March 16, 2011

Disasters and a Difference

I’m not a baker.

This woman is. It is even in the title of her blog.

But I? No, I’m not a baker.

I’m an experimenter, an adventurer, a thrower-inner. I am an expert low sodium cook.

And when it comes to the exact science of baking, I am short-cuts, I am messy, and I am always surprised that my cookies turn out looking like this.

Let’s just say Monday was a good day to not go sky diving. Because in my little kitchen, it seemed like one disaster was followed quickly by another.

I celebrated like a fool when my bag of white sugar nearly missed spilling on my clean floor (expertly mopped by my generous husband the day before), only to then try and throw in said sugar to the mixing bowl as it was mixing. Which if you are like me, doesn’t seem like it would be a problem at all. But if you are like my friend, the baker, you would know this meant I spent the rest of my afternoon vacuuming and mopping little white sugar crystals from my floor.

So there was that.

And then you get to round two, where the egg whites for my macaroons wouldn’t turn white or get thick. Some recipes said to beat them until they peaked, others said to make them foamy. I just added more sugar. And coconut. Which I had obviously already burned when toasting.

Even with all this against me, I still decided to bake them, thinking, maybe a magic oven fairy would come and save the day. Because isn’t that really how baking works? But alas, flat, super sugary, teeth-pulling macaroons were what awaited me ten minutes later.

So yes, Monday was full of disasters.

But while I was writing this post in my head – cause that is often what I do during the day in my home, which I think is still slightly more sane than talking to myself, slightly – I couldn’t help but think that even with all the scrubbing and cookie losses, this was no disaster at all. Hardly. Not even close.

Haiti was a disaster. New Zealand was a disaster. Japan is a disaster.

Natural, yes, but disasters all the same.

I was pretty mentally paralyzed on Friday and am still having a hard time reading and digesting the news. Even as a Californian who experienced the ’89 quake, the situation in Japan feels so massive, so unfamiliar, so impossible to remedy.

But after my mini food-related disasters on Monday, I’m ready to get out of my mental cloud and put on my apron and help. And I’m going to do that by baking.

I know. Get the dustbuster ready. But I figure that it makes sense to confront an international disaster by confronting some of my own.

And here’s the best part. You all can help too.

(You’re welcome.)

If you are a Bay Area Local, check out Samin Nosrat’s Bake sale for Japan. There are going to be bake sales happening in multiple Bay Area locations on April 2nd, including Marin, the Penninsula, and even Napa. I’ll be at the San Francisco one at Bi-Rite Market selling sweet and savory low sodium treats, so I hope to see you there selling some of your own. She needs volunteers too.

As for non-Bay Area locals, you can still get involved. The Tomato Tart is holding a bake sale online and I’ve also heard of some other folks, who have been so inspired, that they started their own bake sale, like this one in Toronto. So if you are interested in a local event, either get googling or get organizing!

And if you are more into eating for a cause than actually baking, then check out these local SF restos that are offering proceeds to help Japan relief efforts – a wonderful round-up courtesy of my good friend Marcia Gagliardi, The Tablehopper.

So I guess the lesson is that disasters happen. And all you can do is be prepared, be proactive, and get cooking.

Bake on…and many thoughts and wishes to all of those living and with loved ones in Japan.

Natty March 16, 2011 at 12:30 pm

You are an inspiration as usual. I’m going to find a bake sale in NYC!

waiwa March 16, 2011 at 2:31 pm

Oh SG. We still love you even if you’re not a baker. Hopefully we can all get our bake on to help support the folks en Japon

Lily B March 18, 2011 at 1:34 pm

Ditto to Natty’s comment. Thanks for writing about what’s on all of our minds and sharing ways to help. I’d still eat those cookies though – I’ll bet they didn’t taste like a disaster!

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