The first thing I wanted to do when I got home from work this afternoon was to go about making a batch of cookies. Don't ask me why. I mean I spent all morning baking for other people, strangers, little kids who come especially to the restaurant to eat my Custard Creams, older professionals who like my scones with their coffee and the business page of the newspaper, women in clusters who crave the Pear and Almond Cake and others who pass in and out like ghosts in search of sugar.
I suppose the most meaningful event of the past year is that I have found baking to be my love. I always hated it. I dreaded Pastry class in Culinary School. I could never get it right. Everything was so measured and I was not a measured individual. I was known and famous for my erratic unmeasured lifestyle. I never counted anything. Flew to Paris at the drop of a hat, no matter the bank balance. Drank too much wine and painted the house in colours that defied common sense. In truth I could not bear the careful balance of ingredients in life or in baking.
But something happened over this past time. Measures became important. Grams had to be exact. Flour carefully meted out. Baking soda or powder. Butter. Oil. Seeds. Coconut. Fruit. Flax. Raisins. Zest. Love that word. Zest. Teaspoons and tablespoons and fluid ounces and ounces and pounds and more grams and suddenly I was having a love affair with Treacle and Honey and homemade Jams. Suddenly measures meant everything. I reluctantly came to realise that without measures we are doomed.
Baking has stitched my soul, my essence together. All of a sudden I am a whole. A cake etched into a pan lined with parchment, I rise to the occasion. I am aware of my environment. The tin keeps me within limits. If I did not I would splay and become like a piece of seaweed or an old egg broken into a pan to fry. Age cannot be disguised in an egg. The albumen spreads out like a map of some prehistoric land without boundaries. A guess as to where the ocean lies - a rough sketch of mountain, shading for forestry.
Baking has defined me. It has finally put some measure into my system. I can still stretch the measure when I want but the gift comes on the cooling tray, my mothers as a matter of fact that holds the baked cookies when my son comes in from school. I am there. How was your day, I ask. Great, he says and reaches for the cookies. Cold milk, he says. Cold milk would go great with these. I nod. Bubbled milk, frothy and cold gives him a premature moustache and I sit down to watch as my measured self counts this moment without being able to actually measure it or possibly write it down.