The Christmas season is upon us and that means baking and cooking for family and friends. Cookie swaps and open houses. Pressure. I can handle cooking pressure. A major holiday meal and a hot kitchen- no problem. But not baking pressure. I am not a baker. I cook. Period.
I made two batches of cookies this week and one batch of Citrus White Chocolate Fudge. (Recipe to follow later). By the time I was done, I was exhausted. Exhausted from precise measuring, specific cooking times and egg temperatures! What’s that all about?
Here is what I came to realize:
- Bakers are cerebral. They are meticulous and patient and take great pride in making it perfect..to the specifications of the recipe.
- Cooks are soulful. We are a bit more challenging and creative and our pride comes from mastering a variation on a recipe…not a copy.
- Bakers are gentle. They fold ingredients and roll dough.
- Cooks are not gentle. We pound chicken, grind coffee, and whip anything we can with a gusto.
- Baking has little substituting. If you run out of Baking Soda, you CANNOT sub in Baking Power.
- Cooking loves substitutions. If you run out of Basil, a pinch more Oregano will suffice.
- In a baker’s kitchen you will find many tools and instruments to measure and mix. It is sometimes quiet and concentration is required.
- In a cook’s kitchen you will find bare hands, licked spoons and chaos. There is music and talking and commotion.
I had one grandmother that baked and one that cooked. One was tough and unyielding; the other kind and loving. My daughter Amelia was named after the cook. My grandmother was soulful and kind and cooked that way. You could taste it in the food she cooked, at the table she set, and in the feel of her kitchen. My other grandmother presented the most amazing baked goods. Perfection with a reflection of my Italian heritage. I have her old cookbook with all her baking recipes but I cannot get into it. I’m not a baker.
My kitchen is the center of my home. We have had parties with 75-100 people in the house and 80 of them in my kitchen. I love that. It makes me happy. I believe it makes Chip happy too. He is a cook. He is the pizza man and as I have stated before, when we cook together, it is like a dance in the kitchen. Sometimes unspoken words lead to the creation of amazing dishes.
As they say, you can’t ride two horses with one ass. Well this fanny is sticking with cooking and I’ll leave the baking to the professionals. Merry Christmas, try this recipe. It’s easy. Ready?
Citrus White Chocolate Fudge
- 16 ounces of white chocolate chips
- One 14 ounce can of sweetened condensed milk
- 3 tablespoons of unsalted stick butter
- orange and lemon zest to taste
- smidge of lemon juice to taste
- white sparkling sugar sprinkles to decorate
- ok mix it all in a glass Pyrex and nuke it for one minute. Stir. Check it and nuke it in 30 second intervals until smooth
- pour into a parchment lined 8×8 pan
- cool in fridge for two hours
- cut in squares. Note in the picture my perfectly anal-retentively cut squares. Not.
- Enjoy and relax. Maybe with some brandy. Yum.