Thursday, June 16, 2011

What My Dad Taught Me.

Don't get me wrong, over the last twenty-four years, my mom has taught me a lot of important things. How to shave my legs. How to make coffee and homemade hot chocolate. How to do laundry. That "set butter out to soften" really means "microwave for eight seconds" and that sometimes it's okay to eat peanut butter off a spoon or use a boxed cake mix. 

We're talking important life skills here, people. 

But the down and dirty stuff? That's my dad's area. Riding a bike. Driving a car. Checking my oil. Geometry. Fixing things. What to do if there's an earthquake. Taxes. Tipping. How to make a rum & Coke.
And baking!

So, in honor of Father's Day, and because I'm procrastinating making baked Alaska, since I have no idea what baked Alaska is but it's what he's asked for for Sunday, here's a list of the some of the baking things I've learned over the years from my dad.

1. To clean up as I go.

Real talk. Because by the time I've loaded a three-layer cake into the oven, the last thing I want to do is wash a bunch of dishes.

2. How to make perfectly even cake layers that never stick to the cake pans.

Shortening & flour!

3. How to make frosting and properly frost cakes.
... and more importantly, how to put frosting on cinnamon-sugar graham crackers and eat them for dinner.

4. How to "properly" roll out dough.
These are Dad Hands. They say, I'm wise, listen to me, I know what I'm doing. Stop taking your dumb pictures and watch what I'm doing. 
Fine. Keep taking pictures. Your biscuits will never be as good as mine anyways.

My dad is the only person I know who measures out the thickness of his dough with an actual ruler, right down to the centimeter. He's that precise.

But maybe I'm just impatient jealous that all his cookies and biscuits come out perfectly level.
Can you guess who made the lopsided English muffins? Yeah. My sugar cookies and biscuits pretty much look the same too. I'm more of a seat-of-my-pants dough-roller.

5. How to make perfectly fluffy scrambled eggs.

1 tablespoon of water for every egg and whiskwhiskwhisk.

6. Don't be afraid to try new things or to deviate from a recipe. That's how new recipes are created!
7. And on that note: to learn from my mistakes.

This is usually followed with, "Did you read the entire recipe?", "Did you grease the pans with shortening & flour... or with Pam?", or "Well, what have we learned this time?"

And a very annoying I-told-you-so look.

8. What the following baking terms mean: knead. scald. stiff peaks. soft peaks. cut in. fold in. double-boiler. pastry cutter. trifle. room temperature. patience.

9. Do what makes you happy, no matter what anyone says.

It doesn't matter if we actually need cupcakes or cookies. Baking makes me happy. So I bake!

10. Remember salt river bars?
The recipe actually came from my dad.

So did the peanut butter blossoms.
Aaaaand the raspberry almond shortbread thumbprints, peanut butter cup treats, chocolate chip peanut meltaways, lemon raspberry trifles, southern cornbread, and perfect buttermilk biscuits that literally melt in your mouth.
And just for kicks... three things he's tried to teach me that just aren't happening:

1. English shortbread.

I'm sorry. I try. I really do. I just can't make the crumbly dough stay together. Are we still family?

2. Beer-can chicken.

I can't even watch. It makes me giggle.

3. Patience in the kitchen.

... no comment.
Happy Father's Day to the greatest dad in the world! Thank you for teaching me all that you know and taste-testing my cookies, frosting my cakes, running to the store when I run out of sugar, and putting up with the "stupid Santa apron" you swear you're not going to wear every Christmas, but always do. 

You're the best dad in the world & I love you!