If you asked me to bake a cake, I’d need a Betty Crocker box mix and a bowl. My neighbor, Debbie, bakes with something called The Cake Bible.
For Debbie, it’s not about feeding a family but rather a food experience. The creations that come out of her kitchen are almost holy, and why wouldn’t they be with cooking manuals that sound as if they’ve been sanctioned by deity?
“Come over for coffee while I make a pie,” she said to me on the phone. I sat at her dining room table sipping a latte while she cut nine pumpkins in half and put them in the oven. Forty minutes later there were pumpkins cooling on every available surface in the kitchen. Debbie was whirring pumpkin into orange mash in the Cuisine Art and her copy of The Pie and Pastry Bible was being studied like the Dead Sea Scrolls.
“Did you know that you can buy a can of Libby’s pumpkin at the grocery store for a dollar twenty nine?” I asked.
“Oy!” Debbie shook her head. She isn’t Jewish but she can “Oy” with the best of them.
“You can even pick up a ready made pie in the frozen section.” I was goading her but I couldn’t help myself.
Debbie stopped whirring and held up her index finger. She blinked slowly and waggled her finger side to side.
“You need to stop,” she said.
I snickered and took another sip of my latte.
Debbie should be on television. Visualize “My Big Fat [Assyrian] Wedding” meets Food Network. Forget Rachel Ray’s cutesy ‘EVOO’ (extra virgin olive oil). There’s a new gal in town and the word of the day is “Oy vey!”
Even though Debbie cooks with ‘sacred’ recipes, there are the occasional miscalculations. I remember a zucchini marathon in her kitchen that ended up with eight loaves of bread, three dozen muffins, a boat load of cookies and a gallon-sized Ziploc bag of grated zucchini for yours truly.
“Uh, why don’t you freeze this grated zucchini for later?” I asked. I envisioned my family turning their noses up at zucchini patties every night for a month.
“I don’t have room.” She pulled The Dessert Bible off the shelf and unwrapped a pound of butter.
“How could you be out of room? Your deep freeze is bigger than your mini van!”
“Jim bagged a deer last season. And, of course, there’s all that pumpkin puree.” Debbie dumped a bag of powdered sugar over the butter and set the Kitchen Aid to ‘whisk.’
“By any chance is that frosting for the zucchini bread?” I asked.
“They sell that in the store too. Sometimes it’s on sale for ninety nine cents and has a picture of a cute little doughboy on it.” I poked the bag of zucchini.
“Wendy Bauder, TELL me you’re kidding!”
I raised my eyebrows and looked at her. Debbie sighed and measured out three teaspoons of vanilla.
“So what are you making for dinner tonight?” she asked.
“I’m not sure yet. I’ll have to consult my fast food bible,” I grinned.