Dec 18, 2005

A Baker…I Am Not

12/18/2005 — cori

I have been scampering around the kitchen all day now, trying to get all the delicious, tasty treats made to pass out to my neighbors. So much love and thought and effort have been poured into this project. I even recruited the kids.

The first little delicacy we were preparing was called: peanut clusters. Mmmmm, good! Who doesn’t like peanut clusters (besides the poor people who receive anaphylactic shock from ingesting anything made of peanuts)? I thought I would try to begin a new family tradition where we joyously worked together, all contributing a small part and – Voile, create a gift made entirely out of love and family teamwork that our neighbors could enjoy. What world was I in?

Bennett volunteered to be the peanut cluster ‘helper’. After he put his chair in just the right spot to reach the counter, I allowed him to empty the ingredients into the bowl. And of course, in his 4 short years, he has already come to be an expert in almost every area. So, he had no need of my help or encouragement – even when items were falling on the floor. However, most of the ingredients made their way (miraculously) into the bowl. I even let him hit the buttons on the microwave. I wanted him to feel every bit the cook.

Once the ingredients had melted, we enjoyed the aroma that wafted about us and we (Bennett) sighed and complained and merrily worked along side one another (interpret that to mean, me holding tightly to his hand as he stirred, in order to ensure all melted ingredients remained in the bowl). I even brought him to tears at one point because I must have been ‘helping’ him a little too much while holding his hand and directing him.

Then it came time to ‘plop’ the gooey mixture onto the tin foil. Oh boy – if he didn’t need any help earlier, he certainly didn’t want me anywhere near him now. I have come to learn the word ‘plop’ can be interpreted differently to each individual. His ears must have heard, “Bennett, please shake the spoon with all the gooey, chocolatey, peanuty, stuff as hard and as high as you can so that only a little makes it onto the tin foil and the rest flies about in a beautiful array all around the kitchen. I would especially like it if you and I could be covered from head to toe with little chocolate droppings. Oh yeah, and if all the plops could be almost on top of each other instead of neat little rows – that would be a nice touch.”

It killed me to see these ‘plops’ being placed anywhere but in neat little orderly rows across the tin foil. But hey, I bit my tongue for the sake of ‘family bonding time’. I had to keep telling myself that this wasn’t about perfection and orderliness and cleanliness….it was about our time spent together and doing something for someone else.

I thought I’d learned my lesson, that is, until Gavin helped me with the next item on our list of treats to make.

I saw this cute little recipe for ‘white chocolate snowballs’ that looked easy and fun to make. I no longer hold that opinion about these candies. If I had known ahead of time that you were going to have to dump a whole can of peanut butter and a whole bag of powdered sugar in the same bowl and then stir for forever, I might have opted out of the project. But Gavin and I were already knee deep in a sticky, sweet mess with powdered sugar floating around the kitchen like dry ice. Then it got even better.

Next we were supposed to take this mixture and make little balls out of them. Gavin was like,”You mean I have to put my hands in there? I have to get dirty?” What boy doesn’t want to get dirty? The extra special part about rolling the little peanuty, sugary balls was when your hands started to stick together because the peanut butter created a sort of glue which made it nearly impossible for you to roll multiple little ‘snowballs’ without washing your hands between every 2 ‘snowballs’, thereby, making the process last an increasingly long time. Which is great since we want to spend quality time together working on something out of the love of our hearts for our neighbors. Good idea gone bad.

Gavin ditched me after the 4th washing of his hands – he just couldn’t take it anymore. So much for our fun new tradition. But, it only got better. I thought the final touch would take no time at all. All I had to do was melt the white chocolate chips and dip the ‘balls’ into them using a little toothpick. Whatever! A few problems presented themselves at this stage of the game.

The first being that I chose to microwave the white chocolate chips instead of heat them in a pan on the stove. Efficiency is my ‘thing’. However, wasting all my ingredients is not. I ended up burning the white chocolate chips (evidently I didn’t stir at the right intervals). Now what was I supposed to do. How do you make ‘snowballs’ without anything white to dip the balls in?

I decided to be ingenuitive and use the chocolate chips I still had sitting in the cupboard. They weren’t white – but what the heck, we’ll call them ‘chocolate snowballs’ instead. Now came the tricky part that involved a toothpick and the balls. Do not try this at home – even if the recipe says to. Trust me, it doesn’t work! The toothpick, once inserted into the little peanuty ball, only helps in ruining the ball. Then, once I tried dipping the ball into the chocolate, still holding fast to my tiny toothpick, the disaster came upon me. I lost my ball. My toothpick slid right out and now I had to do a search a rescue for my ball lost in the melted chocolate.

I ditched the instructions and used a good ol’ fashioned spoon. Time is of the essence here now. I was the only one left in the kitchen and I wanted to go find my family and take part in whatever joy and pleasure they were sharing in together without me. Forget the neighbors, I should just go buy something from someone who really knows how to bake. But then, practicality stepped in and reminded me that we (I) was doing this out of the love of our (my) hearts and we(I) wouldn’t want to have wasted all that time already spent.

The balls have all finally been dipped. I am now sitting here waiting for them to harden in the fridge. I even already wrote little cards to put inside the gift bags telling everyone what kinds of goodies they were receiving – white chocolate snowballs is on that list. I guess I’ll have to tell them that we dropped all the snowballs in the mud. That would fit in perfectly with our family’s tendency towards clumsiness and accidents. Aren’t you glad you’re not my neighbor?

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