Confectious Concoctions

A Familar Scene in an Unfamiliar Kitchen

Posted on: April 11, 2010

I used to use baking/cooking as a way to get some aggressions out. The more dirty dishes on the counters, stove top, and in the sink, the better. It’s usually my safe harbor, a place for me to go to not think about anything but the tasks at hand – mix this, measure that, prepare, wisk, beat, grease, sift… I also didn’t really mind the clean-up.

And I’ll be the first to admit (my boyfriend will be the first to point out) that I’m not the easiest person to cook with – especially if I feel like the more experienced cook in the kitchen. I like things done my way and often see an other person’s methods as “it’s easier if I do it myself,” not the more diplomatic “here, can I show you a better way.”

Recently, though I feel like I’m getting better at being a cooking buddy/teacher. More patient, more willing to delegate. But it’s also different if you’re in someone else’s kitchen. Over Easter weekend, I helped my boyfriend’s mom, Kathleen (who is a fabulous cook BTW), bake a Carrot Cake Cheesecake to take to an Easter dinner party. (PS If you make that cheesecake, double the frosting recipe and do a light layer on the sides and top, let it set in the fridge, then frost with the remaining frosting).

I find that it’s consistently interesting not knowing where anything in a new kitchen is, especially when its organization isn’t tuned to your intuition. I wonder how those Top Chef contestants do it! But this wasn’t really the case for Kathleen’s kitchen. Everything had a place that made sense, and she knew that in order to avoid awkwardness, to bring everything I needed out before we got started. So half of her sprawling, 6+ foot island was filled with odds and ends of baking paraphernalia. Canisters of sugar and flour, egg carton, cream cheese, baking soda, vanilla, measuring cups and spoons (the spoons were great – magnetic in the center and each end had a different shape for different fits and uses)… you get the idea. You’re probably familiar with this scene. It was fabulous.

So while I manned the KitchenAid, making the cheesecake mixture and then the carrot cake batter, Kathleen did the prep-work: chopping the carrots, draining the pineapple, then cleaning up as we went along, etc. I feel like we made a good team in there, even though the project wasn’t very complex, I still had a lot of fun in an unfamiliar kitchen with a new baking buddy.

Sorry. No photos of the project in progress. But here I am frosting it!

What I really loved though, was the fact that the night before, she consulted with me on what to make for an event their community was holding for 100+ people in the near-future (and said my chopped red peppers were perfectly sized). Kathleen had said she’d do a simple appetizer (because she really didn’t want to put that much effort into it – just enough to make it tasty and good enough for the cookbook that was to be a sort of fundraiser for the event).

I had been raving about polenta, and she was thinking of some sort of round bread/cracker topped with some balsamic veggies. After putting our brains together for a few minutes, I think she decided on baked polenta rounds, topped with balsamic sauteed peppers, fennel, and onions, with some sort of cheese. I can’t quite remember when this event is, but I’ll be sure to post the recipe (and hopefully get a picture) of the finished product.

In the meantime, here we are. Triumphant masters of the kitchen!

Kathleen and Chelsea.

Can’t wait to cook and bake in her kitchen again… Ideally alongside her, too. Oh what dangerously delicious concoctions we will make!

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4 Responses to "A Familar Scene in an Unfamiliar Kitchen"

And that cheesecake was delicious!!

What a delightful surprise it was to read your blog, actually the first one I have ever read, except for Kyle’s about cars. Pleased as can be with your topics – one being me – it was also a treat to read your fine writing. You have what is called “voice,” that trait in writing which makes a piece have the unique sound of its creator. It is one of the five traits which teachers are trained to look for, and there it was in the midst of your chatting about my kitchen. Thank you for pleasing the many sides of me: baker, teacher, K’s mom, friend. K

Thank you, Kathleen! I appreciate the compliments. My voice is a little rough (IMO), but it’ll smooth out soon. It was such fun getting to enjoy your kitchen, that I had to share at least a little bit about it.

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