Monday, December 19, 2011

Cookie trauma: The drama in the kitchen

Christmas is a week away, so it comes as no surprise that every other picture I'm seeing on Instragram is of someone's fabulous cookies that they just baked.

Dozens of beautiful cookies, perfectly frosted with homemade icing and dazzling sprinkes. I'm also reading Facebook status after Facebook status of: "Baked six dozen gingerbread men cookies today for my cookie exchange, and a chocolate layer cake, and then I cooked a seven course dinner for my family while polishing my silver and did two back-to-back Body Pump classes!" Okay, maybe not that extreme, but you know what I mean. There are some serious bakers out there, yo.

For some bizarre reason, I get the urge to bake every weekend. I start out all excited, and use Twitter as my Google, asking questions to people I know are excellent in the kitchen.

"What IS buttermilk? Is it, like, cream?"
"What is a pound of butter? 4 sticks?"
"Is parchment paper the same as wax paper?"
"Is it okay if I forgot to use only the white of the eggs? How the hell am I supposed to get out only the white of the eggs, anyway?"

"1/4 teaspoon is pretty much 1/2 teaspoon, right?"
"I forgot the sprinkes on the cookies I just baked. Can I just add them now?"

And so on, and so on. Week after week, I try to bake, and week after week, I am completely unsatisfied with the time I wasted in my kitchen, trying to do something I am miserable at. And then! I have to clean up my kitchen! Some people are just not meant to bake. I am one of those people. I would rather shove my face in snow than bake. I would rather clean bathrooms all day. I would rather anything else, really.

Last year, I stressed about baking and came to terms with the fact that I wasn't going to be making any Martha Stewart type cookies for the holidays. I was going to stick to good old-fashioned sugar cookies, and I was going to be okay with that.

This year, even sugar cookies took a turn for the worst. Also, related: I always confuse sugar cookies and shortbread cookies, and still don't know which ones I prefer.

I work full-time during the week, so I spend all my time with my boys on the weekends just being in the moment. I bake mostly so my children can remember their mother and the smell of baked goods in the kitchen when they're older, but truth be told, the excitement to help me bake lasts a total of three minutes for my boys, and then they're off doing something a lot more exciting. I also usually end up yelling at them for spilling all the flour or having icing sugar fights, and that's when I want to give up. But I never do. I will finish every project I start, even though I am not enjoying myself.

Cookies you'll never see baked by me:


Not ever:


Cookies I baked today:


They're pretty bad, right?

I forgot to add the sprinkles to the first batch of cookies I baked. In a desperate attempt to save them, I added the sprinkles after I took them out of the oven. That didn't work, as you can see. I got brave with the second batch, and made icing sugar for the cookies (or whatever it's called) and the icing sugar looked awful. How people get it looking so perfect, I'll never understand. After all that hard work - we're talking hours here - I gave up, and spent the next hour cleaning my kitchen, cursing myself under my breath.

Two hours later my three year old wandered into the kitchen and accidentally dropped all the cookies to the floor, breaking them all. This ended my awful day of baking with a bang.

It was the bang, the awakening, that I needed. I am done. Done with baking. If anyone needs nice Christmas cookie cutters, they're yours.

I have accepted that I am not meant to spend this much time in the kitchen. I am not going to attempt to bake cookies for Christmas again. And this makes me very, very happy. Sure, I'll still cook, since I have a family to feed, and yes, there are quite a few meals I'm great at making. (Even though I have set off the fire alarm too many times to count.) I am also great at making carrot cake and cream cheese icing, so a few times a year, I'll bake the one thing I'm good at. Other than that? No more.

Next year, I'll just stick to the things I'm good at during the holidays: decorating the house, shopping for the people I love, and wrapping presents. I did work as a professional gift wrapper when I was in unveristy, you know!

Now, I can sit back and enjoy the amazing Greek baked goods my grandmother just dropped off, with no pressure on me.

It feels good, to accept to the truth.

14 comments:

Avitable said...

Baking is definitely about following instructions to the T, and I think that might not jibe with your general philosophy.

Kat said...

I agree with the above comment. Baking really is a science and while I love it, it can easily ruin your day when it goes wrong. Plus, I never find the decorating/icing part fun. I'd rather bake bread over cookies or cupcakes any day.

If you ever return to baking I have a 5 ingredient peanut butter and jam cookies recipe that is a staple. No one can mess it up - trust me, I've tried :)

amotherworld said...

They are not bad at all! Not all of us have to make professional-looking desserts, but that won't stop me from baking! Don't be so hard on yourself! Do it because you enjoy doing it with your kids :)

Tracy (@MomRedefined) said...

I don't think your cookies looked bad at all. But I understand... and wrapping presents is a great talent to have... I would love to learn how to wrap a present evenly without tearing the paper - and those fancy bows! We all have our talents :)

alimartell said...

Meh. Buying baked goods works the same for me...

:)

Julia Gabriel said...

Love your cookies. You are awesome and I think I will join you in the no more baking unless it's cake. Cake I can do...as long as it's out of a box.

Scattered Mom said...

I have cookies for you. They are so easy, they are impossible to mess up. You don't to bake or ice them, just stir up the ingredients in a pot, plop them out onto waxed paper, and put them in the fridge. If people say they look like $hit, then you can say it's because they are REINDEER POOP cookies.

http://www.chasingtomatoes.ca/2006/12/reindeer-poop-cookies.html

CaraBee said...

Funny thing, my cookies generally come out looking like yours (which I don't think are so bad, truly!) but I still kinda enjoy it. For me, it's as much about the activity as the outcome. I'm a glutton for punishment, I guess.

LeSombre said...

My daughter thought your cookies looked amazing. Until I told her yours were in the third picture. Now I have to make cookies (but like in the two first pictures).

;-)

Sara @ Domestically Challenged said...

As much as I hate cooking, i do love to bake! Crazy huh? I keep trying to get this whole "royal icing" thing figured out though, which is killing me!

sharon said...

Ha!!! I think it's important to know your strengths and weaknesses. I am not a baker either and no the pain that is looking at thy pictures of gorgeous cookies knowing full well mine will look like Tim Burton made them.

Nenette AM said...

You know, baking is a big pain in the ass even without kids around. I bake when I have to, like yesterday when my daughter volunteered me for the making of 21 cupcakes for her class's solstice party. And she helped too.

Baking does get easier when the kids are older. Mini is much more careful and coordinated at 7 than she was at 4. You know, in case you want to try again. ;)

Kate Coveny Hood said...

I consider myself to be a pretty good baker - but nothing I make looks all that pretty!

Your cookies look yummy - the messy ones are obviously home made - and home made ALWAYS tastes better. More importantly - the kids probably loved it.

You're a great mom!

Lisa said...

Oh my god, I feel your baking pain sister. My cookies are horrible. Ticks me off. How hard can it be? Really?? Sigh. I give up. That's the way the cookie crumbles I guess. :)

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