Friday, December 14, 2012

Batter Bowls

I wish I had blogged earlier in the day, because now the tragedy in Newtown, CT weighs down all my thoughts. I started an entry in response to the tragedy, but I don't think I really want to say anything. My heart goes out to all the people touched by the shootings.

I'll try instead to write about something far less significant: licking the batter bowl. My mother tends to doubt her own skills in the kitchen; for my part, I figure she did better than could be expected, given that I was an awfully picky eater--we mostly ate homemade meals, and that's something. But no one can dispute her mastery when it comes to desserts. As proof, I have the yearly school pictures depicting my continual chubbiness right up until my growth spurt between freshman and sophomore years of high school. She had a huge variety of desserts: cookies, bars, cakes, just a few pies, and other things that just fell under the broader category of "dessert."

Growing up with all these desserts being made, we always seemed to have a mixer bowl around with some kind of sweet, fatty goodness clinging to its sides and beaters. An only child, my experience growing up with these bowls gave me a cavalier attitude toward salmonella and a sense that it was both my divine right and my solemn duty to lick the batter bowl clean. In some ways, this last feeling is a corollary to the classic parenting lines about starving children in Africa and the importance of not wasting food. I mean, I was pretty sure that no children anywhere were crying over the canned green beans or Brussels sprouts that might be discarded at our table, but the bits of chocolate chip cookie dough still on the sides of the pan? I might have cried to see that wasted, never mind the starving children.

Now, as an adult who would like to eat a healthy diet, I struggle with these deeply ingrained habits any time I make desserts. Well, okay, any time I make anything. Seriously: I'm even tempted to lick the spoon when I've mixed buttermilk and whole wheat flour and nothing else in preparation for pancakes the next morning. My rational mind knows that it tastes absolutely terrible, but when I see it there on the spoon, some part of my mind doubts that anything clinging to a spoon could taste anything other than divine. Also, except when I already know the outcome, like this, my reaction can only rarely be described as "struggle." I have the white flag of surrender out before the first chip has been fired. In fact, as likely as not, I'll be "licking the batter bowl" before I've even finished making the cookies or whatever I'm making. I may have the uncooked approximation of a dozen cookies eaten before I finish baking the rest--it's not just for efficiency that I typically triple the recipe. And all this doesn't even account for the ones hot out of the oven that get eaten "for testing purposes."

But there's a part of me, at least retrospectively, that regrets it, and occasionally I like to throw that part of myself a bone (which is about all that part of me can chew on without regret). So I do have to castigate myself a bit for my poor--if highly conditioned--choices with regards to batters of all sorts.

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