Baking is messy… Duh.

I realize it should be common knowledge that there’s no way to cook or bake and keep your kitchen absolutely spotless at the same time.  Could someone please bring my boyfriend up to speed?

After preparing for two days for a party that I was quasi-catering this last Saturday (more on that later), my kitchen looked like a flour/chocolate/sea salt/jalapeno bomb had gone off.  You try sautéing jalapenos without the seeds popping and causing little jalapeno chunks to fly about the room!  So Friday night, I sweetly walked into the living room and asked if Rich would do the dishes.  To be fair, there were a lot less dishes then as I hadn’t started baking round two, and his definition of “do the dishes” is wash what fits on the drying rack and call it a day.  He agreed and (two hours later) walked into the kitchen and took stock.  The next words out of his mouth were, “This is just not fair.”

After a bit of a row about who does more kitchen work, we came to the consensus that we’re both lazy and moved on.  But this got me to thinking about the fact that my workspace has been decreased to about half of what I’m used to.  This means that when I use the electric mixer and accidentally have a batter explosion, I will most likely find bits of dried batter on the table across the room when I’m cleaning later.  Fun.

So I’ve decided to change tack.  No more using four different bowls for one recipe when one or two will do.  No more using the electric mixer when I can just use good old fashioned muscles.  Actually washing the dishes that I’ve just dirtied instead of leaving bowls with drying bits of pear for the dish fairies to clean.  Etc, etc.

If you ask my parents, they’ll tell you I’ve always been this way.  And I have to say, it’s rather endearing when a nine year old attempts to lift a ten pound bag of flour and accidentally creates a white powder geyser that reaches the ceiling.  Not as cute when a grown woman does it.  And yes, I know that after I cook a meal it usually looks like a meth lab explosion in my kitchen, but I think the tastiness makes up for some of it.  Right?

So now to the catering thing.  My sister’s husband’s sister’s husband (take a minute, I’ll wait) hooked me up with a woman he knows who was throwing a wine party this past weekend, and given my endeavor to start a small baking/catering business I was more than happy for the free publicity.  I prepared over the prior week by researching wine parings with desserts, which most people don’t seem interested in.  Apparently, if the food contains a large amount of sugar, the sommeliers of the world just say “Riesling” and move on.  But a super sweet white dessert wine is just boring sometimes.  And not everyone likes it.  And I’m a perfectionist who has to be new and different damn it!  So I researched wines and their flavor notes and tried to match them with my bastion of recipes.  And after about four days of coming up with possible menu options, only to nix them because of cost or logistics (you try to make caramel pecan cakes that have to refrigerate overnight only to be baked right before being served in a pool of syrupy caramel to 30 people), I decided on some of my favorite comfort food style options, said “Riesling” and moved on.  Thankfully, no one at the party seemed to care too much.

The wine was good and the food was great, which I didn’t say myself.  I got a lot of half-full-mouthed-“this is delicious” compliments.  And pretty pictures.

There were salted brown butter rice crispy treats, pear bread, jalapeno cheddar scones, chocolate dipped candied orange peels and grasshopper squares (fudge brownies with mint and chocolate ganache layers, not pictured).

I have to say, the scones were not my best.  A tad dry and flavorless, I was not as happy with them.  I blame it on the unusually small size I made them to attempt to turn them into finger food.  Full size scones only from now on.  But other than that small personal failure, it was a triumph.  Even the 100 or so orange peels I made were voraciously eaten, which I did not expect given the unexpected taste of candied peels which most Americans seem confused by.

So now, three days later, my kitchen scrubbed within an inch of its life and returned to its pre-explosion glory, two freshly baked loaves of banana bread (they’re the humane bananas, I promise!) on my kitchen table, and rain and hail preventing my from going to the store like I had planned this afternoon (if you’ve ever seen LA drivers in the rain, you’ll understand) I have to figure out what to make for dinner.  Crap.

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