Don’t even try slipping a Duncan Hines mix past me. Canned frosting makes me puke. Box brownies are pathetic. And supermarket birthday cakes? Let’s just say I’ve given up lard for Lent.
I've never drunk the Martha Stewart Kool-Aid.
My house is not immaculate. I don’t own a glue gun. I also don’t scrapbook, garden or knit.
Alright, I’ll say it. I staple my hems.
But there’s one domestic chore I’m a real wack job about.
I realize most mothers barely have time to shower, no less bake from scratch. But I believe that when your family looks back on your life together, they’re more apt to fondly remember the taste of your homemade apple pie than your gleaming floors or fourth-quarter sales awards.
Priorities, people. It’s all about priorities.
My Inner Dessert Nazi came in handy when I was told I had DCIS or “ductal carcinoma in situ.” (That’s “carcinoma” as in “What?! How’d I get breast cancer?”) Fortunately, they caught it so early, I dubbed it “breast cancerette,” because I wouldn’t need a mastectomy or chemo. But I would need surgery to scoop out the bad cells, and radiation to mop up any that may have squeaked past the scalpel.
Six-and-a-half weeks of radiation. Or roughly 1,092 hours of worry.
You see, if worrying was an Olympic sport, I’d be on the Wheaties box. I knew I had to do something to get my mind off things. So I did the only rational thing a woman in my position would do.
I started baking.
The radiation techs gave me the idea, actually. On the third of my 33 treatments, I mentioned making a blackberry cobbler the night before. “From scratch?” one of them asked, as if I was talking about some exotic, 19th -century activity, like brewing my own sarsaparilla.
Suddenly, it hit me. These people eat hospital food, day in and day out, for heaven’s sake. They need me!
A few days later, I brought Dessert #1: a red velvet cake and cream cheese frosting, layered with raspberries and blueberries (my friend Jen’s recipe, straight from Arkansas).
The next week, I brought a warm-from-the-oven strawberry-rhubarb pie with crumble topping. After that, a flourless chocolate cake with a bowl of freshly whipped cream, and so it went throughout the summer. I must have looked pretty comical to the other patients in the waiting area. There I sat, in my ultra-stylish hospital johnny. With a two-layer apple-carrot cake on my lap.
(Full disclosure: Baking wasn’t my only fear-management strategy. I also relied on the Boston Red Sox to occupy my mind. Did I watch every inning of every game, cramming my head with ephemeral facts, like David Ortiz’s batting average or Curt Schilling’s E.R.A.? Yes, I did. And then I baked some more.)