Sunday, May 31, 2009

Changing Expectations (Or Better Late than Never)

The May Daring Bakers’ challenge was hosted by Linda of make life sweeter! and Courtney of Coco Cooks. They chose Apple Strudel from the recipe book Kaffeehaus: Exquisite Desserts from the Classic Caf├ęs of Vienna, Budapest and Prague by Rick Rodgers.

Since the Munchkin arrived, I've had to come to grips with the fact that I just can't do it all.  I've tried, and only ended up driving myself crazy.  There are only so many hours in the day, and so much that needs to be done, that somethings just fall to the bottom.  Unfortunately, my fun, more-than-just-throwing-dinner-together cooking and baking have had to get tossed aside.  Every month, I check the Daring Bakers forum, and get excited about that month's challenge.  And then the next thing I know, the posting date is almost here and I haven't had a chance to give it a second thought.  And every month, I think that it would probably be easier if I just gave up the DBs.  It would be one less thing staring at my from my To-Do list.  But...I enjoy it.  And as a mom, I have so little time for things that I enjoy, things I do just for me.  So, even though it is always difficult to find time to get the challenge done, I don't want to give it up, because I need that outlet.  I need the chance to do something that I enjoy just because I enjoy it.  But...I've had the change my expectations.  I don't have the time and energy I did to really come up with something fabulous and creative.  I don't have the time to try things multiple times if it doesn't work out the first time.  It's hard enough to find the time to do it once.  So...my success rate with these challenges has dropped significantly.  Today, after finishing the challenge late and having it not turn out at all, a strange thing happened: I didn't mind.  I wasn't upset, I didn't feal like a failure, and didn't wonder why in the worled I even bothered to try it anyway.  I was happy.  I felt like a success, because I did it!  Right now, just getting it done is a huge accomplishment.  And I'm proud of myself for it.  And I realized, I'm going to stick with the Daring Bakers.  I'll find some way to get these challenges done, and I'll laugh at the things that don't work, and be pleasantly surprised when the do.  Because it's not about perfection, it's about learning and having fun.  And I can do that, even if things don't turn out just right (especially if they're still yummy anyway).

This month's recipe was an apple strudel.  I enjoyed working on it, but I had a hard time with the dough.  I just wasn't able to stretch it thin enough.  In retrospect, I think it was because the dough was too dry (despite the warning not to let the dough get dry).  But when I added in the liquids to the dough, it seemed way too wet...so wet that it didn't seem like there was any way it would be able to be kneaded and rolled into anything.  So I added a little more flour.  And I continued to fiddle with the flour/water ratio to try to get it right.  Though...having never made strudel before I didn't know what right was.  But I went for it.  I rolled out the dough pretty well, but it just wasn't elastic enough to stretch as then as it needed to be.  But I put the filling in and rolled it up and baked anyway.  Although the result was tasty, I think the end result had a pastry that was too thick to realistically be called a strudel.  Despite that...in the 3 hours it's been out of the oven, Psycling and I have managed to polish off about half of it, so I guess it's not that bad.  ;-)

I definitely want to try this again.  Sometime when I'm not having to try to fit it in over a nap time, or shuffle feeding schedules to get it done.  But, for now, I'm happy that I did it.  I'll have a life time to cook, bake, experiment in the kitchen, and work on perfecting recipes.  But the Munchkin is growing so fast, checking off milestones right and left, I only have a short time to enjoy him at this stage before he moves on to the next one.  So I'm relishing that.  The kitchen will always be there.

Oh, and sorry for the whole pictureless post thing.  I guess that's part of my new slacker outlook on baking.  How 'bout a picture of the Munchkin instead?