As long as I can remember I have always loved to bake. I know some people LOVE to make cookies or brownies or cakes but to me, it never mattered. As long as there was a bag of sugar, a few sticks of butter, and a carton of eggs I knew whatever I was doing would be fun. I can remember spending afternoons standing on a kitchen chair acting like I was baking all by myself when in reality I was screwing up my mom's cookies. I would help her make banana bread and brownies and somehow, even with a toddler as a sous chef, everything turned out like it was supposed to. I still have no idea how she pulled that off, but I think that's where my love of baking began.
In high school, I used to come home on really bad days and refuse to tell anyone what was wrong. In typical moody teenage fashion, I would respond to all inquiries about what happened at school that day with answers like "nothing" and "I'm fine." After sulking for an hour or so I would move my pity party to the kitchen to bake a batch of cupcakes. My family always knew when I was upset because there would be a batch of therapy cupcakes on the counter after dinner. I loved focusing on ingredients and thinking up creative ways to decorate the treats once they came out of the oven. It would always calm me down, give me a chance to cool off, and offer something to think about other than whatever was upsetting me.
All through college I kept baking anything and everything. I would make cookies out of whatever I could find in my sorority house. I would make lemon bars to help me beat the winter blues when I hadn't seen the sun in a week. I taught myself how to make cake pops and bread and pies (which I don't even like... but I like making them!). Once Zach and I moved in, though, I pretty much stopped baking. Well, that's not entirely true. I have made a few batches of sugar cookies and I baked Grandma's 85th birthday cake, but that is pretty much the extent of me baking in my kitchen. For some of you that probably seems like a lot. I mean, we have been married for just under a year and I have baked 9 or 10 times since I moved into this house. For me, the girl who used to bake something almost weekly, I had practically given up this hobby.
I might have stopped baking because I didn't want the treats around to eat. I might have stopped because I didn't like going to the store for ingredients. I might have stopped because Zach and I are always saying we are going to try and be healthier and that is a lot easier to do when you don't have 13,000 calories staring you in the face every time you walk to the fridge to get a glass of water. Mostly, though, I stopped because I hate cleaning my kitchen.
This past week I had two massive baking projects that could not be avoided, so even though I didn't want to wreck my kitchen, I rolled up my sleeves, dragged out my jumbo bag of flour, and plugged my Kitchen Aid back in. My class for school was selling Valentines Day cookies and we didn't make enough during the school hours. I spent 8 or 9 hours rolling and cutting sugar cookies into hearts and Zach spent 8 or 9 hours stealing cookie dough and helping me frost and package the cookies. As soon as that project was wrapped up, I moved on to baking a sweet 16 cake for my sister-in-law.
Now just for some background on both of these projects, I did not start either of these things first thing in the morning. Both projects got done after work and were not even started until about 6pm. I also procrastinated to the point where I did both projects the night before, probably because I didn't want to deal with cleaning up my kitchen. It really makes no sense... waiting till 6 the night before just means that I am cleaning my kitchen at 2 in the morning, but when I am thinking of other things to fill my time procrastinating seems like the obvious choice. Also, both projects were massive undertakings. I baked over 150 cookies and a 2 tiered cake I found off Pinterest in the span of 4 days. I can honestly say I will never agree to these two projects in the same week again, but I did have a great time doing them.
Anyways, while I was working on the Birthday cake Zach volunteered to be quality control. He tasted the batter, the frosting, judged the colors of everything and even decided how thick to cut each cake layer. I am horrible at making decisions and was thrilled to be able to call him off the couch to come make all the hard ones for me. I guess I called him over one too many times because when he came over to check and make sure I made the buttercream "pink enough" I ended up with frosting on my face. Next thing I knew it was on my clothes and in my hair, too. While laughing harder than I have heard him laugh in a long time he sprinted upstairs to (hopefully) avoid retaliation.
Not wanting to let him get away with this, I grabbed a spatula full of frosting and tried to break into the locked bathroom upstairs to get him back for what he had done to me. By the time we finally got back downstairs this game had turned into a full on food fight. As I walked back into the kitchen to clean the frosting off my face I saw sprinkles on the floor, powdered sugar all over the counter, and a bright pink buttercream handprint where Zach had almost fallen while racing to get more frosting ammunition. I didn't think about what a mess this would be to clean up or how long it would take to wash the pile of dishes in the sink. I didn't really even think about how I was going to get hot pink food dye out of my clothes or the kitchen towels. Instead, I just laughed.
Never in a million years did I think I would be having a food fight in my kitchen with my husband at midnight. Food fights happen in movies and school cafeterias and with small children. They just don't happen in real life with adults. When I stopped laughing long enough to think about what was happening I realized that messy kitchens like this one are the reason I love baking. Somehow when you add a bunch of carbs and sprinkles and frosting together you get something that brings people joy. While desserts and pastries taste good, its more than that. These baked goods make people FEEL good. They make them feel happy. So while I can say that the food fight was a pain to clean up at 2 in the morning, I can't wait till the next time I end up with a messy kitchen.