Friday, July 20, 2012

Keeping the sweeter things in life eternally scrumptious

Photo by Diann Eaton   

    All my life, I have loved baked goods. It’s not just about consuming for me, however. I mean, of course I love eating cookies, breads, cakes and scones with a burning passion. But there’s also the lovely idea of mixing together a cookie batter to perfection, baking them in the oven, and then setting them out on wire cooling racks, waiting for someone to come grab one on impulse. That, for me, is also where the magic lies. Pastries are a sugary, fluffy, and buttery way to satisfy any sort of sugar craving, reward yourself for accomplishing something important, or just a spontaneous treat to pick up as you pass a bakery on the way to work. Because, lets face it; as soon as you see the danish, you can’t resist the danish. Or at least that’s my way of thinking.

    Anyway, as I said, these pastries are something I have always regarded as a treat or extravagance. An indulgence, as some call it. And of course this was because my parents, like many others, tried to limit my sugar intake as much as possible when I was a child. This, of course, was in order to ensure healthfulness for their beloved daughter. Sounds like a pretty normal upbringing right? So now I not only enjoy a delicious scone from time to time, but I also enjoy baking for others and myself. It’s a hobby I partake in when I’m bored and sometimes helps relax my brain. I simply turn up Frank Sinatra or Vampire Weekend on Pandora, make the lighting in the kitchen as cozy as possible, and I have also been known to dig out one of my Grandma Issy’s retro aprons (just to make the baking experience a little more authentic).  

     Most of my recipes come from the Internet because in pursuit of ways to be frugal, I Google recipes for ingredients that I already have in the house. And I’ve even been known to use really odd substitutions for lack of certain ingredients. Think using melted chocolate coating instead of cocoa powder… it worked out surprisingly well.

    However, lately I’ve been using substitutions for different reasons. For some motive or another, everyone seems to be on this health crusade. Now I know that America has had its many troubles with obesity and there’s always a reason to try to aim for healthier options when it comes to the food we consume. But pray you, why are we ruining our baking with it? Seriously. The point of muffins, cupcakes, and tarts is to be a delicious treat! No part of me wants to eat a pastry that could be considered “diet food”. Instead of trying to fill our sweets with splenda (gross), protein powder, flaxseed wheat, skim milk, and other tasteless options that make baked goods taste like shit, lets make them the ol’ fashion sugary way. Why not just teach these people a little something about portion control? I haven’t the smallest desire to eat three sugar-free cookies just to have “less guilt”. Isn’t it far more worth it to savor that one delicious chocolate chip cookie? That cookie that took time and precision to create. That cookie that, though packed with sugar, butter, and chocolate, is bursting with a delicious and wholesome flavor, worth every bite. Save the healthy eating for dinner times when you should get your protein from lean meat and your vitamins from veggies.

     Rants aside, I did have time to include baking into my extremely un-busy schedule. Blueberry Almond Cookies were today’s baking excursion; very delicious, indeed. However I had to make my own changes to guarantee scrumptiousness. The recipe came from a famous celebrity chef whose name I won’t mention. Here’s a hint: she’s Italian. Narrow it down.

Photos by Eliza Eaton
     Anyway to give you an idea to how much better I made the cookies: I replaced skim milk with half & half, almond oil with vanilla extract, and lemon juice with cinnamon sugar. The lemon juice was, I’m assuming, added to compliment the flavor of the blueberries. Still, cinnamon just goes so much better with anything else and I couldn’t resist the opportunity to add it in. It was a worthy decision.

     As I said earlier, I really, really am a firm believer in healthfulness. I am also a very firm believer in indulging in the sweeter things in life from time to time. Those are the kind of pleasures that make a day a little bit brighter and better. Please just keep the Splenda the hell out of my cupcakes.



  1. This is awesome Eliza. Do you remember that afternoon tea we had at Julia's that day with ALL of those freaking baked goods??? OMG that was like pure heaven! I'm with you. No Splenda. No fat-free crap. Have you SEEN what's in that fat-free stuff? It's just a bag of chemicals. I'd rather have a bag of fat! LOL. Okay, well, maybe not a bag, but I'd rather one full on fat cookie than 2 non-fat cookies. It's an extravagance that I will work off later.

    1. That tea was such a great way to spend the afternoon. I am planning one for some of my girlfriends to come to sometime before I leave. I want to have baked yummies, tea, coffee, fancy china, everyone in dresses, flowers, the whole nine yards! Wish you and Julia were here cause I would totally invite you all :(

      Thanks for reading!