Wednesday, December 21, 2005

Sarah can't bake.

I must have been absent that day of Kindergarten math class when they taught us how to measure.

I was just in the kitchen, in the bubble of solo baking, unaware of the fact that time was passing outside of my little 3 X 6 cubicle. (It just took me over an hour to get that cake in the oven.) I was covered with flour and batter, standing over bowls and measuring cups and spoons, laughing and laughing and laughing about how much time I was wasting on this cake which, when the buzzer dings (right, like I use a buzzer), will be gross cake.

Literally. Back in my Cambridge days, Dee (one of my roommates at the time and also one of my very best friends) and I used to make dinner together. We’d pull out our secret weapon, cake mix, and the accessories, egg whites, applesauce, and Splenda (wait, had Splenda been discovered yet?). We’d mix our cake (or cookies) with one goal in mind: fat free. It would be chewy, too sweet, and kinda gross; it would be dinner. We called it Gross Cake/Cookies. “What do you want for dinner tonight? Gross Cookies?” “Sure!”

FAT FREE FAT FREE FAT FREE, the words would haunt me, back in my obsessed with fat free food days (pre low carb revolution—so we must’ve used real sugar rather than Splenda).

So…back to the kitchen. I started out deciding that I would be extra careful with my measuring for this cake. But I just couldn’t give up my substitutions. So I substituted Splenda for sugar (but I measured!), some whole wheat flour for regular (measured!), 1.5 jumbo eggs for 2 large (leaving out part of the second yolk), and, of course, apple sauce for oil. (Those who know anything about dieting will know that I’m mixing diets and mixing diets means canceling out the benefits of both. Y’see, applesauce has the sugar of the sugar I omitted—so I’m mixing low carb (i.e. Splenda) with low fat (i.e. applesauce), and, quite frankly, that’s dumb. And the whole wheat flour in a cake—yuck.)

So I’m following the recipe just as it’s written. (Well, not mixing the dry and wet ingredients separately doesn’t count because we all know that’s just a hoax.) (Oh, cranberries are really hard to chop, so I put them in whole.)

But then it says to pour the batter into tins. Batter (b'lilah raka)? I’ve got thick, thick dough (b'lila avah); it’s practically bread (it's got an entirely different halachic status--I'm taking a whole class on the laws of bread). So I took out some and made scones. And then I added water to the rest to make it into batter. And I added a drop more applesauce. I would’ve added more orange juice, but I had drunk it already. But then this new batter tasted kind of bland, so I added more Splenda (unmeasured).

And now…the cakes! (drumroll please)

The scones are….quite good!

The cake is…well, YOU probably wouldn’t eat it. But as one of the co-founders of Gross Cake, I’m looking forward to my low fat low car treat!

Strawberry Fields Forever

I have the day off because of the transit strike, so after a leisurely morning of Barnes & Noble and Cosi, I decided to do some baking. I stopped at my local grocery store to get ingredients, came home, put on my cooking clothes, and got to work. Not five minutes after changing, I realized that I was missing key ingredient #1: flour. I went back and forth for a while as to whether my cake might be good enough with whole wheat flour before grudgingly changing back into my grocery shopping outfit and braving the cold.

I went outside and scrunched up my nose—yuck, burning rubber. A wave of panic: did I leave my oven or stove on?—no, I haven’t cooked in days. Is there a blanket near the heater in my room?—no, heat hasn’t worked in days. Okay, I thought, I’m safe.

And I was, and I am. But unfortunately, down the street, fire engines were screaming (and still are, as I write this) toward the scene of a smoking building. I saw no flames, yet the sight was still shocking and horribly upsetting. I still do not know how bad the fire was (is still?) or what, if any, the casualties are, but the air around me was filled with smoke. It was very scary.

Refusing to walk closer and gape with the prurient spectators, I continues walking hurriedly back to the supermarket. (I am not so much self-righteous as I am fond of the word “prurient”.) I passed the entrance to the market four times, engrossed in my anxiety as the smoke rose around me. (Flour is on sale for $.99!)

I just turned the news on, but the only reports are on the transit strike—“the illegal, selfish strike of 2005”, as described by Mayor Bloomberg, who must now walk over the Brooklyn Bridge in order to get to work every morning (well, he doesn’t actually have to, but he is anyways, with throngs of people around him, for that New York solidarity that I have now witnessed and love). I know it sucks for New York and for New Yorkers with jobs, families, and busy lives, but it’s given me a jump start on my winter vacation, and I’m a walker anyways.

Amidst all the commotion I am consciously being a (sometimes) disciplined active person. (In other words, for a person who prefers videos, popcorn, and pajamas to getting out and going out, it is taking astute attention and motivation to experience the pretty cool life that New York has to offer.) The opera (Carmen, box seats and dressed to impress)! The museums! The Christmas windows (tomorrow night’s plan)! The bars! I’ve been doing it all! I even got free tickets and went to the season’s finale of The Apprentice (live)! And I went to Strawberry Fields for John Lennon’s memorial! And I joined a Scrabble group!

And I walk about 3 miles a day.

And now I’m going to go bake a cake, either in muffin or bundt form. Cranberry nut, yum yum yum. Wanna come over? I also have hot chocolate…


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