Hump Day: If I’d known you were coming I’d have locked up my spatula

Hump DayHump Day
By Brian Cormier
Wednesday, Aug. 22, 2012
Moncton Times & Transcript
Editorial section

It seems like every time I see my very handsome godson, he does something that sparks an idea for a column. That’s the joy of having an even more handsome godfather who writes a newspaper column.

Anything you say or do may end up in print.

I dropped by his house for a visit over the weekend for parental payback after years of buying tickets on various school and hockey team raffles. This time, I was the one selling tickets for my Rotary Club. Come to find out when I dropped by that he was helping his mother bake a cake.

My godson is 15 years old, and I have to admit that not many 15-year-olds jump up and down with excitement to help their mothers bake cakes except, of course, when it’s for their girlfriend! Ah yes, throw a girlfriend into the mix and it’s time to step up to the plate and start showing some love by demonstrating your domestic abilities.

Yeah, I know. It was adorable. It was all I could do not to pinch his cheeks and give him a lollipop.

Not only was it a nice gesture, I’m pretty sure he now has all his friends mad at him, too. Baking a birthday cake for your girlfriend is a lot more personal than just a card and a date to the movies. Now, they have to beat that!

But what got to me was watching his mother bake. I’m sure everything turned out very well, but her measurements were approximate. She’d just half measure things and cook by eye.

I’ve always loved to cook, but I’m also a stickler for following the instructions, perhaps too much so. When I told her that she was making me hyperventilate by not measuring everything exactly, I nearly took over. “Move over, woman! You need to measure everything with the anal-retentive exactitude of a surgeon!” Well, maybe I didn’t exactly say it that way. After all, I still didn’t have her money for the Rotary Club ticket I was trying to sell her, so I had to at least be half nice. Not completely nice, mind you, but at least half nice.

She just poo-poo’d my concern and went along her merry way following the recipe “pretty much” as opposed to the exact letter right down to counting the grains of salt like I would. I’ve always teased her husband for being fussy, but I told her I was with him on this. Recipes are supposed to be followed to the exact, well, everything.

Now, don’t tell anyone I told you this, but I’ve found myself driving all over town for a certain ingredient even though a substitute was clearly allowed for in the recipe. I hate substitutes unless it’s something that I literally can’t buy in this country. Otherwise, there’s always the Internet and mail order! For example, let’s just say that key lime pie calls for real key limes and not regular limes. Am I right, folks? Of course I am! Finding real key limes is hit-and-miss in stores, so when I decided to make key lime pie one day, I insisted on using real ones, not bottled key lime juice or regular limes that you can find year-round.

I used real key limes once – and never again. Have you ever tried to juice those tiny little suckers? I thought I was going to go nuts!

Each of those tiny key limes has about a teaspoon of juice, so you’d better plan on spending a good half hour getting the amount of juice you need to make that stupid pie.

Regular lime juice for key lime pie is one of the few times I’ll use a substitute in a recipe. (Call the media! Stop the presses!) And if something calls for a cup of flour, one should use a measuring cup and hold it up in the air and squint at the lines through the glass to make sure it’s the exact amount. What’s up with estimating the amount and just chucking it in the bowl? Are you trying to give me a nervous breakdown, oh mother of my most handsome godson?

I love to watch America’s Test Kitchen on PBS and its sister show, Cook’s Country. These are great shows that rely on pretty exact techniques to get recipes just right. Recipes are tried and tried again until they’re perfect.

When you watch the shows, it becomes apparent that they use a certain spatula for nearly everything they do. It has a large heat-proof silicone scraper attached to a long red handle. Suffice it to say, I wanted it. No, I needed it. I was going to die if I didn’t have one. Literally, kerplunk… dead.

No other spatula would do. I needed that one. Now!

Of course, I drove all over the place looking for that spatula – department stores, specialty stores, you name it. No other spatula could do spatula-like work like that spatula could! (Say that 10 times!) I ended up ordering it online.

To this day, I refuse to tell people what I paid for it because it was so horribly expensive after shipping costs were included. There are starving children in the world and I can’t believe I spent that much money on a spatula. For that amount of money, that spatula should do my laundry and spit money out its rear-end.

And the craziness doesn’t stop there. Now, I’m desperately scared to use it because I don’t want to break it. Yup, needed it so badly that I was going to die without it and now I’m too scared to use it just in case it breaks. Thank goodness all my hobbies aren’t this stressful.

It’s enough to make you want to eat an entire cake — from the bakery!

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