Passionate Baker

18 Nov
Hi, I’m Christina, and I’m a bakeholic. I grew up baking everything from pies and chocolate chip cookies with my dad, brownies and cakes with my mom, cookies and fudge with my grandma, and German cakes and cookies with my Oma. It may help that I have a mouth full of sweet teeth, but I just love to bake! For many reasons.
1) Memories. Baking elicits memories of my childhood, which was a great one 🙂 Stirring brownie batter, helping measure ingredients, snitching cookie dough behind Oma’s back, painting Christmas cookies with colored icing. These are such wonderful memories that took place in the kitchen, with people I love.

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2) Creativity. It’s one thing to follow a recipe exactly as it’s written. Sometimes, this is wise, at it might be a recipe passed down from generations (my grandma’s pie crust recipe), or made so often that the recipe has just been perfected and straying from that would be pointless (my Oma’s zucchini bread). But other times, recipes are more like guidelines. Baking times can and should be adjusted, ingredients can be substituted for others, recipes can be made healthy, and extras can be added when the mood strikes. I rarely follow recipes, especially new ones. I might have better or different ingredients, different needs, or just a desire to go a different route. And these all require one’s creativity. Baking is a science, the kitchen is my laboratory, and experiments must ensue! Taking a risk in the kitchen is exciting – will it turn out? Will everyone like the finished product? Will the ingredients react the way they should? Will it just blow up in a complete mess and disaster? Usually, in my experience, risk-taking in the kitchen ends well. The result is delicious and enjoyed by all. However, I’ve had my fair share of experiments gone awry. Flavor combinations fail, ingredients don’t behave how I expect, or it just literally and totally falls apart (or I put in WAY too much red pepper flakes, ruining an entire dinner…sigh). But that’s part of the fun! You live and learn, and adjust the recipe next time. Not everything can come out perfectly on the first go 🙂 Moral: take risks! Try something new. Think outside the box, and you might come up with a delectable creation.

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3) Heat. There’s the phrase “if you can’t stand the heat, get out of the kitchen.” Of course, this is mostly referring to the pressures of cooking and baking. It can get pretty tense in the kitchen! However, I’m talking about actual warmth. I get cold rather easily. And baking is a wonderful solution to that! Preheating an oven to 350 degrees or higher means that my kitchen gets nice and toasty warm. And then allowing your dessert to bake for 15+ minutes, and the resulting cool-down time, means I get to spend at least an hour warming up, while making something delicious at the same time! I really do think this is one of the reasons I enjoy baking. It’s such a warm spot, and I hate to leave the kitchen once everything is baked and cooling. Because then I start cooling down too :-/ Baking anything is a harder case to make in the warmer summer months, but I tend to reserve such projects for cooler days (my family has pretty much banned me from baking on hot days – it just doesn’t make sense to combat the AC like that!).

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4) Control. My family and friends know that I’ve established myself as a baker. And they like that. But they also know I tend to be a bit controlling (ok, VERY controlling) when it comes to baking, or just my kitchen in general. Not all aspects of life provide the opportunity for complete control. But baking does, and I take full advantage of that. I have control over the ingredients, the baking process, the tools and utensils used, the temperature and the timing. And if it doesn’t turn out well, I have to take complete responsibility. Which is good for me, or anyone, really. And when it turns out well, I get to bask in the glory of gorgeous cupcakes, gooey brownies, or perfect cookies. And it’s a wonderful feeling when friends and family complement your skills and talents…it’s a nice ego boost, to be sure!

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5) Health. Most people don’t associate “baking” with the concept of being healthy. But I’m proof that it can be! In the past 20 months, I’ve lost about 55 lbs, and maintained that weight loss. And you know what? I still eat baked goods all the time! It’s really more of a testament to moderation. In my opinion, living a long life but not being able to indulge and enjoy the things you love once in a while, is just pointless. I’ll have my cake and eat it too, thank you very much! BUT I don’t continue to eat the store-bought, chemical-laden “baked goods” that are over-processed and too sweet. I eat what I make, what my family and friends make, knowing that it was cooked up in a kitchen with REAL ingredients. Of course, some of what I eat is still full-fat, full-sugar and made with white flour. But I’m ok with that. Because often times, what I bake has a healthy twist to it. I can substitute healthier ingredients for the not-so-healthy ones. I can change a recipe to include (or exclude) whatever I want. And I have developed the self-control necessary to be able to whip up a batch of 3 dozen cupcakes and only eat one of them, for taste-testing purposes. All of this adds up to a happy, healthy and indulgent life I can live without guilt! It’s a good thing 🙂

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6) FOOD. I always tell people that there’s a reason I had 55 pounds to lose. It’s because I love to eat! I mean, I have a major sweet tooth, but all foods are my friends. I still eat constantly (seriously, my co-workers think I don’t STOP eating, judging by the raw veggies I always have at my desk!) but the foods I eat now are different and healthier. And/or baked and scrumptious. I really do love food. As a fuel for my body, as a treat, as a thing to gather friends and family around, as a celebration, as a mourning aid, and as taste bud exciter. Food is phenomenal, and there’s no way I’ll give it up! And baking only feeds this love (haha, literally. boy am I funny). Not only do I get to enjoy the act of baking, for all the above reasons, but I get to enjoy the finished product as well! Savoring each bite, admiring my work (or that of others, should that be the case). Food is great, and I’m happy I know how to prepare it in tasty and sometimes healthy ways.
So, there’s my long-winded love letter to baking. All of this is helped along, of course, by my skill. If I wasn’t good at it, I doubt I’d enjoy it nearly as much. And I continue to learn with each recipe, each sous chef, and each dozen of cupcakes. I’ve always loved learning, and to force myself to learn about such a tasty topic is just wonderful! Who wouldn’t enjoy this 🙂
For anyone reading this, why do you love to cook, or bake, or do whatever it is you’re passionate about? Did I leave something out? Lemme know in the comments!
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2 Responses to “Passionate Baker”

  1. Brittany November 18, 2012 at 9:09 pm #

    Amen to all of this!! I love baking/cooking/ and most of all EATING!

    • xtinaluvspink November 18, 2012 at 9:10 pm #

      Aw, thanks! We’re of the same mind 🙂 Eating is the best!!

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