MOVarazzi

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

339. Baked

I’m a phenomenal baker. I brag about this (self-taught) skill all the time, especially when I’m working at the high-end kitchen store. I toss out very advanced technical jargon like “spatula,” “whisk,” or even “cookie sheet” with alarming regularity.

So imagine my surprise when I brought home my newest trophy (an enticing cookbook simply entitled “Say Yes To Chocolate”) only to be stopped by the very first recipe I attempted. As I scanned the list of ingredients, I was stunned to see the words “cocoa nibs” typed neatly after eggs, sugar, flour, and cream. Cocoa nibs? What does that even mean? Maybe I could just substitute, uh, cocoa powder, and that would be close enough? As I consider my options, I am disappointed to see yet another mystery ingredient: cream of tartar. Ohmygoodness. Where do they even sell that? Is it next to the half and half, because I don’t remember ever seeing it. Hmm. Is it something I could make at home? (In normal circumstances, I would merely Google the offending ingredients, and figure out my next step. However, in my continual quest to “better” myself, I have already declared this a “computer-free” day—in fact, it is only my second such computer-free day, and I’m not going to cave in this easily, this fast.)

Since there is no time in my day for an excursion to the library (to most likely be directed to the computer) or the specialty grocery store that is a 30 minute drive (surely a normal grocery store would not stock such exotic ingredients, especially if they’re not even sold at the high-end kitchen store), I choose another recipe. I can wait for another day to obtain my PhD in baking.

The recipe for “Easy Heaven Souffle” beckons to me. I begin to spread out all the ingredients (eggs, eggs, and more eggs) when I notice an unwelcome (and apparently necessary) component: a double-boiler. What’s that? I vaguely remember hearing about this item at the high-end kitchen store, but when customers ask about one, I always refer them to The Boss (“She’s worked here a lot longer than me, so she knows all about the really complicated products”). Double-boiler. I’m pretty sure I don’t own one of those. And as an aside, wouldn’t it be nice if the recipes put asterisks next to certain items to indicate they are merely “optional?” As in, deepfryer* (or use something else) or fresh coconut* (maybe substitute sugar?) or cardamom* (yeah, just skip it).

A quick inventory of my kitchen cabinets confirms my dismal fear: no double-boiler (nor triple-boiler, nor quadruple-boiler). Just some good old normal pans that do one thing at a time. Like me.

That’s okay, I reassure myself as I pour a little glass of milk, I can try something a little more basic. I open the freezer and get out the Thin Mint Girl Scout cookies. Easy Heaven, indeed.

MOV
(“Mom’s Optional Vanilla”)

8 comments:

  1. Clearly you don't have a husband who loves Snickerdoodle cookies (which I highly recommend), or have ever been tasked with making home made play dough (which I don't recommend). Cream of Tartar is a staple item in our pantry - feel free to borrow some anytime. In a pinch you can make your own double boiler. Why do I know this? My husband may not know the difference between Sherry and Sherry Vinegar, but he could probably give Natalia a run for her money. Me? I am the one who serves the box of Thin Mints at a dinner party if he is out of town and can't make something.

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  2. Oh, Happy, so like you to toss out names of more mysterious ingredients (Sherry/ Sherry Vinegar-- and I thought Sherry was a girl's name? since when is it an ingredient?). What-- are you trying to give me a baking complex here (a bakplex?), 'cause I'm already giving myself one, thankyouverymuch.
    Now, go bandage those deep head gashes you were lamenting about on your blog.
    best,
    MOV

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  3. I love this post! I love it when I'm trying to cook something exotic or bake something from France or somewhere and they are like, "We get this at the corner grocery." And I'm like, "I don't have time to fly to your corner grocery." Therefore I will continue to get my recipes from www.thepioneerwoman.com. LOL!

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  4. andycallie--
    ah, yes, their corner grocery is in Provence.
    Please let me just makes something spectacular out of my (dismally) ordinary ingredients!!
    best,
    MOV

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  5. Cream of Tarter is like $427 for a tiny little spice bottle. Or you can get the Costco sized barrel for $6.99. Most people just use Baking Powder, which is a mixture of Baking Soda, Cornstarch, & Cream of Tarter.

    I just bought an Indian cookbook. A recipe I want to try calls for not only ground cumin that most people already have but also cumin seed. And cumin leaf and cumin buds and cumin twig. Which are all $427 for the tiniest (but pretty!) little spice bottle. Funny that I found cumin seed in the International Aisle in a plastic bag for 50 cents, so I got that one.

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  6. Mearow-- I'm inviting myself to your house from some of these exotic meals you're going to make!
    best,
    MOV :)

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  7. When I lived in Boston we had more than one *corner grocery store* that had all sorts of fancy things you needed for fancy recipes. Now that we are old and in live in the 'burbs our corner grocery is either the Rite Aid or the 7-11. Ouch.

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  8. MOV, I'll give you a call when I save up the $427 for the fancy bottle of Cumin Twig I need.

    I think I figured it out, they nearly give these cookbooks away and make their profits thru the spice aisle.

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