I'm a busy woman. Because of that, when I arrive somewhere with a pastry box full of cookies or a cake I tend to field a lot of questions about how I have the time to bake. I will concede that I have a job that I am passionate about that I probably focus on too much. On top of that, I have a fulfilling personal life with my husband and dogs, so maybe the questions are warranted.
But the fact remains... the more time I spend baking, the more I can't imagine my life without it. Baking appeals to my love of scientific inquiry. The constants provide comfort- if the oven is correctly calibrated and the baking time is consistent, my cookies will ALWAYS bake to perfection- but the variables provide room for creative discovery- changing the amount of liquid in my royal icing will affect whether I will blend, flood, or pipe a design.
There is also a sense of 1950's wifey joy that comes from lifting the glass bell lid from a fluted cake stand to reveal a perfectly fashioned, homemade cake. When done while wearing an embroidered apron and bearing a self assured smile it isn't old fashioned or dowdy- it's chic!
Most important, however, is the fact that using hand-selected ingredients and my heart and hands allows me to create something that brings people together in a sweet way. Freshly baked goods have a communal way of drawing a crowd to our home. Homemade goodies transform a care package in a way that no other item can. Even sharing photos of what was made in your kitchen via social networking can inspire conversations intimate enough to encourage others to turn on their ovens and fire up the stand mixers.
My new favorite example of home-baked bonding occurred this weekend. One of the most influential ladies in my life, Mrs. Lisa Dalton, happened to see the photos of my Valentine cookie designs on facebook. As luck would have it, she was going to be in Austin for Valentine's weekend and she asked if I wouldn't mind decorating a dozen or so for her.
What a thrilling moment! Doing something I love for someone I love- of course I could find the time for this one! But wait, it gets better...
On Saturday, I drove out to Westwood High School where she was judging a dance competition to drop off some cookies and reconnect. I arrived to a very warm hug and a surprise reunion with my favorite dance instructor from high school, ladies I danced with in college, and a few former Southern Belles to boot. People I probably wouldn't have had a chance to reconnect with otherwise- all because of two dozen cookies!
Life doesn't get much sweeter!
Love from my kitchen,