What does Chrissy Teigen, my momma and scholarships have in common?
So Christy Teigen, my momma and scholarships. What’s the connection.
As I shared last time, my son’s dessert at Thanksgiving sparked joy and a feeling of comfort that only my mommas spirit could do. It was like she was reborn in the cheesecake. Not literally but in the sense that I felt her presence as if to say it’s going to be alright.
With this new found sense of connectedness I had dived in head first into becoming a baker.
I told myself that despite the many bad bad bad experiences I had with baking that this tune was different for me my spirit was leading me.
No more baking soda cookies.
No more cakes that looks done on the outside but clearly not done on the inside .No more lemon meringue pie with a flat slim of a meringue on top and jiggly insides
I got this!
But first I set some ground with myself about how I would go about this.
No if you have been a terrible baker, grab your note book I’m about to share the secret sauce on making desserts that are incredible
As a modern day woman who worked 50 plus hours a week while raising a family, being deeply involved in church, a socialite and working out regularly enough to avoid being nominated for my 600 lb life, being a better cook was something I wanted to do but never something I had to do.
I could dabble here and there but if I failed it didn’t matter. The kids survived nicely off of frozen meals and desserts provided by the catering companies of banquet Swanson staffers and Marie’s calendar along with the contributions of Aunt Sara Lee, Aunt Betty Crocker and Uncle Jiffy.
Fancy homemade foods and desserts came from momma. She was keeper and upholder of family ritual of gathering and eating. She did it so I didn’t have to.
However with her gone I had to step up and being the one to keep the ritual going.
It always amazes me how the one who is the likely to carry torch is the one who worked the hardest to avoid torch.
However I accepted the challenge and was determined to do better this time. Instead of jumping right in and experimenting and failing I took sometime to ask myself what the deal was.
Well I identified three key areas where I failed.
- I always chose desserts that were over the top. My day dreams of being lauded as the best baker ever always led me to try complicated recipes which lead to problem #2
- I never had all the ingredients – I would some but not enough or none at all – but I would not let that discourage me. I would just find a substitute it (like baking soda for baking powder – because aren’t they same thing – I would think in my non cooking mind) or leave it out all tougher (because 1/2 teaspoon of baking soda doesn’t make that much difference right) but it didn’t matter because #3
- I was always in a rush. I would try to cook in between project. I work in the high demand field of fund raising . Im always working on a project, grant, event, something. In my line of work there is always a deadline. So I multi task. Which when you cook from a package most of the time, it doesn’t matter. But when cooking mostly or all from scratch, it does matter.
Good baking requires effort and time something that people are often short on these days even with Covid still lurking.
However, not cooking was not an option for me.
And now that I knew where I went wrong, it was time to go right.
- one the recipe has to be for a dessert I’d pay for more than once. I liked a lot of desserts but cookies, cake and pastries I’d bought two and three times a week. So my first recipe would be a cake, cookie or pastry.
- Second – the recipe had to have simple ingredients (eggs, butter, flour, etc). These are ingredients that can be purchased at my local grocery store. Traders Joe, Whole Foods and other speciality foods stores are not considered the local grocery store. When you are starting out you have to build up your supply of cooking ingredients. You don’t want to spend money on ingredients you’re only gonna use once. You want items that you will uses over and over – so keep it simple.
- Third – the recipe it has to be easy to make – no complex form of mixing or prepping or baking –
- Fourth – the recipe has to have high reviews online or be made by a baker known for providing recipes that novice home cooks can make and it be a hit
Beyond the recipe, I had to make time in my schedule to bake and be willing to buy a few cooking tools like measuring cups, spoons, baking pans, utensils, a cutting board and a rolling pin. All items easily and cheaply purchased at any dollar store.
Now using the steps I just shared I set a weekly appointment with myself and the kitchen to make Sunday dinner followed by a delicious dessert
I usually make my menu on Saturday morning while enjoying a cup of coffee and toast with butter and sometimes jam or jelly. Nothing like breakfast dessert.
Then Using my criteria for finding the right recipe I look through food blogs and recipe websites seeking the dessert of the weekend.
The first time I did it, I picked the lucious Cinnamon Rolls made by Pioneer Woman Ree Drummond. It hit every nail.
- it was a sweet bread – close to the cake category
- It had simple ingredients – lots of butter, sugar, flour and a few other items
- It was easy to make Her recipes give literal step by step instructions- nothing is left to figure out – many recipes has pictures of each step which I love
- It was a Highly rated recipe and by a highly rated chef – Ree Drummond story is the kind of story I like to share because she started her blog the Pioneerwoman in 2006 as a way to share about her life as a mom and a wife on a ranch with her husband Ladd who she lovingly refers to as the Marlboro man (he does look like a Marlboro man). She has five children including their adopted son. She shares their rituals as a family. They were like are family.
I set aside the time on Saturday evening my cooking date with an early morning Sunday date as I some items are better cooked day of. For the first time in my cooking life I made sure I had all the ingredients. I followed the instructions to the tee. Because I had set aside time I didn’t walk away and forget I had rolls in the oven and they burn up. Yes I’ve done that many times. Cooking disaster.
When I pulled out the first batch of cinnamon rolls and topped it with the smooth sugary coffee glaze I made , it was something to behold. I felt like the worker at Krispy Kreme when the donuts roll down the conveyer belt and are bathed in glaze. You turn on the Hot and ready light and everyone comes runnin. I didn’t have a light to turn but when I called for taste testers my son and husband were readily available to try.
My son, having sampled past desserts , was hesitant but being polite took a small bite My husband – always my cooking cheerleader – good or bad – he bit into his sample with an expectation of deliciousness. He was not disappointed.
He gave it the thumbs up. Good job Vette these are amazing – you made these from scratch- and you said you couldn’t bake.
My son stood a bit in shock taking small cautious bites. He seemed to be waiting for when the too much would kick in – the too much baking soda or the too much salt (my standard replacement for baking powder) when it didn’t he looked a bit shocked then looked at me and happily ate the rest of the roll. Then sheepishly grabbed another.
Momma you did good like this was really good. Maybe the curse is broken.
Yes the curse is broken. In my heart the song can you feel a brand new day from the wiz sprung up. I was Diana Ross Dancing and jumping around in my rubie slipper – well my mommas bunny slippers more like it – which I wore when I cooked – a little from momma was always welcomed.
My son celebrating with me suggested my next dessert should come from Chrissy Teigen. A follower of pop culture, he came across her many posts of recipes form her cookbook Cravings.
He gave me a website link with her top recipes – what should appear almost immediately – her infamous Banana Bread. Infamous because it’s such a beloved bread that she can use it like currency to get things like Romaine lettuce from one of her social media followers when she couldn’t find any in the store. That’s bread power.
- Picked banana bread – fits my dessert profile – I love quick breads as it like cake, simple ingredients, easy to follow instructions and highly rated
- Share cooking experience – the banana pudding and coconut threw me
Can I say success. Can I say back to back wins. First the rolls now the banana bread. I’m the Michael Jordan of my kitchen.
And can I say I love this banana bread so much that I just keep the ingredients on hand so I can make it at a moments notice – it has become a family and friend favorite
After that success I became unstoppable. I started a family ritual of making Sunday Dinner with dessert for my husband sin sister and I. It was like Thanksgiving every week. I was doing Sunday Just like my momma used to.
Thank you mommy!
And this is why I created What’s For Dessert. I want to inspire you through recipe sharing, recipes reviews and with interviews of the every day and the not so every day baker and dessert maker and to show you how dessert making and dessert sharing can build community and family.
I especially want to inspire the failed cooks and bakers who see no hope for ever being able to cook a grand dessert much less a grand meal.
I want you to know that I learned when you follow the steps I shared you go from dessert disaster to dessert master overnight. You don’t have always rely on someone else’s cooking you can do it yourself. Your hands can cook and bake the ties that bind family and friends together.
I’m here to tell you you got this.
Now we talked about my momma we talked about Chrissy Teigen now let’s talk scholarships.
In the meantime, I’m going to get started on my Sunday dinner and we are having (meal) with Sweet Potato pie – at your house – what’s for Dessert