Sweet, Sugary Goodness

I’m supposed to be avoiding sweets.

Not eating sugary things would be good for my health. It might also be a sign to someone out there that I care about what they say and will honor their wishes for me.

But no one said I wasn’t allowed to bake.

I’ve been baking less often in recent times. When Mom was still alive and I lived with her, the oven wasn’t just used for the family’s macaroni and cheese recipe. A few times I experimented with cookie recipes, and one time I discovered that frozen red raspberries turn a bluish-purple when baked. Regardless of the change in colors, white chocolate raspberry cookies taste amazing.

When I moved into the apartment, I no longer baked for fun. Was there an event that I was going to attend? Did I need to bring food? If so, then I would fire up the oven. I couldn’t bake for fun, otherwise I’d have a month’s supply of cookies or cupcakes, and baked goods don’t last a month. And while I’d rather avoid talking about my ex, the fact is that he was a part of my life during that time. If either of us made anything, it was usually him just cooking something and bragging about it, but anything I made was only bragged about if I did my own bragging. It was as if I had just met expectations, not that what I made was anything special. Wow, the more I talk about him, the more I’m surprised I didn’t end things sooner.

Now that I’m staying with a friend, it’s not my oven to use. I don’t even have my own baking dishes. Cleaning everything I used is to be expected, so that’s not a problem. But I haven’t baked anything in the few months I’ve spent here. I’ve cooked a few things, but it’s been limited to whatever I decided to have for lunch.

But baking is completely different.

Baking is therapy. Mixing batter, unless you’re counting the number of strokes to mix something, doesn’t require your entire focus so you can process whatever thoughts are on your mind. The physical action of mixing batter is like stress relief, being able to work out any built-up tension by releasing it through muscular motion.

But, I wasn’t thinking of any of that. I was focusing on how much everything involved a significant amount of time and effort that I didn’t want to invest.

There’s a birthday party that I’m attending tonight, and the birthday girl has requested food to share in lieu of bringing a gift. So yesterday, while I was at the grocery store and foraging for dinner, I was also trying to figure out what to make for the party. I considered making mini, silver dollar pancake-sized okonomiyaki. I decided against that idea with a laugh to myself because I’m probably the only one amongst my friends who would look at it and be like, “yummy!”

But I also thought of other things I could make and bring with me. I thought about making muddy buddies/white trash/puppy chow (I’ve heard it called all three things) with Chex cereal, but something about that sounded like… too much work. I thought about Rice Krispies treats, even amusing myself with the idea of making Rice Krispies sushi, but… too much work. I considered making fudge, since I already had marshmallow fluff and would need some of the other necessary ingredients, but… too much work, too little product in the end.

Not everything was too much work. But the last time I celebrated her birthday at her place, I took brownies topped with melted chocolate. So I couldn’t take brownies again, I figured. It would become repetitive, and boring, and then it might become what people expect me to bring because that’s what I consistently brought. I couldn’t get away from the mindset that I had to bake something, though.

I decided upon making sugar cookies, so I picked up the packets of dry ingredients and checked to see what else I’d need, then grabbed some butter because that was all I really lacked. I also picked up some vanilla marshmallow-flavored frosting to put on top of the cookies, since it seemed like an appropriate flavor for the season of sugar-covered birds and bunnies that we’re in right now. I was going to get some food coloring, but I couldn’t justify spending $4 on something I only needed a drop of, so I opted to use my friend’s food coloring instead.

After dinner, I thought about how much time I had for everything. I started mixing the batter, then considered putting it in the fridge and baking everything this afternoon. Unfortunately, I considered the fact that there was no room in the fridge for my bowl of batter, so I had to bake last night. And then, I figured I’d spend this afternoon frosting all of the cookies, but since I thought the frosting might not set in time and the cookies would stick to each other, I figured I should just do everything last night.

And so, I was up until 1 in the morning, mixing, baking, frosting, arranging, and hoping that the cookies would still turn out just fine. I was exhausted when I was done, not because baking is so exhausting, but I think I managed to reset my circadian rhythm a little too well after Daylight Savings Time went back into effect. Quite honestly, I was fighting the urge to put things away and go to sleep, but I pressed on until every last cookie was frosted and put in a container.

I think the part I enjoyed the most was coloring the frosting. My palette of pink, purple, blue and green was vivid and beautiful, and I got a little obsessive and made certain that I had an equal number of cookies frosted for each color. I arranged them in the box as well as I could, trying to avoid having cookies touch each other if they were frosted with the same color, but after a while that didn’t matter as much. After everything was put away and taken care of, I went to sleep.

Today at lunch, the younger boy was home from school and was asking his mom, my friend, about making cookies sometime. To make his day, I opened the box of cookies I made and gave him one frosted in green, his favorite color. He was delighted! I mean, half the fun of baking is getting to eat freshly baked goods.

And let me tell you, I did a good job. Those cookies I made taste so delicious! I know, I said I should be avoiding sweets, but damn it, I have to sample what I made. Those cookies were made with love, you can taste it. Okay, I was listening to Himuro again while I was baking.

My cookies were made with love for Himuro music, but they taste so good, they can’t be avoided.

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