Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Baker's Secret Ingredient Comes From A Box

Dear Tazi:

I feel like such a fraud. I grew up in a world of 4-H club, Grange, and Future Farmers. Put me in a barnyard, and I can win blue ribbons with my eyes closed and one hand tied behind me back; but put me in a kitchen and I am as helpless as a newborn baby.

My Mom was always an amazing baker, and her pies would win first prize in every contest she entered. People would rave about her baking, and she was frequently approached by local restaurants asking her to bake for their dessert menus. After Mom passed away a few years ago, I inherited her recipes. As a tribute to her, I decided it was time that I learned to bake, too. I figured that with Mama's recipes, I would finally be able to make something that was worth eating. Boy, was I wrong!

Tazi, my pie crusts are like shoe leather and no matter what I do, my cakes always fall flat. Even I won't eat my own peach preserves, they are so runny; and my pear tart is frightening. A part of me feels like I am letting Mama down, so I have tried even harder to learn how to bake; but it seems like the harder I try to worse I fail. I finally gave up, and in a moment of desperation (I had company coming over, and they were looking forward to Mama's cherry cobbler) I bought a Pillsbury pie crust and some jarred cherry preserves in the next town over (which is about 30 miles away) and threw together the best darn cobbler I have ever tasted. It was apparent that my guests thought so, too, because they all told me how amazing my cobbler was - even better than my Mom's, God rest her soul!

Word of how delicious my cherry cobbler was spread quickly - mostly because people were shocked that I could bake anything that would turn out edible - and now people are encouraging me to enter my cobbler in an upcoming bake-off. Tazi, I just can't...the bake-off requires homemade recipes, and my ingredients are all store-bought! If I enter the bake-off, I will feel like a complete fraud; but what excuse can I give to avoid entering? All I ever wanted to do was make Mama proud. Now, I feel like she must be rolling in her grave.

Pillsbury Dough Girl

Dear Pillsbury Dough Girl:

Although I cannot vouch for the jarred cherry preserves you purchased, I have to say that Pillsbury makes one amazing pie crust! If the preserves you purchased were just as good, that cherry cobbler you made had to be out of this world! I don't even LIKE people food, but I always make an exception for chicken pot-pie made with Pillsbury crust. I'm not helping your guilt any, am I? Sorry...

Not everyone has your mother's talents in the kitchen, just as not everyone has your talents in the barnyard. It is okay to not be good at everything; but it is not okay to misrepresent yourself in a competition. How would you feel if someone's hog won a blue ribbon for size because they hopped it up on steroids? I bet you would feel the same as the woman who slaved over her pie crust but received a red ribbon because you took first place.

If I were you, I would not - under any circumstances - enter that bake-off that folks are encouraging you to enter. If they ask you why you refuse to enter, tell them the truth: that the recipes you have are not your own; they were created by your mother and the honor of competing with them belonged to her. Then let the matter drop. Unless it is the Pillsbury Bake-Off* that you are entering, then by all means go for it - just be sure to reveal that you are using Pillsbury ingredients, a requirement of all entrants.


*The 2012 Pillsbury Bake-Off actually took place this past Tuesday.

Ask Tazi! is ghostwritten by a human with a Bachelors of Arts in Communications. Tazi-Kat is not really a talking feline.

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