I am good at a reasonable number of things, and competent at a few more. But I must confess I have never had much skill or luck when it comes to the so-called “feminine” arts.
I’ve never had a great yen to be a mother. I do not squeal and come running anytime a baby is within radar range. I never wanted to know what it was like to nurse. Wiping butts and noses was never my favorite thing, and my refrigerator has never particularly felt the lack of childish art.
I have never, ever been able to sew. I’ve tried. Over and over again I’ve tried, but everything I make looks like a drunken monkey put it together. A blind drunken monkey with only a single working hand.
I can’t garden. Everything I attempt to grow dies, very often before its tender fronds ever experience sunlight. Were I put in charge of growing my own food, Scott and I would starve soon after eating all the dogs, though they really are more likely to eat us first, as they are quicker than either of us, and unencumbered by any sort of of ethics when it comes to anything that could reasonably be considered food.
I don’t really cook, either. I’m a pretty good baker and creator of desserts, because it was worth my while to learn how to do that well. Like my dogs, I am highly motivated by treats; I am not motivated at all by meats and vegetables. I like and eat them, but if they’re on the table, 99% of the time it’s because Scott made them. When he is not home to feed me, I graze fridge and countertops for foods that do not require cooking and eat enough of them to constitute a full meal. It’s not unusual for me to grab a hunk of leftover roast off the plate in the fridge and eat it cold, chase it with a handful of grapes, one slice of unwrapped American cheese, and a cookie, and call it good. I think cereal is a perfectly serviceable meal or snack any time of day. When I get ambitious, it’s ramen, baybeee—breakfast, lunch, and dinner of champion college students everywhere. I can boil water like nobody’s business. Sometimes I boil it so well, the pan goes dry because I’ve forgotten I’m cooking and walk off to do something else.
So I was surprised as anyone when among the glut of catalogs that fill our mailbox daily in this holiday season, the Williams-Sonoma catalog caught my eye. As I sat down to my bowl of cereal (natch), I turned each page with growing awe and excitement.
The Williams-Sonoma catalog is filled with all kinds of ready-to-eat goodies and kitchen implements to make more. The store is like that, too, and whenever I’m in there (buying garlic olive oil bread dipping sauce for the French bread I buy already made at Safeway), I want one of everything, despite the fact that I don’t cook. But god, do I want to when I’m there. Look at this pan! And look at this kitchen tool I have no idea what it’s for! Do we need one? It’s like kitchen porn: filled with things you would never do in real life, but titillating even so. Zesting a lime or roasting your own garlic? Preposterous! I neither slice nor dice. But I pored over the pages nonetheless, imagining the brilliant Martha Stewartesque hors d’oeuvres I’d offer the guests I never invite to my home, and the gorgeous brunches I’d put on at 2 o’clock in the afternoon, because I don’t get out of bed before 11 on a Sunday.
It was all over, though, when I saw the picture of the Cinnamon-Bun Filled Pancakes. Tell me Williams, how do I create these wonders? Praytell, Sonoma, which of your wares must I purchase to make the dream of Cinnamon-Bun Filled Pancakes a warm, mouth-watering reality? My Visa card is at the ready, if only you will guide me!
It’s insidious, really, how a single catalog can make a person like me believe that she could be a chef if only she were possessed of the wares therein. They’re good; too good.
Naturally, there’s a special pan you need to make them just like the picture. Into the shopping cart it went. Oh, and look, there’s a special, ready-made ebelskiver mix. “Ebelskiver” is apparently the name for these little Danish pancakes, and it is a ridiculously fun word to say. Try it a few times. I’ll wait.
When I informed Scott that I wished to purchase this specialty pan, he wondered aloud where exactly we were going to put it, as we don’t have enough cabinet space as it is. He also scoffed at my weekend breakfast pretensions, since I generally get up half an hour before it’s time to start thinking about lunch.
But I would not be dissuaded. Filled miniature pancakes, man! What part of that does not scream “WIN” to you???
I’m trying to be better about the impulse purchases, so I left the catalog on the table overnight, and the next day, when I was more clear-headed, I found that several other items of interest had lost their shine in the cold, logical light of morning. But I still couldn’t get over the Cinnamon-Bun Filled pancakes, and I ordered the pan and the mix. I will have ebelskiver—oh yes! And if you’re ever passing through, drop in, and I’ll make some ebelskiver for you, too.