I don’t do a lot of baking.
I find it stressful usually, the fact that it’s a science really (unlike cooking, which is an art) and there’s no room for error. I’m not terrible at it, I just have a hard time following the
rules recipes. It’s too rigid for my liking , so other than the occasional zucchini or banana loaf, or the obligatory bake sale effort, my cheap, $15 Walmart mixer stays in the basement. With the tub of flour, and the baking tins.
In the past, I’ve opted not to bake at Christmas. Partly because if Tay’s aunt is visiting, she’s a much better baker than I could ever be. Partly I’m lazy. Partly I’m insecure about my efforts and that they’re never magazine pretty.
But this year, this year I’ve been homesick and I’ve been missing my family fiercely (my mother especially) and a little voice in my head told me to bake. So I did.
I put together a list of the items I wanted to make (nanaimo bars, molasses crinkles, Mexican wedding cakes/Russian tea cakes and chocolate covered peanut butter balls). I made a list and hit the local Bulk Barn, twenty minutes before they closed one evening and came home with more icing sugar than I’ll ever use (I miscalculated) and barely enough chocolate chips (I seriously thought $10 worth would be enough).
The Bulk Barn, by the way, uses the point of sale software that Taylor wrote years ago, and I get a kick out of seeing his copyright and our last name on the terminal when I’m paying for our groceries. The small grocery store in Bala where we’ve vacationed a couple of years in a row also uses his software. Once, when we were doing our shopping, I pointed to his name on the screen, then pointed to Taylor and told the cashier that that was him. She in turn told the other cashiers and they gathered around almost as though they’d discovered Brad Pitt shopping in their midst. I’m not sure if Taylor realizes it, but I think his fifteen minutes of fame happened right then and there because a few weeks later, when I tried the same thing at the local Bulk Barn, I received bored indifference. Except the other night, when I was shopping at Bulk Barn and the cashier and I were discussing how helpful it is for the customer to write the product code on the cardboard tab, I told her the story about why just writing the code isn’t enough because what happens when you forget what’s in the bag and all you have as an identifier is the #612?
In my case, I was able to explain my dilemma to my husband and provide him the number and he was able to access a database log on his computer and minutes later he was back downstairs informing me that 612 is, in fact, baking soda, and was that what I was hoping it’d be?
Did she want to know how he could tell me what the item was? I asked the cashier in all seriousness and when she replied with a very enthusiastic yes (because she was hanging onto my every word obviously), I pointed to the name on the screen and said, “That’s my husband. He knows every single code in your system.”
I didn’t add that he has a database with all the product codes and therefore she probably thinks I’m married to Rain Man but that doesn’t matter because she was suitably impressed. And these young people? Working at Bulk Barn in the evenings and on the weekends? They don’t impress easily.
Anyhow, the point is I baked and I bought most of my supplies at Bulk Barn, not because it’s necessarily cheaper, but because I don’t have to buy a huge bag of an ingredient that I will never use all of and it will sit in my cupboard until I need the space and then it goes in the trash.
I’m baking nanaimo bars and I need exactly one and a quarter cups of graham cracker crumbs? Then that’s what I buy.
I made my molasses crinkles on Saturday and my peanut butter balls on Sunday.
On Monday, I made the nanaimo bars:
And on Tuesday I made the Mexican wedding cakes and forgot to take a photo. But then, I sat down and packed at least three quarters of what I’d baked into festive tins to give away. To the staff at the old job, to friends, to the woman at the gym daycare. And included this tag because I’d hate to send anyone into anaphylactic shock on Christmas:
I wanted the therapeutic comfort of baking (and not added calories) and it worked, the more I baked the happier I became, and the more I gave away, the less I ate. A win-win.
And while I still miss my mother, and my sisters, I don’t miss them as much. And that’s really helpful, this time of year.