2005-11-23 - 2:04 p.m.

So many little disasters lately.

Most of them I won't go into because, well, I just don't fell like it, but this one was a new one for me.

My mom is a good cook. I think she's a great cook but then I think we always believe the way we first had something is how it should be so that usually makes our mom seem like the best at it.

She is an excellent baker. It runs in our family, as my grandmother was a candymaker and baker professionally.

I have to believe it skipped a generation. I mean, I try, and sometimes I do some good stuff, but it doesn't come naturally and while I really really want to love doing it because it connects me to my family heritage in a very tangible way, the secret truth is that I hate it.

Things that would take my mother 20 minutes to make at the outside take me an entire day, or evening.

Simple things like moving beaters in a bowl, I do it wrong, I end up, almost without exception covering whatever I'm wearing and the better part of the kitchen in batter.

I'm a disaster.

I still try. In fact I don't even think I admitted to myself how much I hate doing it until just this moment.

At any rate, with Thanksgiving on the horizon my mom is geering up. Every Thanksgiving she cooks as though 400 starving people are going to show up at our door with machete's and machine guns and demand cookies and cakes and pies and bars.

In reality it is usually my Aunt who eats like a half dead bird, my mother and myself. In recent years Wendiloo has joined us after eating at at least one of her family/friends homes and while she will pick at some of what we have she has, as I've mentioned, already eaten.

Some of this stuff will be frozen away for Christmas, but what isn't will most likely sit on the table until then, so when the frozen stuff is thawed nobody wants to look at it.

I don't discourage the baking frenzy though, because I know she loves it. It reminds her of days gone by when the family was larger and she was younger and more able. It makes her feel needed and appreciated and proud and I love that.

I love the way the house smells when she's cooking and I love seeing the table covered in goodies.

Yesterday though I came home and found her near tears.

My mom doesn't cry. I mean, maybe twice in my life I've seen her cry and I'm not even sure that's true.

I could smell it before I saw it.

An entire table worth of burned cookies and cake.

She began relaying the difficulties of the day to me before I got my coat off.

First she tried a mix we found in a bag from a company called Millcreek Harvest. We almost always do everything from scratch but as she gets older certain corners have occasionally been cut in deference to her stamina and vision.

The mix was a Cinnamon Crumble Cake. I don't believe she's ever made a crumble cake of any kind in her life, but I didn't ask, it would have felt accusatory.

The crumble was charcoal. The cake wasn't so bad, but together they were a sad state of affairs.

She had next attemtped peanut butter choclate bars from a bag mix from the same company. These too burned but were salvageble.

Then she got fed up and decided to make her all time favorite thumb print cookies . A recipe my grandmother perfected and my mother has made for years on end.

Black as little stones.

She was heart broken.

Everything she touched she dropped. Everything she cooked she burned.

It was so hard to come home and see this. I don't care at all about the damn cookies and cakes and bars, but her spirit seemed so wilted.

I grabbed the cake mix and vowed to try another, see if we could figure out what happend, and also said I'd try to make a giant gingerbread man with a mold she bought last weekend.

I started with the crumble cake, the first of her disasters. I followed the directions to the letter as did she and put it in the oven.

Bake time according to the mix is 40-45 minutes.

At 5 minutes it smelled like heaven had taken up residence in our oven.

At 15 minutes when I checked it the edges were black and hard and the bottom was charcoal.

Dear mom was vindicated. A short time later I dropped a bowl onto a glass and managed to do the one thing she hadn't all day...break something.

I did make my cookie and while he fought me coming out of the pan he's in decent shape. Not as good as he would have been if someone with innate talent had made him, but for me, he's good.

I also didn't get a drop of food on me or the kitchen.

Mom and I cut the burnt edges off the crumble cake and it's the tastiest thing.

When we cleaned up the kitchen she brightly told me she was going to make good thumbprint cookies today and an apple pie as well. I hope the heck they come out perfect.

As for me, when I dragged myself in the house last night I felt sick and over tired. I wanted to watch amazing race, finish my book and fall asleep drooling next to the dog, but after baking and laughing at our miserable luck with my mom I was invigorated and found myself looking forward to going home and baking a little more tonight.

After America's Next Top Model naturally. Baby steps people. Baby Steps.

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