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.
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 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.)