Since I never hung around the kitchen much as a kid and I never really listened to my mom’s homemaking advice or helped too much when it came to learning about cooking, everyone in the family figured I would have to grow up and have my own chef or something. Cooking and baking when I can be out singing with the birds in the trees or writing poetry? My culinary skills kind of began and ended with delectable mud pies and the occasional burned popcorn I’d make for our street carnival. Yes, I organized the street carnival and recruited everyone to sing, dance or tell jokes. My little brother did a great John Wayne impersonation. If they didn’t want to do those things, they could come to the petting zoo and see the spotted dog or the black-nosed rabbit. After that, they could play the games we set up like throwing basketballs into trashcans and they could drink my Kool-Aid and suffer through the popcorn. Needless to say, it was rather shocking when I turned eighteen and wanted to start baking to impress my mom.
She’d hear clanging and banging and smell trial and error situations where smoke filled the tiny kitchen, wafting out towards the rest of the house. Suddenly, she’d hear me singing and knew there might be some progress being made. Finally, I’d place my confection in front of the whole family and everyone was about to take a taste. No one will ever know how deeply I wanted to please--I almost heard the drum roll before the first bite. Chewing and chewing, loud chewing filled the silence and I realized something might be wrong. Everyone was afraid to make eye contact and my mother looked at my dad who liked anything, as long as it was sweet. He smiled at me and said, “It’s delicious,” which of course it wasn’t and mom said, “The kitchen is in shambles, don’t you think she better go clean it up?” My brother snickered and finally my sister came to the rescue saying, “I’ll help her clean up.”
So my quest began and a few times, I think something I baked as a thirty year old, actually made my mother smile. I think we all live to see our mother’s smile and so here I present you with a foolproof recipe for something that tastes and looks fancier than it really is with the hope that you can make someone smile.
Spray a large muffin pan with cooking spray.
Do not preheat the oven.
Mix 1 cup unbleached flour
2 egg whites
1-tablespoon lemon juice
2 teaspoons grated lemon rind
Dash of salt.
Mix everything together in a large bowl. Whisk until smooth.
Pour batter into pan and place into oven. Set it to 450-degrees.
After 15 minutes, reduce heat to 350 degrees.
Bake another 35 minutes or until they are crusty brown.
Serves six. Easy huh?
(By the way, these can also be split in half and filled with cream and berries for cream puffs.)