Terri Kaiser

Lately, I’ve been watching a couple of baking shows and have come to the realization, I'm not as good as I thought I was. Oh sure, I can make a great Strawberry-Rhubarb Cream Pie, or a yummy Zucchini Bread, or Chocolate Chip Cookies. But to watch these people in action, truly impressive. They do wonders with ingredients I’ve never even heard of.

That being said, they make mistakes too and it just warms my little heart to no end. To see one of their cakes crumble into a mountain of mush, or the middle to come out of the oven still doughy, and the decorating not resemble anything you’d imagined—well, it’s just so validating. The interesting part is that these contestants have to keep going despite the mistakes and make it all work. Believe me, I’ve had my share of fumbles, bumbles and flat-out foibles that end up lining the insides of the garbage bin. But to have to take that mistake and turn it into something worthy of a judge—Yikes!

Their creations, when done right, are so pretty. I’d feel guilty sticking a fork into them which would compound the guilt of ingesting all those calories and carbs. And who needs more guilt? But still, I admire their talent and the entertainment they provide.

Many years ago, and I mean many, I found a recipe too cute to pass up. In fact, I thought, wouldn’t it be a nice surprise to show up Christmas morning with a box of these confections, one for everyone? The recipe was for these baking soda biscuits molded to look like candy canes. Part of the dough required red food coloring, then one was to twirl the red dough with the white, then use green coloring to make little leaves along with red holly berries. After they came out of the oven, I drizzled icing over the top. Oh, they were so pretty.

I had just enough for everyone and quickly set about wrapping them up in boxes with bows on top. Meeting the entire family that morning, I handed out the boxes. They all opened them right there and ooo’d and ahhh’d over my wonderous creations. That night, back home, I tasted one. Let’s just say, it was a lesson in saving one out to taste test. Okay, in full disclosure, I feared they didn’t taste as wonderful as they’d looked, but I put so much into it that I thought no one would notice.

One bite in and the flaky layers stuck to the roof of your mouth like Elmer’s Glue, not that I’ve ever eaten Elmer’s Glue, but one can imagine. They were so dry, a gallon of milk was needed to wash them down. To my family’s great credit, no one said a word after the fact. And I never did anything like that again. Sad, really, as my skills have improved greatly since those days. Really, they have.

But the lessons keep coming.

I recently tried a white brownie recipe based on the classic Texas Sheet Cake recipe. If you’ve never had a Texas Sheet Cake – oh my! It’s chocolate ecstasy. Anyway, this recipe was called an Almond Texas Sheet Cake. I love almond, who doesn’t? Well, this concoction was so sugary, we could barely eat them. They sat on the counter, just begging to be eaten, but neither of us could make ourselves do it. If only we still had kids around!

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