There are some days when itâ€™s best that I just stay out of the kitchen. Today was one of those. Cooking and baking are like hobbies to me that I get to do every day. Sometimes it’s a problem, though, that my family depends on edible results for their sustenance. When my brain is in malfunction mode, my inability to carry a single thought from the recipe book to the the mixing bowl can destroy my otherwise good cooking.
When we hear about A.D.D. we hear how it affects children in school, especially boys. What we rarely hear is how it affects mothers like me.
Even on days when my thoughts are clear and orderly I have to double or triple check the ingredients before I commit to the irreversibleâ€¦
1) To see what the next ingredient is.
2) To see what the amount of the ingredient is, because I forgot to pay attention the first time I looked.
3) To see if that amount was supposed to be in teaspoons or tablespoons. Or to make sure I didnâ€™t jumble two ingredients at the second look, because I am good at mixing things up. And not just in a bowl.
Todayâ€™s Baking Catastrophe
Today I was baking ginger muffins. Unfortunately, I cooked the lemon zest into the sugar, instead of the ginger Izzy minced for me. No worries. I had another lemon and could grate more zest for when it was supposed to go in, so I trashed the unhappy concoction and started over with ginger and sugar. Too bad I forgot to perform Recipe Triple Check Steps #2 and #3 because I failed to actually measure out the portion of ginger I needed. Izzy had minced three different mealâ€™s worth in the food processor and in my happy state I just put it all into the pan with the new, un-lemonized sugar. Ginger falls into the Less Is More category of life’s little luxuries.
My spirits were high, though. An area in which I excel is that I can always tell when Iâ€™ve done something wrong within minutes. My ineptitude rarely surprises at the moment of no-return when we actually sit down to eat my mistakes. So when I realized I had way too much ginger in my saucepan, I fished out what I actually needed from the melting sugar, threw the rest of the ginger away (oops, there goes two of the dinners on our menu for the week), and decided that the bit of sugar that was already mixed into my portion wouldnâ€™t make a huge difference to the recipe. Through much experience, Iâ€™ve gotten good at figuring out when it’s okay to work with what I’ve got and when I should just start all over.
I continued with my baking, but by now I knew to send my two adorable helpers out of the kitchen. And they understood. They already know that seemingly insignificant distractionsâ€” like my handing a cup of flour to one of them â€” can really throw me off.
When My Usual Coping Strategies Fail Me
So here I was, alone in my kitchen with only my own wandering mind to distract me from my purpose, and I thought I was in the clear. But A.D.D. â€” at least my version of it â€” loves to twist the most basic information that I happen to be using at a given moment. Itâ€™s like April Foolâ€™s Day every day of my life, but I’m the joker and the jokee.
Today the basic information that became my brainâ€™s target was the amount of butter (or in my case, Earth Balance) in a stick. How long have I been baking with butter or butter substitutes? Letâ€™s round to twenty years.
So, fast-forward to the moment of mixing where Iâ€™m looking at this crazy butter concoction, waiting for my beater to beat it into a recognizable form, and it just does not look normal. It was yellow puffs of clouds separated by narrow streams of brown sugar and ginger. One and a half hours after entering the kitchen to make muffins, I remembered (too late) that a stick of butter equals a half cup. Not a quarter cup.
I was out of ginger. I was out of lemon. I was out of the desire to do any more baking. Izzy took over the kitchen and we sipped smoothies instead of butter-muffins.
Some days are just worse than others. So why did I think my brain lapses would go away by dinner-time of the same day when I began the chili and cornbread for tonightâ€™s dinner?