Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Trivial Only Post: The Power of Serendipity

My family is full of excellent cooks. And by excellent, I don't mean, "Whip up something amazing, with restaurant-worthy presentation, and ingredients no one can correctly pronounce." I mean excellent in terms of improvisation, of taking something that would be considered "a recipe gone wrong" and making something else out of it.

My mom still tells the story about "spoon fudge". My grandma tried to make fudge, but it turned out wrong. It was far too runny and would refuse to set up into perfect little fudge bars. But it tasted amazing! So everyone just ate it with a spoon. Hence the name.

When I was a child, my mom got a shiny new cookie press. And like all cookie presses, this one came with a bunch of recipes. She tried making one for sugar cookies, but the batter was all wrong. It was again, too runny, and when she tried squeezing it out of the cookie press into perfect little shapes, it melted into a runny blob. So what did she do? She scraped the batter into a cake pan, baked it, frosted it, and served - it quickly became a family favorite. "Cookie cake", as we called it, was always requested as birthday cakes as a child. I still find myself craving those chewy frosted squares with multicolored sprinkles every year on my birthday.

Several years ago, I started getting the baking bug. I'd cooked for myself all through college and found I enjoyed it; it was great stress-relief, and I looked forward to making food for others and watching their reactions when they took a bite. For Thanksgiving, I decided to bake a blackberry pie. I mixed up the filling, made the perfect crust (following my mom's excellent recipe passed down through the generations), and popped that baby in the oven. As I was removing my perfectly cooked pie from the oven - bam, it fell onto our (thankfully recently cleaned) oven door. I was as crushed as my pie, at first. But we decided to just scrape it back into our pan and call it "Oven-Door Cobbler". It was a hit, both figuratively and literally.

Life is what you make of it. Sometimes, the fudge is runny. Sometimes, the cookie press doesn't work. Sometimes, the oven door gets the first taste of the pie. You can give up, or make something else with what you've got left. It's all up to you.

Trivially and nostalgically yours,