It started when I was 3 (or perhaps it started way before that, but my first sentient memory is when I was 3. It wasn’t of food but of sitting in the toilet, telling my Mom I wanted to…uhhh…oh right…food blog).
Let’s try this again…It started when I was 3. I remember my Mom making brownies. She’d slave over them in the kitchen, taking the time to whisk, fluff and do all the things one does before brownies magically appeared on my plate. Sometimes, when she didn’t have the luxury of time, a ready-made mix would be used. On others, she’d bake the brownies from scratch. Either way, they tasted just awesome.
Clearly my need to show appreciation translated to me trying to chomp her face right off
I’d have the pleasure of being Mommy’s Little Helper, which basically meant I was responsible for licking – yes, licking – the bowl clean of the chocolate-y gooey mix. It’s a hard job, y’know. But I did it, and did it well. Too well.
*cut to present day*
I cooked, out of necessity, when I was living in England. I never baked; it wasn’t my thing. I was perfectly happy to assist and/or watch/take photos while my culinary goddess flatmate, Anne, whipped up fantastical things every week with happy regularity. When I moved to London, I didn’t even bother assisting…I just gobbled up my best friend’s culinary efforts with great aplomb. Cooking regular dishes that take minimal time – I can do it, but I don’t particularly get much satisfaction out of it. *effectively scares away crazed aunties looking for prospective matches for their sons/nephews/grandsons* Hark, hear what the desi aunties are saying: “What? KHAANA NAHI BANA SAKTI?! [translation: She can’t make food?] Khaana banana achha nahi lagta? Hai hai…kya karegi ghar main?! [translation: She doesn’t like making food? Oh my goodness, what will she do in her house?]. I can cook y’all – my white sauce pastas and chicken parmigiana are just awesome. I’m just not down with the desi food yet.
Anyhoo (why am I trying to prove my cooking skills…better the aunties stay away!), I don’t know what happened today, but I said: I AM GOING TO BAKE.
My mother tried…she tried to dissuade me. She said, no. No. A thousand times no (smart woman). I said, NO, I shall take pictures. I could see my Mom’s face going: “She’s going to ruin my kitchen over her stupid pictures.”
I thought to myself: look, I don’t have to do the cooking-from-scratch thing that more accomplished people seem to do. I’ll take the easy way out. Not Betty Crocker’s this time, but the bottle of “Billion Dollar Brownies” that I’d bought from Gourmet Point at Taste of Dubai.
That should be easy, right?
<insert maniacal laughter here, like when Darth Vader was thinking: haha stupid Alderaan you think you’re safe, I’mma Death Star the shit outta you>
One stick of real butter or eight tbps, it says. What’s one stick? Real butter? Like Lurpak? I give up trying to unfreeze that slab of butter, since I can’t even tell how many grams I’m expected to throw in and take seven tbsps of margarine (it got over). Then: four eggs and two tsps of vanilla. Vanilla? I hope they meant essence because that’s what I dolloped in. I start mixing.
My Mom comes over: “What are you doing?”
Me: “Mixing the stuff Mom!”
Mom: *pregnant pause* WITH A TABLESPOON?
She gives me a whisk and tells me to put my strength into it and not be a lily-livered wuss when mixing like I’m some delicate princess. MIX, she says! Alas, I was a wuss. I whimper and nag and feel the perspiration start. It doesn’t help that it stays lumpy.
She takes pity on me and hands me the electric whisk. WHHHEEEEEEEEE I go, and the mixture looks less lumpier by the minute.
Then I’m instructed (by the handy little leaflet around the bottle) to add all the dry contents of the bottle to the mix. I do that. Then turn on the electric whisk again: WHHHHHEEEEEEEEEEEEEE!
At the end, I throw all the chocolate chips in.
And then it looks just about okay.
I then slick the tray with vegetable oil, and stick the thick mixture in. The leaflet said to pre-heat the oven at 350°, but my Mom (Smart woman) scoffed and hit it at 180°.
By the time I’m done wondering why on earth I suggested I’d bake, it’s time to stick the entire thing into the oven.
After 20 minutes, that brownie smell permeates throughout the house – I would know…I was in my room and I could smell the brownies from upstairs. A toothpick was the judge of whether it was ready (it was) and then out it came.
How did it taste? Actually quite nice. I doubt the same effect would’ve come if I’d done it from scratch (my Mom would’ve probably thrown me out of the place halfway through if I’d done that, plus I’m not a very natural cook…I need measurements; intuition has no place in my life when I cook). It was warm and soft, and a bit fudge-y on the inside, and had been baked enough that the top was crispy.
Would I do it again? No, I don’t think so. If, at 24 years of age, baking makes me feel exhausted (and just from a ready-made mix!!!) … it’s safe to say it’s not for me. It is, however, extremely easy for anyone else who wants to bake something and do it quickly. Seriously, if I had a tiny smidgen of patience and a hint of love for cooking/baking, I’d be making brownies with this bottle every day. It took about an hour – mixing and baking inclusive.
Now…eating these brownies? That I’m taking great pleasure in. It’s a one-off for me, but damn does it taste good.
Massive shout-out to those who bake and do it well – you people are absolute rockstars. I don’t know how you do it, but better you than me!