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Susie Homemaker Confession

It will likely not come as much of a surprise to many of you that no-so-deep-down-inside I long to be the perfect housewife, the hostess with the most-ess, the envy of all my friends who wish they could cook, or wish they had the time to cook. I look through the shiny pages of my Julia Child cookbook (and yes, occasionally I smell the pages) and dream of having hours to bake all her delicious concoctions. I’m terribly old fashioned – my girl-power friends would be ashamed of me if they knew the depths of my desire to spend my days wearing an apron, frittering about in the kitchen. My admiration for Martha Stewart, Betty Crocker, June Cleaver, and the legendary Julia is embarrassingly strong. I pride myself on all the home cooking I do. I smile (and possibly giggle in delight) when things turn out as beautiful in person as the photos in my cookbooks. I spend time each week surrounded on the couch with my cookbooks, reading recipes and making grocery lists, and day dreaming about all the ladies who’ve been serving these tried and true dishes to friends and families for generations. I think about my grandmothers and how they looked in their kitchens…strong, capable, warm, and loving. I long to be that capable…however, I must confess…many times I do not live up to my own expectations, particularly with baked goods. I’m not sure if it is my ridiculous lack of patience, my stubbornness, or the fact that I am terribly clumsy…but often times at the end of a baking expedition I find myself exhausted, frustrated, covered in something sticky, and a little sick from all the finger licking and taste testing.

Last week was a prime example – cake balls. True to form, I had been bragging up my cake balls all summer to friends and family, after a mostly successful experience making them for Matt’s cousin’s baby shower earlier this summer. So, decided I would ‘whip’ up a batch for Matt’s birthday and then ‘whip’ up another batch to share with friends during the ISU/IA game the following day. The concept of a cake ball is not complicated. It is not even Julia or Martha worthy for sure, because it is comprised of cake from a mix (for shame) and frosting from a container (I know, I know). These are two things not even I, a Julia wannabe would normally EVER bake, let alone serve to others. However, because there is surely an ‘art’ to making the cake into a ball and decorating it with various melting candies and frostings, I deemed them worthy to be served. So I set out to make 2 batches of cake balls – which of course had to be different.

While I could end my post here with pictures of how beautiful they turned out and smile smugly as people praised me and marveled at my amazing baking skills…it wouldn’t be fair. For truly I spent hours…HOURS...messing with those blasted balls. I fumbled with the balls in the candy melt when not even halfway through the balls the melted candy decided it didn’t want to be melted any longer. I tried to re-melt it. I tried adding oil to it. No matter – it had made up its mind. It would not be bested by me. I had to dump the rest of it out and start over with another color. Grrrr…I tried putting sprinkles on them in an attempt to hide their imperfections. At the end of the endeavor they looked slightly round, bumpy, blobs covered in sprinkles. I placed them strategically on the platter to look intentional that some were white and some were red. And no one was the wiser – because truly cake balls are delicious. Though Julia would be very unimpressed…not just with my pitiful presentation, but surely she would turn her nose up at the very un-homemade-ness about them. My ISU/IA cake balls turned out only slightly better, thanks in part to more frosting in a container. Oh, the processed horror of it all.

Of course, they were a hit. I sent home bags with friends and family so Matt and I wouldn’t consume thousands of calories worth…but still, the victory of the cake balls is hollow to me because I know deep down that no Martha/Julia wannabe would ever truly approve of them. Maybe if I could pull off a beautiful smooth, round cake ball – perfectly decorated with fondant frosting or some such thing. But alas – I am no great baker. Every year at Christmas time I spend hours upon hours baking various cookies. I take pride in the fact that they will all be homemade…but truly, they look like it. My red frosting always looks like Pepto. My green frosting like toothpaste. Granted, they will taste wonderful and my dear husband will consume mass quantities with a big smile on his green tinted lips. He admires my baking skills – even as he watches me fumble and fume and make an enormous mess in the kitchen. He eagerly waits for samples and is always, always encouraging to me when I get frustrated at my own inadequacies. He knows my strive for perfection is ridiculous and loves me none the less. He puts up with my frenzy each time we are expecting company and he lovingly accepts that this is likely something that won’t be changing about me any time soon.

After this most recent cake ball debacle I exclaimed that I would NEVER MAKE THESE AGAIN!!!! However, days later, as I savored the final bites of my last cake ball…I thought…perhaps at Christmas….


Emily said…
You crack me up. It all ends up in the same place! Have you ever read about the stuff they do to make food look great in pictures? You'd never want to actually eat that stuff! And it sounds like you're skimping on the food coloring. You should need a new bottle of red every Christmas. :)
Campero said…
Emily ~ we need to compare notes! I struggled with the same thing on these! matter how terrible they looked, they still tasted fabulous!! Maybe we can learn from our mistakes? :) (Amy Campero)

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