Sunday, October 17, 2010

Adventures in Homemaking: like Adventures in Babysitting, but without the fun hats.

I've been incredibly inspired the past few days to really get down and dirty with some stay at home mom-type skills. Yesterday, for example, I perused a food magazine while waiting for coffee to brew and felt the kitchen calling to me like the mothership. So I got this great idea to make apple chips today. What a cute idea! What a healthy snack! What an unmitigated disaster!

Let me give you some background on this situation. I'm not a bad cook; in fact, I'm pretty good. Once I have a recipe down, or even if I improvise, I churn out pretty tasty food. Ask anyone about my Christmas cookies or spaghetti sauce, I'm pretty much a rockstar at those things that I've mastered. But when it comes to trying a new recipe, I'm the culinary equivalent of a Red Shirt.

You know how a chef will try out a new recipe several times to tweak it just the way they like? I have to try out new recipes several times just to condense all of the errors in "trial and error" into a convenient time frame. This was all totally ok, until I had the realization: I'm going to be that mom whose cupcakes never leave the dessert table at the potluck. Because here's what will happen: I'll note that I have to make something for some important thing. Then I'll look up recipes to get inspired and I'll stumble upon something that seems super easy and delicious. I'll think to myself that a good recipe is a great way to make friends and I'll fantasize about people asking me just how I manage to make such delicious treats. So I'll go with the recipe I've never even seen before and completely cock it up. And, instead of people comparing me to Martha Stewart, I'll accidentally overhear someone refer to me as an absolute spacker and my life will be ruined.

Ok, so some bits of that might be touch melodramatic, but I have a head cold so work with me here. Now, on the other hand, I am a very fast learner. And I never let my failures stop me from trying. I do genuinely love to cook and I really, really enjoy when I do finally get that new technique down or figure out the trick to the fun new recipe. And, also a plus: I usually front-load my cooking adventures with failure. Then I learn the hard lessons all at once, and I can get on with the fun part of tweaking and changing and enjoying the cooking process and basking in the compliments when it's over.

So what did I learn today? That apple chips, if you do it right, are surprisingly easy to make and quite healthy if homemade. I learned that, if you follow a recipe to the T and something doesn't work right, it's most likely operator error and not a bad recipe. And I learned how to get melted wax paper off a cookie sheet: run the hottest possible tap water over it and scrape the ever loving crap out of it with a silicone spatula.

And the only reason I can admit to that publicly is because I know I'll never make that mistake again.

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