Monday, February 17, 2014

no single bite could satisfy

Lately I haven't been traveling to faraway places. I have not really had much vacation time, but also the motivation has been sorely lacking. There are lots of reasons. Probably, primarily, just sheer exhaustion from residency. It's tiring and I don't like to drag when I'm at work-- so I will work my 30-hour shifts, while grumbling all the while, mind you, but at some point, it all catches up to me, and when I want to decompress from it, the idea of going on an involved vacation seems more wasteful than anything else.

But not to whinge. Because honestly, I am well aware of my good fortune. It just so happens that I live in a place that allows me to get to plenty of what I want and need. A stay-cation is all the way justified around here, because a short drive gets me to the ocean, the mountains, the vineyards, and my niece.

Even then, I did some real staying. Some time at home in my kitchen, and now I am well aware of my age, because I was much more pleased to spend a day tinkering around with making pie crust than I would have been flying somewhere.

I bake a lot because it's something that's actually become rather expected. And that's fine, because it still doesn't feel like an obligation, but rather a routine, that has a soothing quality to it from the very rote of it. But every so often, the scientist part of me itches to experiment, and I want to learn some new technique or try some new recipe. It matters to absolutely no one; I have no delusions otherwise. It's not like I'm becoming an expert at anything, and it's not like anyone else cares about any of this.

But that's part and parcel of the decadence of it all. It feels like the height of luxury, the day I spent rolling out pie dough, and learning to make pastry cream. I might have cursed at how small my wooden rolling board is, and how one of my whisks malfunctioned. Maybe I groaned at the batches of macarons that failed before I got to one that was passable. You would think that would make for more frustration than relaxation, but for some reason I have made my peace with failure. At least in the kitchen, I look at every failure as just a finding from an experiment- troubleshoot, tweak, try again. It's actually a comfort now when something fails the first time I try to make it-- then when I've figured out why and gotten it to work, I know it wasn't just a fluke. I know I can write it down and it will keep.

But still. A person likes to feel some sense of hope. So I ended that day by cooking up an industrial batch of salted bourbon caramel, which I knew would turn out - because I had failed at it in the past, of course.