Tag Archives: cooking

More Muffins.

I don’t bake.

That is, I don’t bake anymore.

When I left culinary school, it was largely because my pastry chef assured me that I could indeed, NOT, bake. Like, AT ALL.

So I left school, and I went to work for a coffee shop, where I went in each morning at 3:30 a.m. to work. And what did I do, you ask?

I f*cking baked. And that chef was WRONG because I was good at it.

But I never liked it one bit. The recipes and rules and precision of it all.

Keri. No. Likey.

I love to cook. To riff. To toss things in a pot and see what happens.   My roast chicken coping method is the closest I come to a rule book, and that my friends, is an ART.

Baking is math. I hate math. (Sorry boss…  I know you don’t like me to admit that.)

It’s just not me.

Except that now it is.

March 15th I had to do something.  I looked across the room, at my son sitting on his tablet, content for the moment but concerned about what was then his “extended spring break,” and I needed action.

In the kitchen I had bananas. I had ancient flour in a good airtight container in the depths of the pantry.  I had baking soda.  I had mayo. (yep. Mayo. Google it.) And I had these dudes in my house who were just going to BE THERE like, for WHO KNOWS HOW LONG (ok… they are my family, and they live here, technically – but still…. WTF!?)

So I took out some stuff, and I took out my big ass mixing bowl that gets like, NO action, and I started baking.

I kind of haven’t stopped since those first banana muffins.


those first banana muffins

Because right now, in the face of absolute chaos, the rules of baking feel good.

I can follow a recipe and if I do it just as they say, it comes out just as it should.

We can’t say that about anything right now. You can follow everything they say and still end up sick, or jobless, or mourning or whatever other shitty thing might randomly dump on you.

Baking is control. In a time when we have no control.

Judging by the amount of #breadporn pics blowing up every time I open Instagram now, I am far from alone in this.

Incidentally, I have mad respect for the bread effort – it was very specifically what I think of as “the French bread incident” that finally drove me out the door of culinary school forever. So if you have bread skills, I salute you.

So I stick with what works. Goodness knows these boys can put away some muffins, and so there is a constant demand from the (albeit fairly captive) audience around The Casa.

Outside of my kitchen, the world, and sometimes even other parts of my house, are saturated in unpredictability. (Seriously, what the hell kind of art project/Tasmanian Devil impersonation is going on in my living room right now!?)

But back in the kitchen the warmth from the oven is making me feel toasty and safe, and the well-loved big ass mixing bowl now has a place of honor in the front of a convenient cabinet, ready to help me restore the order in my mind and in my soul – at 375 degrees, 18-20 minutes at a time.

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My White Whale.


This, my good readers, is a Big Green Egg.

Actually – this is THE MR’S Big Green Egg – a Christmas present from Dr Sissy’s husband, Dr BIL, who has a serious Grill-mance going on with his own BGE (those in the know abbreviate it… because that is how cool they are.  I am probably not.)


I confess it took us 5 months a hot second to get up the nerve to tackle assembling the thing, but all of the other ILs that had received one in Dr BIL’s frenzy of  BGE gifting assured us that it was easy to do, and then we would instantly want to use it to cook ALL THE THINGS.  (I use “we” like a Royal We here, referring to me… because while The Mr tells many tales of his past outdoor cooking prowess, he has not demonstrated it to me in our 15 years together.  So long live Queen Keri, may WE ever grill on and on.)

Not going to lie – we fucked up the assembly in kind of the biggest way you can fuck it up.  (This time the “we’ actually means The Mr, but you know… whatever.)

BUT we got the severe underbite fixed eventually (not even kidding, it is like having a needy child,) and I was pressured to ready to get to smoking.

Here is the thing.  In my past four years of being VERY Reluctantly Suburban,  never have I EVER been so reluctant about anything as I was about this damn Egg.

In all my English Lit Degree nerdery, immediately named it Moby Dick…  it was my White Whale.

As it turns out, I am not great with fire.

No wait….that isn’t really it.

I am beyond unreasonably completely ginormously terrified of fire.  (Remember the Lantern Fest?  Yeah.)

See that pretty little Grill next to the White Whale?

That’s my sweet baby grill – the Charbroil Patio Bistro.  Hello lovely.    The Patio Bistro is PERFECT for highrise living – it is electric, but it isn’t one of those Foreman grill/glorified panini press/ why bother situations… it has an open grill grate positioned over basically an oven heating element.  GENIUS!!

I cook up a storm on that sucker.  And on my  flat top electric stove (So even! So clean! So safe!)

Then I settle in to watch the flames dance in my fire pit that burns giant cans of Sterno.

For reals… Keri no likey the fire.

I was the only girl scout in Troop 1062 to NOT get her fire badge.  In culinary school I LOATHED the gas stoves that everyone else adored. I have been perfectly happy keeping the Patio Bistro cooking along for the past 4 years, though we are now FAR from our 6th story patio and I could switch to something different.

No. Fire. No.

Except here is this damn egg.  And I have to fill it full of this fancy lump charcoal and light it on fire and get it going really well…  on my  back patio. ON PURPOSE.

There were some stops and starts, people.  And day drinking to calm my nerves (except then I was like “OH SHIT, now my judgement is compromised… am I fit to tend the flame!?)

And many, many, many, MANY calls to Dr BIL for advice, reassurance, moral support, (and even for drink recipes… because seriously, needed the booze. )

So I filled up the bottom with the charcoal and placed the little starter blocks around the pile, said a prayer and lit those puppies up.

Now it IS called a smoker…  so I shouldn’t have been so surprised.  But it was SMOKING LIKE HELLFIRE as it got going.   Like Whoa.  Like how did the neighbors not think the back of The Casa was en fuego, yo?

So I thought it was going good enough, and the smoke and the OPEN FLAMES were making me pretty nervous, so I set the plate set down inside over the  flaming situation, and then shut the lid and said a prayer (Ok, there was pretty much continuous prayer after I saw all that damn smoke.)

I threw open the bottom vent as wide as it would go, and (after putting the whole situation out from lack of air – stupid high altitude,) I pulled the daisy wheel off the top completely, (note how I use BGE terms comfortably now, like Elle Woods and legal jargon, amirite?)

EVENTUALLY, after panicking and cutting the airflow off several times resulting in having to relight, I got it to a good even temp and tossed on some Brisket and Ribs.

So. Much. Pressure.

I had The Mr… I also had the Mr’s parents.  That is a WHOLE mess of people from Texas to be around if you jack up your cook, yo.

ANDPLUSALSO, there are all of these horror stories on the interwebs about people who open their Egg too fast and cause a rocket like flame up that takes every hair on the top half of their bodies or whatever, and you know, there’s that whole “ SCARED SHITLESS OF FIRE” thing I have going on, so no pressure there, RIGHT!?

But I managed not to burn the house down, and also to actually keep the thing lit (after a few false starts due to my chicken shit nature,) and dinner that night was good.

So good, actually.

BUT –  I don’t feel the need to fire up the White Whale BGE every day and night…

The  guys of the ‘hood are all uber excited about it, so maybe I can get The Mr  hooked on smokin’ in the future, eh?

In the meantime, I would tell you not to call the fire department if you see a TON of smoke rolling up from the back of our house…  but we have some hot fire men, yo. 

So, better safe than sorry… Right?

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