

“Where did you hide the stuff?” She looked around and likely saw a fingerprint on the oven door.

Then I remember the oven door opening and the angry voice lecturing me for what seemed like a week. But thankfully dad came home and sent me to bed.

Now that I am a parent myself, these are the thoughts that run through my head:

  1. Why would the babysitter let an 8 year old bake cookies unsupervised?
  2. Obviously mom saw the flour dust all over everything. What is clean to an 8 year old is not clean to a mom.
  3. Why didn’t my parents just lock us up under the stairs to go out? We tortured babysitters for fun. How we make it out of our childhood alive is beyond me.
  4. I always thought my mom was crazy about cleanliness – I still do.
  5. Why did my parents change babysitters so frequently? Did the girls just say no? I would – but to be fair, I could talk those girls into anything and I think they didn’t expect that from a kid. I was the evil emperor of kids needing supervision. Let’s face it, after every girl in Sherwood Park failed and became brainwashed by my charms, there wasn’t a whole lot for them to do. They became powerless. I would put my sister to bed, I would talk my brother into running away or hiding or really – anything to make the sitter never wanting to come back. I’m sure my parents paid well, but sometimes no job is EVER worth it.

Meanwhile, my daughter just made cupcakes that taste like cough syrup and I am proud like I am raising a little me. Luckily her grandfather lives a block from the school, so when her friends don’t eat the cupcakes – he will.

And the family tradition continues….only the dirty dishes better not be hidden in the stove.

The baking is done and so am I

gooey-cookies

A long time ago, perhaps only last year, I could take on more than humanly possible. I think it was genetic or stupid…without a substantial research grant, I will not be able to quantify the data. Let’s call it genetic, shall we?

When I was little, around 10ish, I was finally old enough to be a real help in the kitchen. One of my mom’s hobbies was cooking. When I say cook, I am not talking your run of the mill meat loaf or casserole. My mom was a Julia Childs fan in a BIG WAY. She watched Julia on cooking shows and Graham Kerr the Galloping Gourmet when ever she was home and could catch it on. These were the days before VCRs and my mom worked full time.

I would come home from school, call my mom and she would give me instructions on how to start dinner. She was very good at giving step by step instructions so I could visualize them in my head. Eventually, all of us kids learned to cook via the phone method and we would take turns preparing meals, all of us but dad. He was the official taste tester. It was his job to tell us “it was the best thing he every tasted” whether it was or not. I honestly believe that is why we all are better cooks than we use to be. He gave us the confidence to try new things. Even if it tasted like dog food, my dad would eat it and say it was the best ever!

Every year around the Grey Cup (Canada’s Superbowl…not really but it whatever) Mom would have finalized her Christmas Baking list and purchased all the supplies she needed. We would then get to work. By dinner time, the house would be filled with hundreds of cookies, squares, tarts and candy. The idea was, if you are making a mess in the kitchen, go big or go home. It was fun. Sometimes my grandma and aunt would come over and it would be a girls day baking. Those were fun times! I had kept up that tradition until this year.

Today I had the intention of baking several different batches of cookies and several buckets full of various flavoured candy popcorn. The result?

I made it as far as two batches of cookies and think “Who the hell is going to clean up this mess?” I am knackered.

Lemon Crinkles and Chocolate chip cookies made the cut. Ginger Sparklers and Short Bread may or may not get done this year. I am pretty sure tarts are out of the question. I did manage to whiz up the candy canes in the food processor for peppermint dust on the chocolate covered popcorn. But that is the extent of my ambition. Oh, and I made tea.

Now I need a nap.

Martha I am NOT

I won Wilton Cookie Press from hanging around Chef’s MidniteChefs blog, facebook page and her twitter @midnitechef . (Chef is a local girl who transplanted to Texas. Her recipes are delicious! How do I know? I have made quite a few!) It arrived in the mail today!

I busted open the package because I was so excited to give it a try! I love baking and am pretty darn good at it! Cooking…not so much in spite of the fact I had a fabulous teacher – my mom – cooking is just not my thing. I think it is important to enjoy what you are doing, it becomes obvious with the result. my cooking won’t kill you, but I’d rather do dishes thanks. When it comes to baking, that is a whole different story. Cookies are my specialty, but pies, tarts, custards, cakes, squares…and anything else you can think of, I am pretty darn good at if I do say so myself. What my Aunty didn’t teach me, I learned from Martha Stewarts baking 101. So when the Cookie Press arrived in the mail, I was pretty cocky. I was damn sure they would be fabulous! I even took pictures to brag blog about it!

I pulled my girl out from her home in the pantry and plugged her in. Creamed the butter and sugar together, then added an egg and vanilla. REAL Vanilla, not artificial stuff, and I go a step further and use Mexican Vanilla. The stuff you bring home from Mexico. Really People, leave the Tequila there, or better yet, drink it. Save room for the vanilla, you will be glad you did!

When I looked at the recipe, I saw it needed 1 1/2 cups of butter. Holy Heart Attack on a Plate Batman! In my head I was thinking a pound and a half…I am glad that didn’t make sense to me and I re-read it. By the time all the rest of the ingredients were added, it smelled like sugar cookies should.

The next part was stuffing the cookie press full of cookie dough…simple enough! Then choosing the end I wanted. I chose a few different ones and changed it out each time I re-filled the press.

I was able to squirt an entire cookie sheet with one fill. The problem was, that cookie press was finicky! Inconsistent pressure made for inconsistent cookies. I HATE THAT! I use a ice cream scoop or a melon baller to make all my cookies the EXACT SAME SIZE. It has long been established that I am OCD about such things. My cookies came out in blobs or squirts missing sections. I finally got the knack of it, then I would change the tip. For every tip, the pressure was different and I needed to start again with the practice….

By the time I was ready for the last fill, I had it down pat. I chose a square pattern that squirted out little balls. This is where I REALLY messed up. The last sheet of cookies are loving refered to as Cookie Niblets. I didn’t put enough pressure on the press to have the cookie stay together. That’s okay, cookie niblets will go good on ice cream or in trail mix…or for midnite munching.

I will have to give this thing another try, possibly use a different recipe to see if that makes a difference. Never fear Martha, your empire is still safe. Meanwhile…I have 7km to do tomorrow to make up for the cookie sampling I did tonight 🙂

*Editors Note: Fancy speak for did I screw up and now I am fixing it! So after clean up, I discover there is a ratchet that I did not engage…no WONDER it was so hard!!!! Next time…I’ll get it right next time…