Thursday, January 31, 2013

Unhumble (or, Why I Will Never Be a Food Blogger)

Yesterday was my mom's birthday. I offered to bake her a cake, and she said yes. I was pretty excited, since I have an ever-growing cake board on Pinterest, but I rarely get a chance to bake cake. I mean, we're just two people here. (Or at least, just two cake-eating adults.) We can't healthily eat an entire cake by ourselves. Which means that if I bake a cake without an opportunity to offer some to other people, one of two things will happen: the cake will go to waste, or Keith and I will get fat. Both of which are tragic outcomes. ;)

(Keith is often suggesting that I bake things to give away. Which I love the idea of, but when I try a new recipe, I'm paranoid of giving it away without trying it first to make sure it actually tastes good. Also ... I just want to taste it, hehe.)

I have no pictures of the cake I made, but it looked a lot like this only drippier (think a solidified ring of ganache around the bottom of the cake, lol). I don't have the presence of mind to take pictures while cooking, and anyways I do most of my cooking in the evening when the light is horrible for photography. Clearly I will never be a food blogger!

Anyway, the only change I made was to make a ganache for the top instead of simply melted chocolate (in other words, I added heavy cream when I melted it). And I have to say, it was pretty good. Neither the filling nor the chocolate was too sweet. And everyone complemented my cake. And all I said in response was "thank you."

Four times out of five, I can't present my cooking without apologizing for it in some way, even to Keith. If I try a new or unusual recipe for dinner (like winter root pie, or berry cobbler with added lavender (which was really really good btw)), I dish it onto the plate and bring it to the table and say, "Well, we'll see how this turned out." Or, "This is okay, but the sauce is too soupy." Or, "ehhh, I should have cooked this a little longer." Always some imperfection.

And it's good I keep track of what I want to do differently or better next time, because that will make me a better cook over time. But the problem is, my automatic response to any complement is to point out my own failures.

I can't say that this comes from a place of humility. First of all, humility doesn't consist of denying your own strengths and successes (although it doesn't seek out acknowledgment of them). At best that's dishonest; at worst it's a form of pride. Second of all, it's not that I don't like the complements ... but this response is so habitual it's like a defense mechanism. Maybe if I point out my own mistakes I show that I'm more "mature" than, say, a little kid who proudly displays her artwork that no one can recognize? That doesn't seem compatible with true humility to me.

I do the same thing with knitting. These mittens, for example. I love stranded colorwork and I want to get Very Good at it. I have yet to knit anything stranded without some puckering somewhere from having too tight a gauge, and it kind of bothers me. So when I show you these mittens, it is only with great effort that I restrain myself from pointing out each and every place they pucker.

See the puckering down the palm--how the stripes sort of disappear into a fold in the fabric?
That being said ... I love these mittens. A lot. And I am proud of them. (Or at least, the one I've almost finished.) And of the many places where it doesn't pucker. ;) So here they are, without the catalogue of imperfections to accompany them. And I won't point out the other imperfections, on my blog or on my Ravelry project page.

I think I'll be able to finish this one tonight.


  1. I wonder if this is a mark of an artist. "This needs to be fixed," "Sorry about this small problem," "Maybe I could've done this instead," "I still need to work on this..." Etc. Cooking isn't too much different from writing or knitting or painting or what-have-you, especially when aesthetic appeal is tossed into the mix. Also, that cake looks and sounds delicious.