Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Bringing Out My Inner B****

Baker, what were you all thinking?

After ballet today, Josie asked if we could go to one of the local cafes for a vegan cookie. In a moment of lunacy I thought I was one of those homeschooling moms. You know the type; perfect, making batches and batches of great tasting baked goods for their brood while knitting all the clothes for the kids and teaching the family dog sign language at the same time teaching college level classes to their seven year old and administering first aid to the baby bunny they found on their daily nature walk and blogging about the entire day in their spare time*.

So I promised delicious fresh-baked cookies to Josie as I bundled her up for the bike ride home. I managed to put off baking cookies pretty much the entire day because to be perfectly honest baking does not bring out the best in me. It brings out my inner two year old.

I open up the cookbook (in this case, Vegan Diner by Julie Hasson) and I'm immediately irrationally defiant. Oatmeal Raisin Cookies is the one I chose since they are Rob's favorite type of cookie, I have all the ingredients (sort of, we'll get to that in a minute) and aren't they supposed to be one of the easiest thing to bake?

I am not known for following recipes. I used them as a jumping off point or sometimes as something to read while I make something completely different, but following a recipe to the letter...not my style.**

So I start to question everything. What do you mean "preheat the oven to 350 degrees F"? Is that good for the environment?***  "1 cup plus 2 tablespoons packed light brown sugar". Whoah, wait a minute, aren't we working toward a color blind society? What do you have against dark brown sugar?**** Hm?***** Soften the margarine? F that, I'm keeping that stick of Earth Balance in the refrigerator where it belongs until the last possible second.

Okay, now maybe I'm acting more like a teenager. Most kids at two don't know their alphabet well enough to say "F that". "3 Tablespoons of soymilk or almond milk"? I have both soy and almond milks, but I use unsweetened coconut milk just to mess with this recipe. It has somehow become personal. "In a large bowl of a stand mixer, beat together the..."? I have a stand mixer, but just because YOU told me to use a stand mixer I am using my 50 year old hand mixer. Got something against my antique hand mixer? Not good enough for you? "Don't overbeat the batter." Like this? Overheating my hand mixer and then kneaded the crap out of the dough isn't good enough for your wimpy dough? I don't have any use for delicate cookie dough in my house.

Wrestling with sticky dry dough, checking to make sure I did indeed put all the wet ingredients in the mix, and ignoring the fact that it was suggested that I wet my hands prior to forming the cookies, cursing all baked goods under my breath, and finally throwing the two baking sheets in the oven. No I did not press them down a bit as per the instructions. If they want to flatten into cookies instead of being a ball lump, they had better melt. I gobbled up some of the remaining dough because at this point there is no way in hell I'm going to cook another batch. Disgusted with the raw sugary sweetness I encourage Rob and then Josie to eat the rest of the dough.

The kicker was the truly helpful note at the bottom. It starts with "As a perfectionist cookie baker..." and this pushes my perfectionist buttons and I go through all the reasons we should or shouldn't strive for "perfection" and guilt issues about not following the directions and not heading the warnings which were meant just to help me make the best cookies I can possibly bake. This drama could be exasperated by the fact I just started my period today.******
Leave the cookies on the cookie sheet until the completely cool? Hell no, I'm taking those bad boys off so soon I cause 2nd degree burns on my fingers so I can use the last bit of daylight to snap a crappy picture. So there! I really showed that recipe, damn these cookies aren't half bad. I think I'll eat six...

Why don't I bake more often?*******

*Spare time is code for nursing the baby.

**Unless I'm testing recipes for a cookbook. It just shows how much I love helping new vegan cookbooks birth into the world.

***I read somewhere years ago that most of the time we really don't need to wait until the oven is preheated and it is a big waste of energy, but I'm guessing wherever I read this that they made some exclusion for cookies.

****For some reason we have two packages of dark brown sugar, several packages of powdered sugar (which we rarely use...where did they come from?), and date sugar, but no light brown sugar.

*****I want to be clear I am not talking to Julie Hasson. I don't know her personally, but on her blog and in videos she seems like about the cutest nicest person on the planet. In fact while I'm getting belligerent with the recipe, I'm saying a little mental prayer-like apology to Ms. Hasson as I pretty much go against everything she has carefully written.

******Yes, I have just joined the list of food bloggers who talk about menstruation during a post about cookies.

*******Visions of my kids creating a cool cookie jar in pottery and me filling it with healthy-ish baked goods and the kids self-regulating their sweets consumption while they remodel our kitchen with the math skills they learned at home.


Rachel said...

* This is hilarious. I can relate to that push for perfection, though not while homeschooling. Perfection is so overrated.

** Baking, for me, translates to "you mean I have to measure things?" most of the time, but sometimes it's fun. If you bake the same things often enough, you can begin to "eyeball" them. I'm almost there with biscuits.

*** The cookies look gorgeous. I'm sure the coconut milk was a superior substitution.

VeganLinda said...

I can't wait to get there with baking. Rob's grandmother at 92 was chastising her daughters (in their 60's and 70's) for measuring to make biscuits. She just took the ingredients from them and said if they had to measure, she would just do it herself. That woman could make biscuits in her sleep. :-)