Lauren Baity is an editorial contributor to Prana & Pie; for more about Lauren, see her bio below.
I like to cook but I hate to bake. Cooking is creative, improvisational, organic. You can throw in some extra ingredients and it will still taste great. You get to use knives and play with fire. You can “eyeball it”, in the words of Rachael Ray, on the measurements. If you try eyeballing baking measurements your cake will come out tasting like corrugated cardboard.
I should know. I recently attempted to bake a flourless cake from a recipe given to me by my glutarded sister. Even with one less ingredient to worry about, I still managed to botch the job. I didn’t assemble my ingredients beforehand and midway through, I realized I didn’t have any honey. I dug through the pantry and found a bottle of agave. Figuring it would be an acceptable substitute, I lathered my cake batter with agave and stuck it in the oven.
An hour later, I took one bite and broke into a fit of coughing. It was bitter and dry, and somehow found a way to coat my windpipe in a nuclear cocoa sludge. My sister insisted the recipe wasn’t hard, but then again she’s a baker, a type A personality, a summa cum laude graduate from the state’s flagship university.
And I’m not. I’m disorganized – my room usually looks like the aftermath of a robbery. I procrastinate – I once had to throw away a French press because the mold that accumulated after four months of sitting on my counter could have been used in a biochemical attack. And worst of all: I have no plan for my life.
While my sister is earning 40k out of college, acing the GREs, and plotting the next jumble of letters to add to her resume (MA, PhD, WTF), I have made several trips to the plasma donation center and taken up blogging. When people ask me what I want to do with my life, I usually tell them I would like to be the dictator of a small country. Nothing too big, but rich in natural resources and capable of nuclear armament. Sarcasm is the only way to fend them off.
What can I say? I’m a cook and a writer, and I’m finding that the two are actually quite similar. I like that odd mixture between planning and spontaneity. I like spending hours crafting something that is consumed in minutes. And I love when people enjoy something I’ve created. (I really am a praise whore: complimenting my cooking or my writing will earn you big points.)
I think cooks have a harder way in life than bakers and bakestresses (I’m trying to popularize the term bakestress, a/k/a a female baker). We’re messier, more complicated. We don’t like to follow the rules. We like to forge our own path, make up our own recipes. But we also know the joys of the unexpected. We’ve seen two seemingly incongruous ingredients merge simply because we followed a hunch.
We choose inspiration in exchange for stability. Follow the directions and it will turn out the way it always has. Follow your intuition and it could be great or a bonafide disaster. Either way, it’s a story; and stories are the stuff of life. Bakers just have cookies.
Lauren Baity is a recent graduate of the University of Colorado at Boulder where she got her degree in English. Besides doing yoga, she loves the three R’s: reading, writing, and roller derby. She plays for the Denver Roller Dolls (alias: Shadow Cat) and finds that the aggression nicely compliments the zen of yoga. Lauren’s blog chronicles the humiliating experiences of her life.