Me in the kitchen, it's not pretty. Now, I consider myself to be of above average intelligence (and modest too), so why the culinary arts fail me is beyond even my comprehension, especially given all the ladies in my family through the generations are great cooks. All Portuguese women can whip up something super delicious at a moments notice, but me. Oh no. I need weeks of preparation, I need recipes, I need to plan for these things as though my life depends on it. And even then...I fail and I fail epically.
Case in point I submit my father's birthday cake a few years ago. Living in the Bay Area we have Williams Sonoma *angels sing and harps play*. There you can find anything and everything for a true chef, a master of culinary arts - yet, they allow me to enter their store. I usually keep a low profile or risk getting kicked out and labeled an impostor with my photo taped to the wall of shame. Well I decided in a moment of brilliance that I'm going to bake dad a cake as I'll be visiting the family for his birthday. So I pick up a pretty cake pan with a fleur de lis design and fancy smancy cake in a box that I'm told, "Oh darling, you can't screw this up if you tried, you just add butter and milk" and I think eggs...do you put eggs in a cake? Anyway!
I drive 3 hours to the valley, a prideful little peacock I am with my cake pan and cake mix. Later in the evening I announce to the family that I will be baking dad a cake! They tried to discourage me, offering to run to the supermarket to pick up a cake, but please...don't insult me! I have a spiced something rather cake in a box from William's Sonoma. I begin by gathering the ingredients, reading the instructions, buttering the cake pan, preheating the oven, blah blah blah. Cake goes in the oven, I breath a sigh of relief and no one died. So far, successful.
It's time, the cake should be done. We bring it out of the oven, wait a bit for it to cool, each minute my heart beats louder and louder, people start gathering in the kitchen and I'm feeling pretty confident like a prized horse expected to take the derby and run off with the loot! Alas, I invert the cake onto a plate and expect to feel a little give, you know that feeling, when cakes drop onto the plate from the pan. Yes well I don't know that feeling! I pull the cake pan up, there's the cake, stuck in the pan. My family begins to snicker. Supporting? Ha! Not my tough-love-is-best family. They start to "supportively" tell me it's ok. Uhm, but it's not, now is it?
My mom knowing how important this is to me and realizing I spent a small fortune at Williams Sonoma offers to help. I decline and take the knife away from her. It's ok, no one died, it was a butter knife. I skim it between the beautiful cake pan and the sweet smelling golden brown cake - hey, at least it's not charred, right!? Mom says it should be fine. She was actually rather supportive, unlike my sisters! Whom I love, for the record.
I once again invert the cake pan on the plate and this time...I felt that feeling! That amazing feeling of, "the cake dropped from the pan on the plate!" Hallelujah! There is a kitchen Goddess and she is blessing me! I quickly turn over the cake pan and gasp in horror! Half the cake remained in the pan! My mother comes over quickly to help and this time the family, dad included, are quit amused. At least I could amuse them.
So that night, we celebrated my dad's birthday with the ugliest yet rather delicious cake as a family in my parents kitchen. It's the usual way we celebrate most birthdays, without fanfare, with the folks the matter to us most. It turned out to be one fun evening, thanks to my hour of entertainment in front of the stove.
Over this weekend, I found a quote that reminded me of something important. I'll paraphrase, "Stop asking what people can do for you, start asking, what you can do for them." I love it. And I'm taking it to heart. I'm going to embark on a new journey soon and I want to be well prepared for it. I'm going to learn to cook. I'm determined! And determination is half the battle. So I've ordered a cute binder to start my recipe collection. It's the cute little things that keep me going.
So friends and family, if you love me, send me EASY recipes! xoxoxox