My friends, and cheeky acquaintances who can be bothered, moved by pity, often feel the need to slip me their “fool-proof” cake recipes (on folded small, grubby pieces of paper) casually dropped into my hand, with a whispered “try this it will work”, like a bad spy movie). They are inevitably exasperated by the results. My oven, the blame must be laid somewhere, manages to produce baked things. I was going to say “goodies”, but obviously not, that even the dog turns his nose up at, despite my concentration in measuring out the ingredients. We might also lay some blame on my rudimentary measuring tools – which consist of a series of cups (1 cup, ½ cup, ¾ cup – you get the idea), a fridge magnet conversion chart (ounces to grams and vice versa) and a measuring jug inherited from my dad (in pints) – the resulting mathematical mismatch is much to blame for my culinary cock-ups (no roosters involved), or rather my baking bloopers. I am fine with starters and main courses. I cook with my fingertips (a pinch of this …) and my tongue (oooh, needs a bit of salt …), which obviously is not the best battle strategy when it comes to baking. Some blame, in proportion to their size, may also be directed to my two happy helpers. A large percentage of each ingredient lands on the floor, on the counter, lovingly shared with the dogs, tasted, spat out, or happily sieved into the sink.
I do my best to get out of the cake sales at school avoiding embarrassing my children with having to carry in my suspect offerings, sliding off the plate. Always the last to go on the day of the sale, at reduced rates! But we bake at home despite my shortcomings, because the mess is fun, and pressing the flour and marg and sugar together and then eating it from under your fingernails (oh be quiet – you all do it!), and decorating the cake – watching it subside under the sheer weight of tiny multi-coloured hundreds-and-thousands, cleaning the bowl with your fingers afterwards, licking dough off your elbows – well, it’s all part of life’s journey, isn’t it?
I think Confuscius said, even the hardest journey (life – my opinion) begins with the first step. Don’t really know what that has to do with anything, but it was in a book I was reading, and I wanted to get it down somewhere, before I forget it altogether, may as well share it.