Recently, I’ve been trying to make various desserts, but have been failing miserably at them. This is highly unusual, I consider myself a baker before I consider myself a cook. But lately, nothing I make in the baking department is working. Let me start from the beginning…
I bought a new cookbook, a vegan baking cookbook. I decided to make the brownie recipe. I’d made vegan brownie recipes with success from other cookbooks and was curious about this one’s brownies, kinda like a litmus test for baking cookbooks, if you will. I occasionally to do the same for restaurants, you know you like a dish, you try out each restaurants particular dish to determine if they are ‘good’ enough for a return visit. Well, the recipe failed completely. But I don’t think it was the recipe’s fault. I keep looking at the ratios of dry to wet, and it should have worked. My catastrophe was brownies that were purely margarine. Literally, we were taking a piece putting it in a napkin, squeezing, and it was still greasy. After a few pieces, I called it a loss and threw it away. It didn’t make sense, I must have measured the margarine wrong. I waited a few days before my next attempt at baking.
My next endeavor, because I like pain apparently, was to veganize an old childhood recipe of fudge. Now this recipe has always been temperamental, I remember as a child eating it from the pan because it was too hard to remove to a baking dish, or eating it on a spoon because it was too soft and never set properly. So I went about changing the butter to earth balance, the milk to soy milk, and the sugar to vegan sugar… but I was impatient and unsure about my candy thermometer, it was on the side of the pan where clearly it was a different temperature than in the middle. I kept thinking to myself, “I know so much more now, this is why it failed before, blah blah blah.” I used a separate thermometer and stuck it in the middle, it was close to the temperature I was looking for, and it did make a soft ball when I dropped it in water. But the cool down stage, I think this is my failure point, I was equally, if not more so, impatient. I kept stirring the pot with my thermometer, and pretty much created the crystals that ruined the fudge. Oh, yea, that’s probably why the recipe says, “DO NOT STIR”. We’ve eaten fudge on a spoon a couple of servings, but I’m not happy with the end result. I wouldn’t mind so much if it was just soft fudge, but grainy, sandy, crystallized fudge is simply below my caliber.
Somewhere in between the chocolate failures, I myself had a fallible point in my life. I didn’t have enough soy milk or bread to make the tomato soup I had planed, so we were trying to decide where to get food out. It was a Sunday night around 6pm, you see where this is going, don’t you? We discussed many places, and then came to the conclusion that if we were going to compromise being vegan (i.e. eat cheese) then we might as well get a pizza from Papa Johns, right? So, I dialed the number to make a pickup order, and got the automated voice… my ‘taste-tester’ said, let’s just go up to the counter and then while we wait, I’ll run and get some soy milk and bread from the grocery store. Ok. So we loaded up the car with ‘little-bit’ fully intending to play tag-team, by one of us always being with the pooch while the other ran into a store. Me, going to Papa Johns, because he hates to order, and him going to the grocery store. On the drive there, I asked, “How are we going to do this? The store and the pizza shop are not next to each other, it’s late and I don’t want you to get hit by a car.” *The area we were going to has a theater and some drivers are a bit crazy, and don’t understand how a four-way stop works.* “Oh! I was thinking we were going to Domino’s”, he said. He wasn’t confused on the type of pizza, but the location. Domino’s is closer to the grocery store, but he was fully cognizant on the Papa Johns pizza part. So, I decided I’d call the pizza place while he ran into the store, then we’d drive down to the pizza place and the pizza would be ready. I sat in the car with the pooch and a book, he ran into the grocery store. I called the pizza place got the automated voice, waited, got a real person who said, ‘can you hold?’, then sat there listening to the same ‘you could have avoided this by going online’ automated message for 5 minutes. I hung up. Maybe I’ll get preferential treatment if I just walk in. My ‘taste-tester’ returned with the soy milk and bread. I then ran into the pizza place. There was one person waiting on the bench, then there was a couple who had pizzas already in their hands, but clearly had a question for the cashier, so they were walking back to the counter, then there was me. We, three, stood at the counter and waited. The cashier, I presume, had her back to us and was applying stickers to the future containers of pizza orders. She never turned around. Eventually, the couple in front of me decided to go sit down, maybe they had more pizzas coming, I don’t know. So now I stood at the counter, the cashier continued to apply stickers to boxes. Then without turning to check the counter, she walked away to the back somewhere. I stood there counting the number of employees… about 10 just milling about doing their thing. Some where probably drivers waiting, some were cooks, but no one, not. one. would make eye contact with me. The phone started to ring. It rang about two times, and I though, “what the hell are you doing?” I walked out. I went back to the car and said, “I think the universe is trying to tell us something. Let’s go home and have tomato soup.”
On the way home we discussed how the scientists of the hadron collider were saying that the universe didn’t want it built, that’s why they were having so many problems. It was something we had discussed a few days before, that’s why I thought of the phrase. We discussed how we could do some research and have cheese-less pizza in the future and that today was the day we were supposed to be eating tomato soup. Before you think we are crazy, there is actually a reason for the tomato soup on that particular day and why that was the original plan. You see, it was Day of the Dead, and tomato soup and grill cheese was the meal we were eating that fateful week that ‘floofy’ was sick. We gave him some of the grilled cheese and he loved it and asked for more. It is an image that has stuck with us, so whenever we are thinking about our ‘floofy’, I will occasionally ask, “how about ‘floofy’-special tonight?” Nowadays, the grill cheese is just toast with earth balance, but the tomato soup is still the thing. So, yes, that is what we were supposed to be eating that night, it had been planned days in advance and some how the soy milk and bread was consumed faster than I had anticipated and then I was unable to make it.
It’s funny, I’ve been making really great meals, just not desserts. Not only have the meals been great, but they have been on-the-fly stuff I’ve been throwing together without a recipe. The stir-fry I posted about earlier and a mushroom soup that I will post about soon were both awesome. Also, I’ve been totally craving kale and apples, so maybe the universe is trying to tell me something like, “stop eating crap!” So I fully intend to listen. I actually bought apples and kale on Tuesday, forgetting that I was getting apples and kale on Wednesday, interesting.
So, are you listening to the universe? or your body for that matter? What’s it telling you?