Eva Bradley: Baking attempt a life lesson

By Eva Bradley

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Baking muffins may not have been an appropriate rainy day activity. Photo / Thinkstock
Baking muffins may not have been an appropriate rainy day activity. Photo / Thinkstock

It's well established that weather has a major impact on mood. Which is why everyone should just leave me the *@!* alone right now, OK?

Outside it is the sort of day that gives winter a bad name.

Not content with deploying the cold, Mother Nature sent all her least-loved offspring outside to play today.

The wind, rain and heavy, low-slung clouds are all fighting to be top dog. Which is why by 2 o'clock I still hadn't made it out the front door.

Most of the time I'm not a big fan of shifts in technology that have made working from home so easy.

Work is work and it's best left there at the end of the day, as far as I'm concerned. But today, as I sit beside a roaring gas fire with an electric massage pad behind my back, my feet on a chair and my laptop on my knee, I am definitely feeling the love for cloud-based software and high-speed internet.

The only problem is the windows. Perfect for looking out of on a fine day and needed for letting light in, they have the singular design fault of making it impossible to ignore the sort of day it is outside.

So, despite my best efforts to set up a cozy, positive workspace, I found myself irritable and way too close to the fridge.

Eventually I decided that, instead of fighting the natural urges generated by the weather, I would indulge them.

As unlikely as it may seem to those who know me, I decided to bake muffins. It just seemed the right thing to do on a winter's day. Aside from a brief period when I was 10 and realised I could make excellent money baking muffins to sell around the commercial district during the holidays, I don't bake. I simply don't see the point when I can buy something that looks better, tastes better and costs the same (especially by the time I've thrown out the first mixture because I speed-read the recipe and thought it said a tablespoon of baking soda instead of a teaspoon). I was convinced my rare foray into deep domesticity would throw up all sorts of valuable insights to share in today's epistle.

Plus it would assuage the guilt I share with most working mothers that I don't spend my days creating wholesome, homemade food for the kids. But, when you're not a natural baker, there is no such thing as "whipping up" some muffins. First I had to completely reorganise the baking supplies in the pantry, housed on the unreachable top shelf for a reason and harbouring so many half-measures of everything that it may as well have had nothing.

After all of that I was one egg short.

My "she'll be right" approach to baking has never stood me in good stead in the past, so I committed to braving the cold in pursuit of eggs - a wet expedition that didn't help alleviate my foul mood.

Returning home with more than $100 of groceries I didn't know I needed until I got to the supermarket, I found that, despite the winter freeze outside, the super-heated interior temperatures had melted the frozen raspberries intended for the muffins. Soldiering on, I folded them into the mixture, which soon resembled the clean-up efforts from a particularly violent murder scene.

Eventually I got the muffins into the oven but, sadly, that's where the story ended because that was the last time I thought about them until I smelt them burning.

The entire exercise had simply proven what I already knew; I am not a baker, and any attempts to be one undermine the ultimate objective of being a better provider to my family.

Next time I feel the urge to get creative in the kitchen on a stormy day, I'm going to stick to Plan A, force myself to go to work, shut the blinds on the weather and do what I do well so I can pay someone else to do what I suck at.

- Eva Bradley is a columnist and photographer.

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