“Don’t judge a book by its cover.”
With a simple expression, kids are taught to look inwards, to the content and character of something or someone before determining its worth.
As a small child I took it literally, carefully examining each book I picked out, even if the cover “looked stupid” because I thought that’s what it took to be a good little girl. I had a tendency to take most turns of phrase at face value as a child. It made for some confusing times. “Don’t drink and drive” had me berating my mother for reaching for her can of root beer while on the road. “Don’t run across the road” had me traversing a crosswalk at a snail’s pace, the whole way, even as a car waited patiently at a stop sign for me to cross.
It can be hard to not judge food by its cover. Green plates of food scare off most children. Brown plates of food look somewhat dead. Baked goods not oozing with chocolate or studded with bright colours of fruit look… boring.
These cookies look boring.
Yet, I cannot stop eating them every time I make them.
One of my favourite things about baking is how it’s basically just delicious chemistry. I mean, the most important ingredient is love, of course, but at its base, it’s science that you eat.
Sweet, sweet, delicious science.
Not surprisingly I am a huge fan of Alton Brown and his “Bill Nye the Science Guy” approach to food. I love watching him explain not only how you go about whipping an egg white, but why you whip the egg white in that way and what happens to the proteins as you whip it.
Another love of mine for similar reasons is America’s Test Kitchen and all their corresponding publications. Just as every proper scientist should, they take classic recipes through their paces, just like experiments, testing them over and over again until the ultimate baked good is created. Cookie recipe not soft a chewy enough? ATK will make that recipe 100 times with minute changes in each iteration until everyone feels it’s the best cookie their kitchen could make.
So when I came across Baking Illustrated, a huge cookbook from ATK of their best baking recipes, I had to buy it.
What’s your favourite food?
It’s always either a really easy or really tough question for people to answer. For me, it’s easy.
If you made me pick a flavour, that’s when it gets tough. Really, if you just make it cold, make it smooth and make it sweet, I’m there. Although the “sweet” isn’t necessarily required, and can be unexpected, but good.
This one is definitely sweet, but it also has a little tang. It’s a little different. It’s got vinegar in it. It’s no vanilla soft serve, but don’t worry, it still tastes pretty good in a cone.
Apple is an ingredient that makes me feel warm all over, all the way to my toes.
The deep sweetness of baked apple, typically paired with cinnamon, nutmeg and other spices… something about it is just so cozy.
I hated yogurt as a child. It was much too tangy and reminded me of sour milk. My mom understood the concept of hiding healthy stuff (yogurt) with stuff kids like (sugar), and taught me that I could jazz up plain or vanilla yogurt by adding a little brown sugar. I was immediately sold.
Not on yogurt, but on making my yogurt a vehicle for brown sugar.
My mother would apply the brown sugar in the appropriate ratios, taking a container of yogurt and adding a little sprinkling of brown sugar on top. Just enough that I could see sugar was involved. If I managed to get my hands on the sugar spoon, I would mix a large tablespoon of brown sugar into my yogurt with another scoop on top. And sometimes halfway through (after all the brown sugar topping was gone) I would find it too tangy again and add a little bit more.
This was not exactly what my mom had in mind for me and yogurt, so I tried to be sneaky about it. As a mom, she probably knew anyway. She can let you know.