450 Degrees, Please!

Cookies, pies, cakes, anything that has some flour or maybe not.  I am the definition of a stress baker.  It started off as a simple way to just handle the quiet times, when I wasn’t really in the mood to talk but felt like doing something for another.  There have to be three shelves worth of cookbooks from various cultures sitting in the den of my house.  Collections of recipes passed down from my great-aunt who left me everything she had written down.  I’m sitting on generations worth of family favorites, some I have made others I just don’t care about.

I’m not much of the type to go out and buy someone flowers.  You can do that only so many times, but I can try a thousand different cookie recipes and bring them to you.  It’s not about the time and effort for me, it’s all about doing something personal.  I know you like caramel anything, so I go out and find a recipe that works for you.

When I first got together with the ex, I would make something new every few days.  Bring it in to the office and just leave it on her desk.  Sometimes I would wrap it up and make a presentation of it, other times I just found a tin laying about the house.  Put a ribbon on it, Lary was done.  It helped deal with the nerves of a new relationship, trying to do something unique.  It took one of her friends to get her to realize what the deal was!

Over the years, people noticed that when I couldn’t figure out something at work or was just generally moody in came some type of baked anything.  I could sit in the kitchen with the stereo going and just make a general mess of the place [not really, the kitchen is the one room in the house I have total O.C.D. about!].  People would come over and see piles of cookies or 6 loaves of banana bread and ask where the party was.  During the holidays I could get away with just going bat-shit crazy baking anything people asked for.

My brother doesn’t have the patience for it.  He’s a great cook, uses a little too much salt in some things for my taste; but baking is something he fails at every time.  You can’t just throw things in a bowl and hope they turn out.  There’s a science to it all, the right amount of baking powder and you’re good to go.  Too much sugar and you know it the minute you bite into the cupcake.

I like trying minor variations on themes, a little orange extract in some fudge I’ve made.  Maybe I did the entire thing in a gluten-free, sugar-free variety.  And that takes some effort, lots of times I have thrown out the end result because I wouldn’t serve it to the dog, who is rather picky about her own food.

The family I’m staying with has been the benefactor in a huge way from my late night wandering.  The kitchen is isolated from the rest of the house, noise just doesn’t carry from here.  They laugh because even though I don’t eat meat, I’ve still grilled them a steak.  It’s not that hard people!  While my weight has been going down, theirs has been sneaking up.  Another lovely side-effect of medications.  They’ve suffered through the pile of pineapple-coconut bars I made last week, little bites disappearing when they think no one is paying attention.

Baking is something I like to do for other people.  I end up feeling better about myself and others seem to benefit from my attempts.  Some days when it all is just getting to me in a way I can’t work myself out from under, into the kitchen I go.  For me there’s a bit of history in some if the recipes I employ, memories of family who taught me in the first place.  And yes, there is still a part of me that misses the smile I would see when those brownies would end up on someone’s desk.  But I’ll come to terms with that at some point as well.

In response to The Daily Post’s writing prompt: “On the Edge.”


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