Sunday, December 9, 2007

I understand Rachel Ray and Hillary Clinton

A number of years ago, Hillary Clinton was criticized in the press because she said she was not a woman who was going to stay home and bake cookies. On her cooking shows, Rachel Ray continually talks about her inability and lack of interest in baking. I totally get it - I'm not the kind of woman who will stay home and bake cookies either. Quite frankly, I can't do it. Truly - I am not capable of baking without burning, under cooking, or just plain screwing it up.
So what? I can't bake - big deal! Actually, it is a big deal. I am 100% Italian, people known for their remarkable culinary abilities, particularly their delicious desserts! Every once in a while after enough time has passed since my last baking disaster, I will get bold enough to give it a try again. People outgrow things all the time - maybe the time has finally arrived for my baking ability to emerge.

I made a few pumpkin pies for Thanksgiving that went over quite well and I think this grew my head a bit too big. I was reading through Real Simple magazine's holiday issue and there were so many beautiful cookies on the glossy pages that I just couldn't resist. To up the ante, I decided to make cookies for several people in my office to be wrapped up as holiday gifts.

It's was a mixed experience. 1/3 of the cookies were wonderful, 1/3 were passable but not something I'd give to others as a gift, and the other 1/3, well, let's just say I was grateful to have some extra trash bags in the apartment. So here is the secret to my future baking: I need to make three times as many baked goods as I actually need to ensure that I get a good amount of acceptable product.

The other option is that I just concede defeat to the baking gods, hang up my cookie sheets, and focus on things I do well. There are a myriad of bakeries in New York City that sell incredibly delicious, albeit expensive, sweets. One of my favorites is Rose and Joe's Italian Bakery in Astoria, Queens. And that one is rather affordable and has one of the best traditional dessert selections I've ever seen. Who says money can't buy happiness and keep my kitchen clean and smoke free?

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