Thursday, December 23, 2010

Martha Doesn't Live Here

Once, when Doug and I were browsing through a store, we saw a plaque that said, "Martha doesn't live here." We looked at each other and burst out laughing because nothing could be more true of our house. Whether the saying refers, as we originally thought, to the Martha of the Bible, who was busy with much serving, or, as occurred to us later, to Martha Stewart, it is still a motto that befits our home.

It's not my mother's fault that I'm not a cook. She wanted to teach me, but I had no interest. She used to say to me, "What are you going to do when you get married?" I replied that I'd learn to cook when I got engaged. Well, I had many years of singleness before Doug came along. By then, it was just easier to tell him that I didn't cook than it was to learn the art.

There are some dishes that I can make and make well. But my kitchen looks like a disaster zone by the time I'm finished.

I did a little baking today. I made half a chocolate sheet cake to take to a friend's house tomorrow, to celebrate his birthday. And I made a batch of mint brownies to take to a family gathering on Christmas Day. Those are two of my specialties, but even those don't always go well.

A few years ago, I decided to bake some mint brownies to take to Sandra's daughter, Jenny, in Chicago. We were traveling there with Sandra and her Hubby, partly to see Jenny's daughter, CoCo, play the skunk in a presentation of Snow White, and partly to celebrate Jenny's and CoCo's birthdays.

Jenny loves the brownies, so I wanted to give them to her as a birthday gift. Wanting to take them in a pan that Jenny wouldn't need to worry about returning, I used a Gladware baking pan. You have to put it on a cookie sheet while baking, and I did that. But the cookie sheet buckled, causing a good portion of the brownie batter to gather in one corner of the pan, while it got pretty shallow and crusty in the other end...sort of a mountain and valley effect.

I considered starting over again but decided that Jenny would get a laugh out of it. So I got ready to make the frosting. I pulled the sifter out of the cupboard and proceeded to put the powdered sugar into it, only to realize that the sifter was upside down! What a mess. But I plowed ahead and got the brownies frosted and glazed.

Later, I tried to put the lid on the pan of brownies, but the lid wasn't high enough. It touched the glaze, which, of course, stuck to it. So I discarded the lid and just covered the brownies with foil, using toothpicks to hold the foil away from the glaze, then wrapped the Gladware pan as best I could in gift wrap. Then I made a card for Jenny and included a note of explanation about the strange-looking gift.

I don't remember everything I said in the card, but I do remember telling her that, all in all, it was a pretty typical day in my kitchen.


  1. I'll bet they were absolutely delicious because they were made with love. Those gifts are always the best. And of course the chocolate part never hurts. ;)

  2. Hilary - You're right...they were good. Sometimes the things that look the worst taste the best.

  3. As Hilary pointed out, it only takes some TLC. I got my first cookbook living with four other guys.Before this dinner was taking turns going to the Golden Arches.We each made something each day and nobody could repeat this act, so eventually we all became good cooks.I can cook up a storm now, but still have a few failures, that is to be expected.Hoping you are ready for the holiday.Steve

  4. Steve - TLC does go a long way toward making cooking a success. It sounds as if you four guys came up with a good solution to the cooking problem. Doug and I have no close family, so we don't have much to do to get ready for Christmas. We'll go visit his step-family and his brother on Christmas Day. Other than that, it's a pretty quiet holiday for us.


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