Baking is my kryptonite

Not that I’m comparing myself to the caped wonder. I’m not super at all. And I would never wear blue tights.

My husband used to work in a bakery all throughout high school. He worked for a wonderful baker whose family has owned a German bakery in NYC for over a 100 years (it’s still there – everyone check out Glaser’s on the Upper East Side!). That lovely baker is my daughter’s godfather and one of our closest friends.

In college he let me work at the bakery to make some extra money. Early in our marriage we lived in an apartement right above that bakery, and I’ve never met anyone who likes cake more than me! So why for the love of all the sugar gods can’t I bake? And please, save me all your advice. Yes, I know baking is a science. I know I can’t “wing” ingredients. Oh, you bake all the time do you? It’s easier than cooking you say? Well in the words of Christian Bale when he had the meltdown on camera…”GOOD FOR YOU!”. Bake yourself a cookie and eat it why don’t you. Sorry. I’m just covered in sugar and failure. I’ll be nicer tomorrow.

Here’s my latest crumby attempt. Literally. No, this isn’t the crumb layer. This is the final product. Oh I’ll still eat it. I’m not nuts. But I am done with baking for good! Done I tell you! Done!

  
 

 

 

Shopgirl

My favorite part of my favorite movie was on exactly when I needed it.

Today was about baking. And burning. And not thinking I didn’t needed parchment paper and then needing parchment paper. It was about being pissed off because my mother buys me a roll of parchment paper every time I see her. And toilet paper and ziploc bags. So even though I had 10 rolls of parchment paper I didn’t use it. And the coconut macaroons paid. They paid dearly. 

There was also an episode involving using light brown sugar instead of dark brown. Can’t things be easier??

Suffice it to say – I spent the whole day acting like I’ve never baked. Then I remembered that I actually haven’t baked since his time last year. But that’s not an excuse. All I had to do was follow directions. And the directions said use f@@king parchment paper.

So after that day I took a bath. Took an Advil. And turned the TV on. 

  
And instantly I’m in a good mood again. 

I’m easy. Easy like parchment paper.

Mise En Place Life

We spent the majority of our Saturday with some of my favorite people. Other than you, ofcourse. We rode up to an unexpected part of the Bronx, right on the Hudson River. I’ve known her for almost two decades so what I found at her house shouldn’t have surprised me. I’ve been to her apartment and I’ve seen what she can do with a space. I’ve been to her office and marvelled at the thoughtfulness and creativity. And I know her. She’s meticulous. She has good taste. She used to be my boss and drive me crazy with her good taste. Many a night were spent in the office catering to that meticulous, some would say obsessive, nature. It’s no wonder she found the perfect house for her and her family. I’d even seen some photos.

But it was bananas.

The view. The layout. The pool. The elevator. Bananas.

As I said to her when we toured her master bathroom (with a view of two bridges and jet propelled hot tub), “I’m filled with equal amounts of happiness and bitterness for you.”

Jokes aside, I was all happy for her. Because as careful and nutty as she is – she’s the most generous person I have ever met. Generous not just with materials, but with time. You have an idea for a business/wedding/event/dinner/party/dog/job whatever – she’s all in with you. She’ll spend hours talking with you about every detail. But she’s crazy. No doubt.

Back to the house. I didn’t take a ton of photos of the rooms because: a) I was too busy gawking with my mouth open to remember to take pics and b) I wasn’t alone. Sometimes other people (menfolk in particular) tend to get annoyed while I take 30 shots of each thing I like. Here’s the view from almost every room.

  
Let me preface this by saying that I am very blessed. I have a wonderful home that I love. A family that I adore. And a cat that I live with. I can’t remember the last time I got jealous. Like…jealous. In the true sense of the word. Biblical coveting of thy neighbor’s stuff kinda thing. I have wanderlust sometimes. I get dreamy about certain things I that I want to do, or places that I want to see,  but I’m not a shopper. I don’t get off on the newest, shiniest shoe or purse. When you say the word Cayenne to me I think of a pepper, not a car. You get the idea.

So imagine my surprise when we do the tour and see…her catering closet. Which would be normal if she was a caterer! And can I just point out that it’s not exactly a closet. It’s more like a mini room. Do you see my green monster coming out? Again, if I was alone I would have spent twice as much time looking at it. But because I was in public and not invisible, I nodded politely and moved along.

“A catering closet…um hmm..totally normal. You and Ina. Great.”

  
And then there was this cabinet….I think she called it the mise en place cabinet. I wanted to cry. I wanted it more than I’ve wanted anything. A cabinet full of little things to literally “put in place”.

  
You can keep your Blahniks and your Fendis. I want a mise en place cabinet. Actually, I want a mise en place life.

But of all the things I saw that day – there was one thing that rocked my world. No, not the pool on the Hudson River. Not the view at night when the bridge(s) lit up. Not even the Molten Brown products in the first floor bathroom. When she handed us our drinks, I looked down to see the most perfectly sized square ice cubes. (Yes Howard, I’m writing about ice cubes) Have you ever envied ice cubes? Sadly this isn’t my first time. There’s been a focus on ice cubes lately for cocktail drinks, you haven’t noticed? I have.  And these were the best. The were sized perfectly for the glass. They lasted for hours…ok…an hour. They were awesome. I know I need help. I sense you judging my sanity. And I don’t care.   

 I’m going to go now and make peace with my very un mise en place life. And with my stupid stupid ice cubes. Because that’s my lot in life. Some people have catering closets. I have a messy pantry full of open cereal boxes. But as Scarlett O’Hara said, “as God is my witness, one day I will have those ice cubes!”. Or something like that.

Here’s what my world looks like… This is an actual cabinet. Now you know you me.  


I rest my jealous case.

 

Kitchen Caper

A few years ago we tweaked our kitchen. We weren’t ready to gut it but it needed a little freshening up. By “we” I mean the nice men we hired since my husband and I aren’t exactly DIY people. We’re more like, DEDIYP – Don’t Ever Do It Yourself People.

So we decided to keep it simple. Just painting the walls and the cabinets. No big deal. But then we decided we needed a new faucet for the sink. And how can you have a new faucet and not a new sink? And how can we do all that and not get new countertops? That’s just crazy. Then our contractor guy said,” hey, have you ever thought about wainscoting the island?” Uh. No. We hadn’t thought of that. We just wanted a paint job. When it was finished we were blown away. It looked so different to us. A NEW kitchen, we thought.

Kinda. Sorta.

I took before and after shots. Every good makeover needs a photo reveal. You know how some people have a music soundtrack for life in their head? I have a sitcom/make-over show in my head. Totally normal. No therapy needed here. But I really didn’t know what to do with the photos, so I stashed them away.  Last night I cleaned out my phone pics and found them.  Moral of the story – don’t ever delete any photos because 2 years from now you may start a blog and need proof of story.

Back to the chicken….I mean kitchen.

We went from the warm wood to the white cabinets (even though Dave, our DEDIYP guy, told me never to paint cabinets a stark white. I ignored him. I’ve been dreaming of white kitchen cabinets since Martha painted hers at Turkey Hill. You know who I’m talking about, don’t pretend you don’t).

So here is the reveal, a tale of two kitchens. Kitchen confidential. The kitchen has two faces. A kitchen story. Sorry.

Before….

IMG_3750

After

IMG_3822

We still have to do the  back splash. Maybe I’ll go crazy and do a turquoise ocean mural or something. Or maybe it’ll just be white.

Only Boring People Get Bored

Here’s a random list of all the things I’ve been doing/seeing/eating/buying/worrying about/disliking/loving/wanting in the last few weeks:

  • Every year, in prep for the Oscars, my husband and I try to see all the nominated movies (we’re crazy like that).  This year we’re almost there – minus his absolute resolve to NOT see Le Mis.  I saw it. I started crying during the first scene and haven’t stopped since. 
  • I’ve wanted a nutmeg grinder for a long time. Many a day I strolled into Williams Sonoma, coveted and then walked out. It’s not expensive. But then you start thinking about how much nutmeg you actually use in real life and how absurd it is to have a special little grinder for it – and then the $30 may as well be $3,000.  Long grinder story short – my secret santa gave me the damn grinder for Christmas. And I haven’t used it once. And I probably won’t touch it until next November. But I LOVE it and it makes me insanely happy. Insane being the key word. Picture below.
  • My sister-in-law hurt her leg and spent some quality time with us in the begining of January.  She was trapped on our couch with a giant bag of ice  and looking for a new show to watch – we asked if she had ever seen Breaking Bad – she hadn’t. You know what’s better than finding a good show to watch on Netflix? Watching a good show again with someone who hasn’t ever watched it. It’s like tv philanthropy.
  • Downton Abbey started again – oh happy day! Recent favorite Maggie Smith line, “Don’t mistake vulgarity for wit.” I vote for a Lady Grantham spin-off, who’s in?
  • I went formal dress shopping with my teenage daughter. This should be the name of a new horror movie. Just kiddin’…anyhoo.
  • Tried a new hummus recently. Bobbi’s Hummus. It’s basically 3 parts garlic to 1 part chickpea. Lots of lemon and freshly ground pepper. I love you Bobbi, and your heavy garlic hand.
  • I got a pedicure last week for the first time since hurting my foot – which is still a bit sore.  I went to my favorite nail place. Esther runs it. She’s a nice Korean woman who I’ve gotten to know well enough for her to tell me that her real name isn’t Esther and the other two girls aren’t Anna and Tina. Last summer her son came to work in the shop. We call him Tom but you get the point. Tom does all the pedicures. Just thought you should know.
  • I tried giving up bread for 2.5 seconds on Thursday, January 3rd. Epic fail.
  • Legos are the devil.
  • The end.

IMG_4857

Self cleaning life

20130102-145625.jpg

At about 6am this morning I came to grips with the fact that the holidays are over and it’s back to work, school, and reality. After a good shower cry (only half kidding) I decided to go downstairs and tackle some emails, return some calls and get 2013 under way. By 7:15 I was crying again (only half kidding).

Don’t get me wrong, I’ve had my fill of all the merriment. I love this stretch of hibernation. I love the no gift buying. The no cookie baking. Not getting all my calories from a glass of Bailey’s. It’s time.

So here we go… Resolutions! Putting away the decorations! Washing all the guest linens! Conference calls! Presentations! Homework! Gulp. Sigh. Sorry for shouting. That didn’t work. Not excited in the least.

My lack of motivation can be summarized by my trusty oven. It cleans itself – without me doing one little thing – and I still only get to it once a year.

The eating nook

This is the spot. I usually have at least two of my 4 meals here (2 breakfasts, lunch, and dinner – what?).

This is me eating in my spot.

The gods created this spot for me. It’s perfect. I have the sink to my right for easy disposal, the stove to the left for refill access – and a view of any shenanigans happening at the table or in the family room. The only thing that would make this better is a kitchen TV. But that’s just nuts. Or is it?

That’s my boy and his pal after a sleepover enjoying their pancakes. These are my boys leftovers. If you have kids you aren’t disgusted. You know that sometimes whole meals consist of what’s left on the kid’s plate. Another bonus to eating leftovers while standing up? Those calories somehow don’t count. Truth.

Do you have an eating nook? Or do you always eat nicely at the table with a folded napkin with your pinky up?

 

Previous Older Entries