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.
(“Mom’s Optional Vanilla”)