I really enjoy baking. This was not always the case; it used to seem fussy and overly complicated. Then I learned a bit about the science behind the recipes, why things need to be done in a specific order for a certain amount of time, and it all clicked. Cookbooks weren’t written by OCD dicks, there was a reason for everything, a science reason. I like science and cookies, so it all worked out. Baking became something awesome and relaxing, follow the steps correctly and you have something delicious to shove into your gaping maw. I prefer to make things from scratch. They usually taste better than box mixes. They generally don’t take too much extra work. It’s cheaper in the long run. Choices are endless. I feel like a badass when I make something delicious. The only problem? I now live with other people who find my baking pretty fascinating.
Charlie goes nuts any time I turn the KitchenAid on – the combination of watching the beater whirl around and the knowledge that yumminess is forthcoming is all that kid needs to get hyped. He starts flapping and jumping and hollering, the dog gets excited, they both follow every step I take until I’m tripping everywhere and forgetting where I am in my recipe. Sometimes I make things that require more than one thing to be done at a time. It’s impossible for me to go through something complex and time-sensitive with a kid and a dog attached to me with all the noises they make without completely losing my shit. I turn into my father for a minute, with a crescendo-ing “goooooodddDAMMIT!!!! EVERYONE OUT! NOWWW!!!” Scott will jump in and put the dog in her crate and shuffle Charlie back to his bedroom and I’ll take a great big breath, slam a cabinet closed, and get back to my egg folding or chocolate melting or whatever I was trying to accomplish, my serenity shattered.
Cal likes to help, which isn’t nearly as stressful, but still means I’m not in my isolated, quiet, happy place. He brings whatever toys he’s obsessing over that week and sets them up to watch. They used to “help,” but I shut that down with a quickness. Fact: Stuffed Mario is useless when it comes to measuring. Cal’s favorite thing is to crack the eggs and usually does it way too soon in his excitement. Patience is not his strongest trait, and might not be mine either. I end up saying “Cal! Wait!” more than I’d prefer. But! I get to sneaky teach him in the process. I have him read the recipe to me, working on his reading aloud skills and I ask lots of questions to help his reading comprehension. I’ll also ask him to help me figure out how to measure things to work on fractions, “If I have ½ and ¼ measuring cups, what are the different ways I can make ¾?” I’m an a-hole and make kids practice math as often as possible.
So, with the boys, baking from scratch while they’re awake is way too much of a headache and not fun for anyone. (Anyone = me) What do I do? That’s right, box mixes. I feel a little guilty when I’m buying Duncan Hines, but it works so much better with kids! There’s not a lot of measuring (but enough that I’ll sneak one fraction question in because, as stated earlier, I’m an a-hole), I don’t get the stand mixer running and everyone can help without my head exploding. I’ll stir the batter with a wooden spoon, and give the boys turns helping – Cal on his own, Charlie with lots of guidance – pour it all into the baking dish, give them each a spoon to lick and it’s done. There’s only one bowl and two spoons dirty, I don’t feel like a screaming harpy of no fun, Cal gets to talk about the brownies he made over the weekend, Charlie gets to participate and my guy has a warm dish of brownies to devour after everyone goes to bed. Sometimes, we have to compromise to keep the house happy, a lesson that I feel l relearn every day with the boys.