Monday, November 19, 2007

Not a Chance

I don't bake. Which I think most people find kind of funny, especially given that I'm overweight (she must bake, right?). But I don't. There is something about the chemistry of baking that I hate and never get right, and the need to follow directions in order to get it "right" boggles my mind. I prefer cooking, which is an inexact science. And it usually comes out right.

So, I make cranberry sauce for Thanksgiving. This is a sad, sad moment for me, kind of.

The first time I wanted to make cranberry sauce, I called up my mom and asked her for her recipe. Growing up in my house, we often had turkey for Shabbat dinner, and there was always whole berry cranberry sauce, home-made, to accompany it. My grandpa, z''l (may his memory be a blessing), used to insist that the two go side by side and would really rib my mom (his daughter in law) if it wasn't on the table. So I called my mom, and asked for the recipe...and she said....

It's on the side of the bag. Just follow the directions. (and click here...if you need a shortcut like me)

This year, I have a huge project to finish, 2 evaluations of multiple pages to write, and a ton of workshops to plan. I have a 3 year old whose father is away at a conference and parents descending momentarily from out of town. Thank God I am not cooking for this meal. And I am not cooking for ANY meal. We'll be eating out of the freezer.

I wonder if my son will lose out because I am not a baker. There won't ever be home-made cookies or muffins to share with friends or take for lunch. I don't make gefilte fish from scratch (there's a great movie about this) but I do make great home-made chicken soup. I won't bake. No cakes, nothing. Not my thing. I cook a lovely Shabbat meal. I like fresh herbs and weird vegetables from the garden. But there's not a chance I will become a baker.

Our collective image of the Jewish mother is a real balabusta who "keeps house" by baking tasty morsels, like challah, and making chicken soup...and all of the ingredients for a proper Shabbat. Although I feel as though I am channeling Eishet Chayil, she keeps her house clean and her laundry is always done, and her children praise her.

Tonight, my house is a mess, my parents are coming tomorrow, and Thanksgiving dinner is at my in-laws. There is not a chance that I would change this and I hope it happens every year. My image of the perfect Jewish mother is not that woman who kills herself for everyone else and whose own life is left wanting. And here I am writing yet another blog post that is a reminder to me and to you, readers, that it is OK to take short cuts on the little things in life. The big things, no, but who cares if the whole berry cranberry sauce is some fancy recipe or off the Ocean Spray bag??

Last, there's not a chance that I will post on Thursday, but I will likely have some juicy tidbits following the "yom tov." So Happy Thanksgiving to all.

And in case you're wondering, we make parve pumpkin pie husband is an awesome pie maker (again, not for me) and he uses the recipe on the side of the can too, substituting 1/2 the soy milk for the regular milk. Note use of pre-made pie crust and 10 minutes preparation time!!!


Ima Shalom said...

Hey, they hire professionals to develop those side-of-the-bag recipes. No shame there. But I must say...I do have the "Ima Who Bakes" compulsion. Now the question to balance that with the "Ima who tries to feed her child a balanced diet" obsession?

Gluckel of Manhattan said...

oh gosh, i read your birthday & baking cookies post and remember the last time I baked. it was a duncan hines happy birthday israel white cake with blue dye in it. i bet your home baked goodies are more nutritious than that!

Maya said...

Ask anyone, the best recipes for cranberry sauce, chocolate chip cookies or chocolate cake are on the bags and containers of cranberries, nestle toll house cookies and Hershey's chocolate powder.

Gluckel, my mother, who is famous across South Texas for her breads, rolls, strudel (she rolls out transparently thin multiple layers of dough she makes from scratch) once, at my request, sat and watched me bake challot at her house using her ingredients and her yeast. I did everything perfectly. It rose like a pretzel. She sadly concluded I must be cursed. In your case, it's probably just the yeast, or over-or-under mixing, not a curse, but now I feel that I'm in good company!

The smell of soup cooking is a mecheieh!