Saturday, December 19, 2009

Baking is calming

I don't want to be a person who tweets grave news or posts it on her food blog, but now that the episode has ended happily, I can write here that my mother was in the hospital for a few days. I understood she was very sick when a nurse said to me, "She's very sick." She's home now, and almost back to her loquacious and vibrant and pleasingly bossy self. Fluids, blood transfusions and
Dilaudid were. . . . just what the doctor ordered.

It was clear she was in sorry shape when she wouldn't touch the homemade chocolate croissants I brought to the hospital, as my mother is ordinarily one of the world's most enthusiastic and appreciative eaters.  My new goal is to become proficient at truly intimidating baking endeavors like croissants, danish pastries and napoleons and feed them to her. It's magical thinking -- bake it and she will eat! -- but what's wrong with that? The first project went fine, at least the baking part of it. The pains au chocolat were handsome
but full of hidden flaws. The dough was damp and leathery where the butter in the dough melted in clumps, and I used too much chocolate.  It's tempting to pile up the chocolate, but you really need to be sparing, especially if you don't like chocolate. Further experiments will include replacing dark chocolate with milk chocolate, chestnut cream, coconut, and the pineapple jam from Hawaii.

To use up aging bananas, I also baked the easy cocoa-nana bread from Dorie Greenspan's Baking
I like baking things with chocolate because my children enjoy eating them, but I am not tempted.

I am also not tempted to eat scones, more than 20 minutes after they come from the oven. These are Dorie Greenspan's nutmeg scones
Yummy scones, but not more than an hour out of the oven.

And finally, here is the coconut layer cake I baked for Isabel's third 13th birthday party, the party that really matters, the one with her friends, the one she has been planning since July that began with manicures followed by a meal at the Cheesecake Factory, then screaming laughter, loud music, and banging sounds (dancing? jumping on bed? hard to tell with girls this age) from her bedroom. 
The young ladies are sleeping off the candy and Lady Gaga marathon as I type.  Though they wear skinny jeans, Abercrombie shirts, and long hair that looks like it was ironed, they all have decorous old-fashioned literary names. My peers were Kim and Lisa and Hilary and Lindsay.  Isabel's are Camille and Kate and Grace and Juliet, names you might find in an Edwardian novel. Just like Isabel. Name trends are fascinating. 
I asked my husband how the cake was. 

Husband: "Not very good."

Tipsy: "You're kidding." 

Husband: "No."

Tipsy: "That wasn't a very nice thing to say."

Husband: "It was dry. Do you want me to lie?"

Silence. Yes?

My grandmother is staying with my mother as she recovers, and to escape teen shrieking, last night Owen and I went over to her house and the four of us watched Under the Same Moon. It was sweet. Not the movie, the whole experience, although the movie -- about a 9-year-old boy who travels by himself from Mexico to find his mother in East L.A. and encounters drug addicts, mariachi bands, America Ferrera, and unbelievably good luck along the road -- was sweet, too. If you want to please a 97-year-old Hispanophone, a sentimental convalescent mother, and a 9-year-old boy, this movie is pretty much the perfect choice. Maybe the only choice.


  1. Under the Same Moon is a delightful movie.

  2. Baking is comforting and its results can be counted on with a certain amount of confidence. Best wishes to your mother for a speedy recovery.

  3. I had big plans to bake this weekend, but then the girls got the swine flu. Baking in a house with a contagious virus just seems like a bad idea. I wonder how hot the oven has to be to kill a flu virus.

  4. Yes, I wish for your mother's speedy recovery.

    AzureSong, the thing to make with a house full of sick people is soup! or better yet, defrost some. I make soup as soon as it gets cold, freeze it in various containers to have when we don't feel like cooking. Its sooo much better than canned, I can't even eat canned soup.

  5. Thinking about your mother and hoping she recovers quickly and feels better even faster than that.
    I know what you mean about baking. Due to our sudden snowstorm, it really looks like a winter closet exploded in our living room while we pick through what fits and what doesn't. When I was overwhelmed, I'd think, Let me go make _____. And now we have apple caramel cake, a gingerbread cake, and a banana chocolate chip loaf cooling on the counters, and coats still all over the living room.

  6. Greetings tipsybaker and readers!
    I have realized that this column has many tip which are surely going to help me in order to enhance my cooking skill, which is such a great new for everyone here at home, owing to the fact that I think my family is sick and tired of the old same recipe. Then, I think it is time for me to learn some new tips and secrets.

  7. Anyway, I think Gaga is the best. I recorded myself singing her songs, give me some advice!
    Hope people like it, lol.