Two facts today
1) I just slaughtered (I’m estimating) a billion or so yeast. Or is it yeasts? I don’t know. All I know is that if they’re intelligent, I am very high up on their most wanted list. I’m sorry my little one celled friends, I am. I didn’t know
2) Do It Yourself Television sucks.
Sound like they’re not connected? They are. Allow me to explain.
I had this notion that cooking was easy. Yes. I admit it. Half are you are nodding with a self satisfied smile, glad that I got my comeuppance, since your knowledge and skill is the right of those that have paid the price in learning.
The other half are still woefully and willfully ignorant, thinking ‘How hard can it be?’ I used to be like you. Today, I agree with the people above. You’ll deserve your smack when it comes too.
How hard can it be? Indeed?
I attempted to make pull-a-part cinnamon rolls today. I say attempted but that’s an understatement. I turned it into an all weekend affair. I made seven batches of dough. SEVEN. I kept trying and trying and yet I could not make it rise. They sat there, a row of unresponsive lumps of sticky mush. One rose, partially, before falling victim to peer pressure and withering in place. It was about big enough to make a cinnamon wafer. Snack anyone?
Apparently I have a lot to learn.
Now, about those do it yourself shows.
I watch cooking shows. I have watched Chef Gordon Ramsay whip up something scrumptious in thirty minutes. I’ve watch Paula Dean sweeping through the kitchen effortlessly creating some four course meal. I’ve seen Martha whip up a batch of cinnamon rolls without even using her left hand, and still having fifteen minutes to talk about her new line of patio furniture. They’ll have you believe that you can set down the remote, strap on an apron and waltz into the kitchen and become a culinary legend. Liars.
And they’re not alone. HGTV and TLC have convinced us for years that all you need to remodel your bathroom is a little CAN DO! attitude and some basic tools and stuff you can rent at your local hardware store. I’m convinced that the single largest reason for divorce in this country is half finished remodels where they ground to a slow halt after demolition, leaving the wife and kids to huddle in the unheated husk of a home and wading through snow drifts to use a porta-potty because of a small summer ‘project’. You start out with mounds of enthusiasm. A new tool belt. You took a two day class at Home Depot on tile setting. And yet, here it is January and you’re standing in your still unfinished bathroom wondering why every time you flush the toilet the heat kicks on and the ceiling fans go to full reverse. It’s then that realization sets it. No, it isn’t that easy.
A host of self improvement experts have convinced us that it’s sooooooooo simple. It isn’t. I once tried to relocate a toilet. Can’t be that hard, right? Think again.
What would’ve taken thirty minutes of witty banter on television took me three weeks, four hundred trips to a hardware store, more swearing than you’ll hear in a Samuel L. Jackson movie, the downstairs bath ceiling, a hammer I’ve still not found and approximately ten thousand dollars. Okay, I found termites, and that was a lot of it, but still. By the time I was done we had a whirlpool bath, a shower you could line dance in, a new waterfall sink, new drywall, and a toilet. Right smack dab where it’d always been. Yes. The toilet beat me. I am not a plumber.
There are other examples. PowerBlock TV is another of my favorites. I am mechanically inclined. I am very intelligent. I am very quick to catch on, and I am very, very skilled in those things I can do. But that doesn’t mean that my proficiency in one area translates to everything in life. I can build aircraft, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that I can go out and rebuild a Mini Cooper with a 428 and dual turbos with nothing but a crescent wrench and a couple hours of direction on tv.
And it wasn’t because I am dumb that I failed, though I kept telling myself that as I did it. I am in the kitchen pounding and twisting the dough unmercifully whilst complaining,
“I can build freaking helicopters from parts!” I yelled “But I cannot make freaking DOUGH!!!!”
My oldest laughs uncontrollably at me.
It’s the little things. The LITTLE things. Today I was vanquished by a (herd?/flock?/gaggle?/school?) of single celled organisms. Because I didn’t know the tricks. The simplest of things tripped me up. I killed my yeast and then stood there defiantly trying to will it into compliance with a withering stare. Apparently yeast are very formidable in the face of intimidation, or more likely, they’re quite stubborn when dead.
But, as I said, the little things get you. Years of experience cannot be condensed into a thirty minute television program. Or a recipe. You’ll always fall victim to those things you don’t know, like needing a special saw to cut tile, and not being able to rent it, like needing special tools to work on cast iron plumbing, and like how to treat yeast in order to make it rise. The little thing today was so small that thousands can fit on a single human hair. I either killed them with cold water, with the salt, or something else. All I know is that it was a slaughter that made Genghis Khan grin with envy in his grave.
I won’t make that mistake again. I learned. And I will try again.
Provided the yeast don’t seek retribution and kill me in my sleep. Sorry guys, I am.