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cookies and christians
singapore sunset
amw
Tonight we made chocolate chip cookies and they sucked. It's the latest in a line of failed attempts at baking. A few years ago the only baking i did was with Betty Crocker mixes and Pillsbury dough. I was always very happy with that - i couldn't really screw it up as long as the oven cooked evenly. In 2007 as part of a creativity course i was working on i decided to bake for real, so cooked an apple pie from scratch. The filling was no problem, but the pastry was a pain in the ass to roll out and get right. The end product had a bit of a dry crust, but was enough of a success overall that i decided to bake from scratch more often.

Fast forward two years and i've now made pies, butter cookies, banana bread and chocolate chip cookies from scratch. Of those, the only one that came out well was the banana bread from last week. And even that tasted wonky as hell till we let it cool down and ate it cold on day two. Baking is just so finicky, it drives me nuts. You mix too much, it fucks up, you don't mix enough, it fucks up, you put it in too much of something, it fucks up, you don't put it in enough of something, it fucks up... There's not really an edible medium - either it comes out right or it's compost. I just can't get my head around being so precise in the kitchen.

I loved chemistry in high school. It was my favorite subject and i'm not sure why, i just loved mixing all this stuff together and seeing what would happen. But something must've happened between then and now, like the part of my brain that could handle obsessively measuring and preparing experiments rotted away. Stovetop cooking is chemistry too, but somehow i feel more comfortable with that, perhaps because i can see the process and fix ratios as i go, feel it out intuitively. Why is that? I am such a careful thinker inside - always trying to figure out the best and most logical way to do something - but that all falls away when it comes to the kitchen. Perhaps it's because it's a place i feel i can be creative, where i can let things go a bit. And whether it's something new or something i did a hundred times before it's just natural, like it flows and i don't need to think too hard on it. I don't want to think.

I'm not sure if i will get to that point with baking, where i can just throw some ingredients together and get it right. But i guess i will keep trying. J enjoys the process, even if the results aren't always great, and it's fun to do stuff like that with your partner. There is a Jewish holiday coming up soon where there's some family feast thing going on and she volunteered us to bring apple pie, so we better practice that pastry.

You know, i kinda miss my "Christian" (i always thought of them as secular) holidays. I like Christmas, damnit, and Easter. Our family never really did anything special for them, but i'm realizing there's a pretty big difference between not doing anything special and not recognizing the day at all. I am practically jumping up and down i'm going to get my first white Christmas since 1996 and they're all like "we should go to Florida"... I wonder if one of the reasons i have become more spiritual (religious?) since arriving here is because the Jewish traditions are so alien to me i want to clutch tighter to my own. I never thought i gave a shit about any of this stuff till i was surrounded by people who pointedly don't give a shit.

Halloween is also soon, and that's as secular as it gets. I'm so excited to be back in North America this year. We have a massive year-round Halloween store around the corner from our house, which i am deliberately avoiding visiting till the weather turns. In Australia i kept my Christmas tree up all year with seasonally changing ornaments so i know if i get Halloween shit now the house will be filled in a week. Fortunately J likes to see me happy so if it gets out of hand i'm not gonna get thrown out on my ass.

I need to make some backup goals in case this visitor visa situation bites me so far in the ass that i can't go back to school this term. I'm trying not to think about that because there's not much i can do to change the situation. So i'm thinking about baking instead. We're doing the pie for Rosh Hashanah but i want to make it a goal to perfect iced butter cookies by Halloween so i can bust out some spooky shapes for my holiday. There's worse ways to spend the summer than making cookies. And if i eat them too then i have an added incentive to get back on the basketball court. Two birds with one cookie!
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