When my husband and I moved in together, it became evident that certain things would be left to him, and certain things to me. His idea of “making the bed,” for instance, involves mostly pulling at the blankets until only part of them are a giant, wadded-up mess; I prefer a taut surface you can bounce a quarter off of. But when it came to meals, it was soon evident that he’d be the main chef (as I’ve discussed, I’m not much for cooking).
But one thing I do like to do in the kitchen is to bake. Perhaps it’s my tremendous sweet tooth, but I take great pleasure in taking some time over the weekend to produce some shortbread, or an easy cake. I’m a very exacting person, and while I can’t handle cooking and its vagaries (“cook until browned” – WHAT DOES THAT MEAN? HOW BROWNED IS BROWN ENOUGH?), baking is all about precision. When I take a few hours on a Saturday to produce some scones, I know exactly how much flour to use, how much baking soda, etc. It is very difficult for me to feel that I can screw it up, and I like that.
There’s also a sense of accomplishment to baking. We went apple-picking recently, and the result was not just a full two bags of apples, waiting to rot; it was a very nice apple cake, which even I enjoyed (and I’m not much for fruit desserts). It’s nice to feel that while in much of my life, the moment one thing ends, another to-do pops up, when I’m baking, I start and I end, and there’s a delicious product at the end of it.
So what’s the problem? As always, financial concerns crop up. Before we had our lovely, rent-free living situation, I was very careful with what and how much I baked. It can get expensive to pick up ingredients, so I stuck to simpler items (scones, which have very few moving parts, and bread mixes from Trader Joe’s, some of which have proven to be delicious). I was also loathe to buy new kitchen equipment, with the result that my items often didn’t come out as planned. No matter how hard I tried, hand-mixing just wouldn’t produce the quality of egg white fluffiness certain items needed.
But now that we’re married, and not paying for rent, I find my financial concerns around baking are allayed, if not entirely vanished. We received a number of excellent items for our wedding, including a KitchenAid mixer and a few new pans. Our new bundt pan has already been used a number of times (for the aforementioned apple cake, and even for a frittata my husband made recently). And I don’t torture myself much over the purchase of some high quality chocolate chips, or strange new ingredients for whatever Saveur tells me will bake nicely. In the end, it’s a cost that’s worth it.
Have you cut back on an activity you enjoyed because of cost? Or are certain things worth it to you?