Sometimes I like to bake. Generally I like to err on the side of self-deprecation, but I have to say, I am a fantastic baker. My Dad tells me that you have to know a thing to be really good at something, like, for example, farming. Farmer Friend Lee knows a thing about farming, knows how to look at a field, feel the dirt, and say, here's what we're gonna do. My Dad knows a thing about how to make good pancakes. I know a thing about how to bake. It's like a horse sense, but for cakes.
Cookies, cakes, pies, scones, shortbreads, I got it. This is a generally unrecognized talent of mine, which now that I think about, is kind of offensive. I'm very proud of my skill. Once I threw a cup of water on my younger sister, first thing in the morning, because she said Dad said her cookies were the best he'd ever had. False. I make the best cookies in the world. Because I know a thing! I have an uncanny ability to sense when something needs to come out of the oven. UNCANNY. I'm also fearless--Boston Cream Pie? Checked that off the list when I was 13! Orange Chiffon Bundt Cake with caramel sauce? Took care of that at a tender 14! Happy Birthday, Mom! I made a peach pie that was to die for, my lemon poppyseed shortbread was perfection, I tackled a low-fat zucchini bread that tasted like Paula Deen had her way with it. And I do it from scratch. Did you know that some people don't even know that's possible? Fascinating.
I don't bake often, but when I do, I do it extremely well. Not two hours ago I pulled a perfect german chocolate cake out of the oven. Moist. Crumbly. Beautifully iced in coconut pecan frosting. I can't do much, but I can bake a mean cake. I have two theories as to why I am not associated with baking. Baking is very domestic, and generally domestic isn't the first word that comes to mind when someone thinks of me. Maybe I'm too sarcastic for that. I don't know. Too tough? Rough around the edges? Or really maybe I just don't practice the art enough. People are always surprised that I cook well too. I'm good. I know a thing. I have been known to look like a homeless person, but I can throw a meal together faster than you can shake a stick at.
It only reinforces my belief that I am a chameleon, a jack of all trades, a Renaissance women. Ha ha try and touch me. I will dance away from your every challenge, every mean-spirited blow, and I will do that better than you too! I am not conceited. Just very self-confident. Except in math. Here's an embarrassing story: I wrote a paper for my Politics and Literature class and got an A++++++. A Ralphie grade! It was literally 50/50. My professor's only comment? He crossed out the 3.2 million I had written in for the population of the United States and wrote 320 million. I thought that 320 million was the same thing as 3.2 million. I remember googling it when I was writing the paper, seeing 320 million, and writing down 3.2 million. I had to get my dear friend Morgan, who is infinitely wiser and smarter than me, to tell me what the difference is.
Do you know why I made a cake tonight? I was frustrated with what I've been working on. I'm collecting articles right now for papers I have due next week, and I wasn't getting what I needed, and it's all theoretical and abstract and I felt like I'd been working and working but had nothing to show for it. So I made a cake. And it's on my counter. And it's proof that I can make something and do it well. Really well. There is a start, when you have nothing. Eggs, flour, baking powder, chocolate. There's a middle, when you put it together, carefully, carefully, because you can't over beat the batter. And then you put it in the oven, and I know when they're done. And then out comes a cake. The result of hard work and intelligence and labor. A beautiful thing.
I have a sneaking suspicion also that my ability to function in the kitchen comes from years and years of watching my Dad cook, and that's also a little comforting. You know I clean while I cook? Everything gets put back so my counter doesn't get crowded. I shut cupboards, always. How do you think I learned not to over beat batter? Where do I know to scrape the sides of the bowl, 1, 2, 3, get all the flour off the sides? How could I know onions are done being sauted when they're transparent and you can smell them? Riddle me this. I don't remember being taught this, but I know I know. Anyway. If there's one thing I do know for sure, it's never question your own greatness.