Sunday, December 16, 2012

The Smoke Monster

It kills my inner domestic goddess to tell you this: I hate to bake. I don't mind cooking, but baking is so messy, time consuming, and unpredictable. After all the sweat, toil, and trouble, you have about equal odds of producing a masterpiece or turning out something that makes everyone who tastes it feel sorry for you.

My brother once dated a girl who would bake obsessively when she got nervous or stressed. Apparently, they had a fight one weekend and he woke up the next morning to a pile of pies, stacks of cakes, and mountains of cookies. It's probably good for everyone that she didn't last. I can just see our family trying to flip this girl's lid just to get our hungry hands on some fresh baked goods. Personally, I like to eat them, not create them. I have such an appreciation for anyone giving the gift of baked delicacies that it's right up there with gold, frankincense and myrrh in my book.

But it's Christmas and everyone is making freaking cookies and I will not be outdone (thank you, Pinterest, this is all your over achieving fault. Again.). They say you are only as good as the equipment that you use, which is probably why I am such an awesome baker. Meet the Smoke Monster:

He's a beaut, right? I inherited the Smoke Monster from my granny (yes, I am an heiress, don't hate) and although a Sunbeam never tells its age, we estimate it to be about as old as I am--in other words, a fine young thing. This machine is such a 70s time machine, I have a theory that if you attach a flux capacitor to the beaters, it will mix you right back into the disco era.

Smokey got his name because he doth protest too much whenever I get him out. The 'Monster makes a high pitched, angry screeching noise and crawls its way across the counter while mixing as if trying to escape the torture of hanging out with butter, eggs and sugar. He gets <literally> hot and bothered and will smoke if you don't get in, get out, and get it over with. The Smoke Monster clearly had other ambitions (blender? cement mixer?) and had to settle.

If you are wondering why I don't go out and buy a new mixer, perhaps you have never taken notice of the price of these things. You can stay a night at the Four Seasons for what a KitchenAid costs, and baby gets a new pair of shoes for less than one of the "lesser" brands fetching price. The Smoke Monster was, and is, free. We soldier on together. Get 'er done and all that.

A few days ago, the 'Monster and I decided to spread some yuletide cheer with some Christmas cookies for the neighbors. Break out the Crisco and pass the vanilla, here we come. I caught a glimpse of my reflection in my kitchen window about 15 minutes in and found an odd resemblance to Al Pacino from Scarface, when he is at his desk with that big pile of cocaine. No, I'm not making any nose candy cookies, I was doused in flour. It really goes against my neat freak code of conduct, but in the spirit of Christmas, I pressed on.

I need to add some of my own notations to the recipe I used. Note one: recipe suggests that you drop the dough by teaspoons to form the cookies. Um, perhaps if you are making batches of cookies for the Smurf village these would be an appropriate size. I have seen bigger cookies in a box of Cookie Crisp cereal. Two: Yields six dozen cookies. Are you talking about six dozen of those dime sized elf nibbles? I like my cookies the size of hubcaps, thankyouverymuch. Note three: the recipe says to bake these mini masterpieces for 10 minutes. Seven minutes in, I smell burning cookies. Dancing on the edge of incinerated. My cookies look like that Tanning Bed Mom who was all over the news a few months ago admitting she was addicted to tanning.

Luckily for me, I have a husband who takes joy in eating pretty much everything burnt cookies. So we kept the Bain de Soleil batch and passed the ones that I hope and pray were edible on to some of the friendly folks who live around us. Next year, I fully intend to give the gift of Chips Ahoy.

And so, Merry Christmas from the Smoke Monster and me. Let it be a lesson to you that it is perfectly productive to screech, squirm and get all hot and bothered!

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