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Baking with Hilary
When Hilary and I bake together, drama inevitably follows.
Our baking sessions normally begin when I walk into the kitchen and find Hilary peering into cupboards with her I’m-going-to-bake-something face on.
“Have you washed your hands?” I ask, knowing there is an 83% chance she hasn’t.
“Yesss!” she hisses back.
“When?” I probe, aware that for Hilary “Yes, I washed them” could mean, “Yes I washed them three hours ago.”
I have succeeded in pushing her to the boiling point.
“Ok, just checking,” wisely, I back off, remembering the words of a thousand lectures. ‘You are not Hilary’s mother!’
She has begun unloading ingredients from the cupboards, flour, sugar, salt.
“So, what are you making?” I ask, although I already know the answer.
“Shortbread,” she answers, a slight defiance in her voice.
Shortbread. Dry, buttery, boring. Her favorite.
“Awww. You always make shortbread. Can’t you make something else?” Now I’m the whining little kid.
“I like shortbread,” she says matter-of-factly, grabbing the butter from the fridge.
“But it’s not interesting! Please can we make chocolate chip cookies or snickerdoodles or something?” I plead.
When we finally decide what to bake, a process which normally involves a lot of sighing and begging, we get out the big red mixing bowls and start to stir up the dough.
“No, no, no! Add the butter like this!” Hilary chides. She is a baking perfectionist and expert chef in training, having watched cooking shows religiously, enjoying the meatloaf episode just as much as the dessert special.
“Here, let me do it,” she sighs, when watching my bumbling becomes too painful for her.
It’s funny; a few years ago I was Miss Perfectionist, following recipes as if my life depended on it. If it said beat the wet and dry together with an electric mixer, woe to the person who attempted to use a spoon. Now, however, the roles were reversed, I having been somewhat liberated by a best friend who thought recipes were non-essentials and the stress of too much homework, which forced me to tone down my perfectionist tendencies to allow enough time for sleep.
15 minutes later the cookies are in the oven and starting to smell done.
“Hilary, do these look ready to you?” I yell to the living room where she is immersed in a cookbook she has mistaken for a novel.
I have long since given up attempting to be the best at everything just because I’m the oldest, happily letting Hilary take the reins in the kitchen and the craft closet. She knows more about scones and storing herbs and Sculpey clay than I ever will.
After a discussion over the best way to remove the cookies from the tray to the cooling rack and a scramble to clean up (initiated by me), we sit at the kitchen table and bite into a warm cookie, molten chocolate mingling with cinnamon and brown sugar in our mouths. Exchanging enraptured glances, we search for poetry to express our joy. In this moment, our mouths full of cookies, we are in perfect agreement and suddenly I love Hilary so much it hurts.