Amateur in the Kitchen

I don’t remember the first time my mother plopped me on the counter so I could help stir a batch of cookies. But I’m willing to bet that most everyone remembers their first unaccompanied foray into the kitchen. Mine came at age seven. Playing hooky from school (a sore throat or something similar) I had my heart set on whoopee pies. I’d seen enough of these marvelous chocolaty sandwiches come out of the oven. It sure looked easy enough. Reading the recipe was a cinch, but somehow my mind transposed 2 cups of flour into 2 tablespoons of flour.

It was a curious thing. I just figured that the expanding puddle of batter was going to magically mound up into the cookies. It didn’t with the first pan, nor the second pan. But I had a large collection of wafer thin cooked batter. And then my older sister walked in from school. Three years older and wiser in the ways of the kitchen, she quickly took over, corrected the batter, then forced me to eat the first two pans of my finished product. In the end, I had my favorite dessert but was too full to eat any. The family seemed to enjoy them, and nobody but big sister bothered to lecture me about the dangers of the kitchen. I think they felt I had been adequately scolded.

In remembering this childhood incident, I am reminded of things past. So much of what was in my mother’s kitchen is now in mine. That old cast iron fry pan, the corn steamer, a certain two cup measuring cup… I still have some of those old cookie sheets kicking around somewhere.

Sixty years have passed since those whoopee pies were made, and though the recipe has not changed, the method of preparation has. The advent of the stand mixer has radically altered the method. Faster, more efficient, and I get a lump free batter; and the sticky addition of marshmallow cream to the filling is a breeze. It is so easy to tweak it a little now, and not end up wearing it.

Another wonderful baking item that I’ve come across is parchment paper. Right up until I discovered that, it was wax paper that lined the round cake layer pans. I wonder just how much paraffin the body can handle. Parchment paper now lines every cookie sheet, cake pan, and jelly roll pan, regardless of the content. It sure makes those whoopee pies slip right off the pan. And what it does when it comes to cleanup is awesome. There isn’t much of that at all.

Family dinners, meal bartering, and just plain baking and cooking to please my own palette have lead to many happy days in the kitchen. Don’t you love a request for a favorite dessert? The advent of new kitchen products just increases that desire to get in there and test a new recipe. I think I’ve got the whoopee pies down pat now.

Marylyn Hale has had her nose in the oven for over sixty years. She currently helps run a website where they sell bakeware sets []. You can visit her site at [].

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