Wednesday, March 23, 2011

The Art Of Baking ....

The post below, originally published on March 17th, is a piece of frivolous fluff, but since I hadn't written for months, it was merely an exercise: staring at a blank screen, hoping for some kind of inspiration, and the following is the result.
-The Editor-in-Chief
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My last post was dated September 29, 2010. Where have I been? ("Right here"). What have I been doing? ("Not much to speak of") except (fanfare please):

I believe I've mastered the art of making a perfect pie crust. Somehow, I've always felt this to be a significant accomplishment, not unlike pitching a no-hitter. Ardent, well-intentioned past efforts have produced substances tough enough to plug any puncture in your Pirellis, but I can now boast that my pie crust is perfect and exceptionally easy to make, thanks to my food processor and Ina Garten.

It is a very good rule to read ALL instructions several times before starting out, to visualize the steps, assemble necessary ingredients and utensils (bowls, measuring spoons, etc.). It is because I have too often failed to practice what I preach that I've had my share of colossal baking failures, to wit: an alluring recipe for a tantalizing concoction called "Maple Cream Cake" invented by a stay-at-home Mom and which had consistently received highest praise from her kids: ("It's, like very good"). I will never know. I assumed I could incorporate ordinary syrup such as the Vermont Maid in my cupboard. On double-checking after tossing the horrid mess into the trash, there it was: It needed Grade B syrup, not the less potent substitute I'd used.

Or how about this bomb: I had assembled and double-checked before launching into the delicious filling for the graham cracker crust: Juice and zest of four large lemons, 3 egg yolks, and a 14 oz. can of sweetened condensed milk to be added, the mixture then poured into the crust. I knew I had the C-milk in the pantry, and having mixed all other items, was ready to add it. The stuff in the can I opened was the color and consistency of crankcase residue, not glossy white or fluid enough to pour. I nonetheless spooned the goo into the bowl, having tasted it to determine the extent of its deterioration. A tiny bit tart, shall we say, but certainly not totally inedible. It emerged from the oven a pumpkin-like color and too evil-looking to even consider a wee bite. It was only then I checked the bottom of the can: "Best Used by 2006". The whole mess was tossed into the garbage disposal. P.S.: I have made this delicious, rich pie several times since then, dinner guests suitably impressed.

They say we learn by our mistakes and at this rate, I'll be ready to publish my own Baking With Carol Sloane Volume I within the next ten years. I sing while I bake, by the way: Favorite melodies are "I'm Putting All My Eggs In One Basket" and "You're The Cream In My Coffee". Alternative titles welcome.

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My good pal, superb bass player and exceptionally witty fellow Bill Crow, submitted this comment: My cooking songs: Frim Fram Sauce, All That Meat and No Potatoes, Southern Fried, Save the Bones for Henry Jones, Jambalaya, Yes We Have No Bananas and (I love this one):" Miss Otis Regrets. I could add Bitin My Thyme, but you would just laugh.