Lifelong Hobbies by Robin Trimingham
From the time I was three, I desperately wanted a deluxe play kitchen complete with cupboards, sink, fridge, stove and pots and pans. In an effort to appease me, my parents dutifully provided a miniature set of blue and white Corning cookware (complete with detachable black handles) and a bevy of plastic fruits and vegetables.
While I liked the fruit immensely, the cookware just made me yearn for my child-sized dream kitchen even more. Not able to foot the bill for this luxury item, my parents presented me with the Kenner easy-bake oven complete with a 100-watt light bulb which actually generated enough heat to bake a mini cake. The very notion of mixing cake in the bathroom and cooking it up in my bedroom simply filled me with glee.
Much to my father's horror, the set came with a box of 50 mini cake mixes in all sorts of tantalizingly artificial flavors. These just-add-water wonders, cooked up into rock hard little hockey puck sized cakes which I then decorated with instant icing (also mixed from a pouch of dry power and water) and attempted to serve him for dessert on Sunday nights.
I think he finally made my mother throw out the light bulb, but that did not dissuade me in the least. My foray into childhood baking had lasted long enough to make me an aspiring chef for life and has given me a quirky fondness for kitchen gadgets. Along the way, a Cuisinart, an espresso maker, a waffle maker, three crock pots and a yogurt maker have followed me home and taken up residence in my kitchen cupboards.
I have drawn the line at making salmon in the dishwasher, although there are many recipes out there that swear you can do this, and I never succeeded in assembling the electric carving knife that someone gave me so I call my fascination with gadgets an amusement rather than an obsession.
These days I am much more of a minimalist. The Cuisinart which too much more time to wash up than it did to chop things, and the yogurt maker which produced such a large quantity of semi-solid goo that you would need a family of six to consume it all before it expired have found new friends to play with and moved away.
Even the waffle maker is gathering dust now that I hardly eat gluten, but crock pots and I are “bffs” since I discovered that there is practically nothing that you can’t make in a crock pot, and I now use mine to make both jam and yogurt, and the world’s best apple crisp.
My latest obsession (sorry fascination) is with solar cooking and I have been researching ways to make a solar oven out of metallic car windshield sun shades. If this idea works – I may give up cooking in my kitchen altogether!
I have even found a recipe for making sunlight brownies this way, but my dad will be relieved to know that, so far, I haven’t found one for cake.
By Robin Trimingham