“C’mon Mom, just dip your finger in the batter. I promise you won’t get salmonella. Plus, it tastes good.”
Mom glanced over at the mixing bowl and shook her head violently, continuing to sort through her stack of blank greeting cards. Organizing each room in the house has become her new hobby during quarantine.
“No, I’ll get salmonella, and I don’t want to get my fingers all dirty right now.”
I sighed, as I knew this would be my second to last attempt at convincing her these chocolate earl grey cupcakes would be delicious and worthy of a mention in my new hobby, an illustrated quarantine cookbook. I wasn’t lying, the batter was tasty. But I knew the batter was a little funky--it was too liquidy and grainy for a proper cupcake batter. I had found the recipe from a blog on Pinterest, how I find all of the recipes on my to-do list.
It’s one of my favorite activities--whipping out my phone whenever I feel particularly inspired or creative, and scrolling through food photography on Pinterest, pinning the recipes that sound promising and also have equally as aesthetic photos to accompany them. The pros of this cooking method--I find unique, challenging recipes from all corners of the internet and all different kinds of chefs. The cons--how the recipe turns out is always a gamble.
In the past two weeks, I’ve made tahdig (crispy rice) with golden chickpeas, lemon crumble cake, cheesy chicken Cuban rice skillet, chocolate chip banana zucchini bread, and a proper bolognese. All absolutely mouth-watering, plate-licking delicious. I had taken a risk on several home cooks, and their recipe development aptitude had paid off. Except for this time.
The recipe advertised that the batter would make 12 jumbo cupcakes. My batter almost spilled over the edge of two cupcake pans, making 24 cupcakes. Oh well, into the oven they went. I spied on them religiously every three minutes, and every time I turned the oven light on, my brow furrowed even more. It looked like the grains of sugar were pooling into the middle of the cupcake with a liquidy coconut oil moat surrounding the mound.
When the timer beeped after 15 minutes, the cupcakes were flat, spongey, and still wet in the middle. Maybe five more minutes would do the trick? Nope. Nothing could fix the textural disaster, but hey, the batter tasted promising, so I took a bite.
Nope, nope, nope. Not good. Unable to accept my failure in the kitchen yet, I approached mom a second time.
“Mom, here, try one. They taste okay, but the texture is kinda weird.”
Mom took the bait and the plate. She carefully unwrapped the cupcake and took a small bite. Instantly, I could read the confusion on her face—the slo-mo chewing didn’t help the cupcake’s case.
Could it have been my fault? There’s a good chance. I don’t like to scrutinize recipes, reading every step twice to ensure it’s perfect. That’s no fun. I cook because it helps me relax and take my mind off all of the other things that I actually have to scrutinize and perfect.
But it doesn’t matter that they were terrible. I still had a great time throughout the entire process, whisking, cracking, melting, scraping, and listening to my “Café Paris - Vintage Lounge Jazz” playlist on Spotify. In the end, I laughed off my failure and accepted defeat. The cupcakes have been sitting, untouched, on the counter for three days and my whole family laughs every time they look at the sad cupcakes, desperately wishing to be devoured.
Right now, it’s more important than ever to do the things that bring us the most joy at home. Whether it’s cooking, dancing, singing, reading, or whatever, do it. Home is the new center of my world right now, and I’m going to continue to gamble on all of my Pinterest recipes. After all, it makes my day just a little bit more sweet.
From My Kitchen
A taste of what I make in the kitchen, and what I think about it.