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:
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.