Much to the over-fed dismay of those around me, I really do the work attached to these essays. The photos are there to get you to the final appearance but they are also proof it happened. I could give you pictures of today's disappointing spin around the kitchen, but you will not thank me. Okay, just one picture. Just because we're pals. This is the disastrous Sweet Potato Bread recipe from Blue Willow Inn's Bible of Southern Cooking.
I bake everyday and I know better than to do what that recipe told me to do. I looked at the ingredient list and my heart sank: My heart wanted to believe for the Blue Willow folks that it was correct. But my head, which holds so many formulaic quick bread combinations, was leery at first and riotous half-way though the process. If my brain could whine it would have said something like, "You know very weeeeeeell this cannot produce a quick bread or a cake. You knoooooow this is going to be a doorstop. Whhhhhhhhy are you waaaasting my time?" But I persisted because I am a naive true-believer. I got what my head promised: An divinely fragrant orange-tinted doorstop. For those of you that own this book, pencil this in: baking powder, baking soda, salt.
Oh, it was a heartbreaker.
And then, before I could stop myself, another. I began with the intention of making angel biscuits and diverted after becoming distracted with the biscuit recipe on the back of the While Lily flour bag which claimed, incorrectly, you could make biscuits of all butter, instead of using at least some shortening. Also not true. But, I was apparently an unstoppable dolt by then so why not move to the biscuit recipe on the back of a paper bag instead of one I know has been tested forth and back by a horde of CIA chefs?
Why not? Because I know very well that butter does not make a good, even passable, biscuit. This game is about the Crisco. It's like playing hockey with a beautiful tennis racquet. You look like an idiot, lose a game you never should have started, and waste a perfectly good racquet just because the White Lily bag said so.
There was one upside to my shameless repetitve folly. There was the coconut cake which I am still licking from my fingers as I write to you so I have to be off. See you tomorrow and I will tell you how I will never question Mark Bittman again (I really mean it this time).