Making breakfast every morning is not so bad, especially since most of my kids can pour their own cereal and milk. I will even occasionally make them an omelette or cheesy eggs or pancakes when it strikes my fancy.
Making sandwiches every afternoon can sometimes get my goat, especially since I have to line up the bread in assembly line fashion, 14 slices at a time. But I still spread the peanut butter and stack the turkey breast and cheese with love, because lunch lady duty is certainly not the worst chore in the world.
Making dinner every night is what sometimes makes me vexed, especially when I plan and shop and prepare and chop and sauté and grill and boil and toil, only to be met with insulting commentary from the peanut gallery.“Can I have a sandwich for dinner?” “What’s that smell?” followed by a gagging noise. “What’s for dinner tonight? Can I stop and pick up something because I’m REALLY hungry?” “Is there any leftover pizza?”
But my favorite thing to do in the kitchen is bake. I just love making cupcakes and cookies and pies and muffins and cakes. Especially the cakes! I love the smells that fill the house and I love flour on the counters and the perfect sweetness of a really good vanilla extract. I learned my mad baking skills from my mom and from her mom as well. They showed me how to sift flour and to grease a pan and to whip cream into perfectly stiff peaks. They taught me to bake bread and pie crusts and fill cream puffs, all made from scratch. I learned how to flavor and spread real icing, drizzle chocolate melted in a double-boiler, and how to make art come out of a pastry bag. The rest I have learned from watching hours of cooking shows and even more hours of trial and error. There is little that can make me so happy as a cake made and decorated in my own kitchen to celebrate someone I love.
As I have struggled with my stupid thighs and general time management over the years, so I have used mixes and canned shortcuts and cheaters, and even foregone the desserts altogether. It was just easier that way. I bought finished products right from the grocery store. It got the job done, but it just wasn’t the same thing. Oh, how I have missed real baking. I missed it so much!
I recently rediscovered the love and I started baking again. This time around I mix the old school with a few shortcuts, and I try not to sample the goods as much. I also try to have a reason for baking… holidays, birthdays, rainy days, PMS… you know, something legit. We celebrate five family birthdays throughout the month of September, two in this house alone, so I have had an excuse to bake until my heart is content.
Kid E’s 5th birthday came first and he let me bake him the moon. I made 24 cupcakes to bring to his school, a traditional double-layer round decorated cake which we used to sing “Happy Birthday” to him on his birthday, and an additional 24 cupcakes to “have around.” What? Cupcake Emergencies are a real thing. I even let him choose icing colors and decorate his own cake. It was fabulous.
When Kid B’s 14th birthday rolled around, you’d think that I was all baked out, but no! I was on a roll. Bring on the sheet cakes, bring on the fancy decorations. I set aside a day just for baking on the weekend prior to her actual birthday. My mixer and my spatula were ready. I was about to explode with the baking love. I even offered to try making icing roses (if she wanted a girly cake), or an icing field that looked like actual grass (if she opted for the soccer theme).
So, I guess it was predictable that teenage Kid B asked for an ice cream cake from the store.
I definitely feel a Cupcake Emergency coming on now.
Wish me luck for tomorrow…