I did it in the kitchen last night.
I had Saturday Night Live ready on DVR and wore a lazy girl’s ponytail for the occasion. The plan would be to do my business by the stove and then lounge comfortably with a cocktail, watching Amy Poehler on my sofa. It would be a sleepy Monday evening in… or so I thought.
How deliciously wrong I was.
“Hi, my name is Jamie and this is my first time,” I think to myself.
Like any good man, he reads my mind. My electric mixer, that is. Some call him “Kitchen Aide” but after last night, I call him “darling.” I was intimidated and unsure of how to work him at first but he knew all the right moves.
The recipe was for “Chocolate Buttermilk Cupcakes” with home made Italian butter-cream frosting. I made them from scratch.
It was sensual and wild and by the end of it there was flour in my hair and butter on my shirt sleeves. I may have gained three pounds but they were good, glorious pounds.
Consider this: Most of my weeknight dinners require a two inch slit in a plastic film covering and five minutes in the microwave. I don’t cook and I don’t bake unless it involves a box with the Pillsbury Dough boy on it.
But on this night in the cool of late September, I discovered the ecstasy of cooking. All in the name of cupcakes.
I stood barefoot in the kitchen in my stretchy pants with an elastic waist, made for nights when I blindly devour eight spoonfuls of cookie dough and three fistfuls of chocolate chips. Every girl has pants for occasions such as this, trust me.
I sift a cup of fluffy white flour like into fairy dust over lumps of brown sugar and cocoa powder. A sprinkle of salt and teaspoon of baking soda come next.
The autumn moon glimmers along the kitchen window as I swirl my floury confection with a worn wooden spoon. I crack three eggs whites into the mixer and with the flip of a switch my beloved Kitchen Aide beats my egg whites into a fluffy meringue. A drop of vanilla and three sticks of softened butter (yes, three sticks of butter) and I can already taste the decadence on my tongue.
I pour the wet ingredients in with the dry and stir with all my heart and soul. In that moment I swear I can hear the coos and awes of my great, great grandmothers up in heaven as they watch me toil and tarry like a witch standing over her cauldron of brew, to get my batter just right. “That’s our girl,” great grandma says.
By the grace of the culinary gods above, I get the batter to look and taste as it should: gooey, chocolaty and thick, the way a pioneer woman would make it. The way cupcakes should always be. No processed additives, fake sweetener, or “low fat” substitutes. Life is too short for Splenda. Eat the real thing and you’ll feel better, I promise.
Into the oven it goes.
Cooking plays with your emotions. It toys with your sense of reason and rationality. If you were a reasonable and rational person in the first place which if you’re like me, you aren’t.
I realize this the moment I place my cupcakes into the oven. A kitchen stove set at 350 degrees will determine the taste and texture and possible life changing ability of an hour’s worth of work. This toying of my emotions only adds to the ecstasy of it all.
Real romance gets messy and feels uncertain but never ceases to satisfy in a most sultry way, in the end.
And sultry it was. Perfectly plump and moist cupcakes were pulled out of the oven after twenty minutes. I cooled these chocolate love children for an hour before I poured myself a glass of Merlot and slathered them with luscious butter cream frosting.
I witnessed what happens when you mix a hodgepodge of ingredients, the dry flour in with the wet egg, the lumps of brown sugar in with the soft cubes of butter. It’s art. It’s the craft of creating. It’s serenity.
With a cupcake in hand and frosting on my chin, I plop onto my sofa as planned. Life as a twenty something working professional may not be as exhilarating as the collegiate days of fifty dollar bar tabs and 2 a.m. high heel blisters, but it’s simple and it soothes the soul.
I’m unsure about a lot of thing in my life. How I’ll pay off my student loans, when I’ll finally write my first novel, or when my car needs it’s next oil change, but on what could have been just another dull Monday night at home, I found something to be sure of.
Combine flour, eggs, butter, brown sugar and cocoa powder and bake at 350 for twenty minutes and it doesn’t matter when I’ll pay off my loans or how many more miles ’til my Nissan needs an oil change, I’m going to have cupcakes.
No matter what.
And I’ll never look at a “Kitchen Aide” the same again.
In the words of the great Forrest Gump, “that’s all I’ve got to say about that.”