1

Honey Cake on a Whim for Rosh Hashanah

I woke up this morning, and I was like, holy crap, it’s Rosh Hashanah.

Well, not now, but later tonight.

And I haven’t done anything for it.

Then I went to class, and when I got home, it hit me: I should totally bake something. Last year, I baked a honigkuchen (honey cake) so I thought I’d bake it on a whim, and thereby establish it as a traditional honigkuchen (ooh aah). I found my old recipe, and with about two hours to go until class, I decided to give it a try.

That’s So Jacob’s Kitchen Presents

That’s So Nom

Episode 2: Between-Class On-A-Whim Honey Cake for Rosh Hashanah

Step 1: Gather ingredients.

Step 2: Realize you don’t have all the correct ingredients midway through preparation, so run out to the corner store to buy the remainder for rip-off prices. Be pleasantly surprised when the store actually has normal prices for things – $5 for applesauce, cinnamon, baking soda, and brown sugar? SWEET.

Step 3: Return home and complete the cooking to the sounds of the Ronnie Spector station on Pandora.

Step 4: Put in oven, for twenty-five minutes.

Step 5: Start your reading for class, occasionally checking on the cake.

Step 6: When the timer beeps, check the cake. If it’s still a watery mess in a tin, close oven door and set timer for another 10 minutes.

Step 7: Repeat step six about 5 times because it doesn’t seem to be baking.

Step 8: If on or about the sixth time you check on it it’s still warmed-up ingredient soup in a tin, call mother and freak out at her. Then put on bottom rack in oven for about 10 more minutes, for the last. fucking. time.

Step 9: Remove hot cake from oven, finally cooked, but realize that the batter has overflowed the pan and it looks like somebody pooped in your oven.

Step 10: Laugh uncontrollably at the fake poop in the oven, then take picture of it and send it to your sister in Washington. Consider leaving the poop outside your neighbor’s door as a prank, but eat it instead because it’s actually not poop but delicious honey cake.

Step 11: Put cake in bag and wrestle with the Cling Wrap (the official baking tool of SATAN) to attempt to cover the hot cake in it to stay hot, but ultimately only pull off a few tiny pieces.

Step 12: Realize that you’re going to be late for class unless you leave RIGHT NOW so wrap that burning hot cake in a bag, tuck it under your arm, and run down State Street like it’s the Superbowl.

Step 13: Arrive in class at exactly 4:00 (phew). Plop cake down in bag, on the table but not yet visible. Proceed to torture yourself and your classmates with the delicious smell of honey, and realize that you are now sweaty, have brown stains on your khakis, and smell like a combination of delicious cake and the garlic sauce you made to go on your salmon last night. Hope no one else notices the garlic emanating from you. Practice saying “honigkuchen” in your head several times.

Step 14: At class’s conclusion, reveal the lovingly-baked honigkuchen to a chorus of delight and confusion. Pretend that you just dashed it off casually while reading Chinese and Japanese performance theory texts as if you are Little Suzy Grad Student. Cut off in hunks and serve on napkins. Serves six hungry and curious East Asian studies graduate students and two confused but relieved East Asian studies professors.

Your results, as always, may vary.

Shana tova, y’all.

20

Thumb and Thumber

51qm0m31jyl_The concept of a “helpful tips column” has been around for awhile. From Ann Landers to Emily Post, Dear Abby to Heloise, “hints” and “tips” have been at our fingertips, literally, since my grandmother could clip them out of the newspaper and store them in a fancy box in the kitchen. With the decline of the print newspaper (you can argue that it’s not dying, but I’d ask you to read the front page advertisements in The New York Times before you stated your case), the advice column is probably what’s taken the biggest beating, along with weather (which is even in cars now), stocks (already outdated by the time the issue hits your hands), and sports scores (24/7 sports television takes care of that). Plus, society has changed; people care less about how to clean the insoles of your shoes than about how to set up a video game console. Certain things matter less to people, like having a squeaky-clean kitchen, reusing flour sacks as diapers, and the proper way to show up to a cotillion. They’ve been replaced by antibacterials, recycling, and…well, who goes to cotillions anymore? Certainly, the advice column as we know it was about to go.

Then, along came Pinterest.

And Buzzfeed.

And Extreme Makeover: Home Edition.

And Cake Boss.

And suddenly, “tips” got hot again, whether for going green in the kitchen, saving bathroom space, or artsy-craftsy things like making baby shower invitations or making a bookshelf out of an old oven range. What came back in full force, though, were the cooking tips. Gluten free, vegan, and of course, all those mini-mini-cupcakes and cake that looks like a Mondrian painting when you cut into it.

Ever going along with the trends, Reader’s Digest presses on with their columns, but sometimes the advice isn’t that well-thought-out, like this past March’s column on page 46 entitled, “The Clever Cook: Be A Spotless Gourmet.”

Tip #1: Place ingredients on an empty baking sheet prior to prepping them.

Okay, so it’s just basically saying, get your shit together before you make a mess.

Tip #2: Broken glass? Pick it up with white bread!

I really wonder who thought of that idea, and who had to test that.

Tip #3: As you cook, toss scraps into a large bowl to contain messes if a trash can isn’t around.

When I cook, I don’t tell my trash cans to go out on a date and “come back before midnight”…most kitchens have trash cans for this purpose, or even sinks with garbage disposals to eliminate this problem entirely. Moving on…

Tip#4: To protect a recipe card, put it under a glass lid.

Okay, so kitchen snow globe. Not a horrible idea, but who uses recipe cards anymore? For me, it’s my Better Homes and Gardens cookbook or the Internet.

Tip #5: Secure a paper towel around the neck of an olive oil bottle to prevent drips.

This one is actually smart. I hadn’t thought of that. However, I usually just wipe the bottle after I use it, problem solved.

Tip #6: “Keep your thumbs squeaky clean by using a wine cork to make an indent in thumbprint cookies.”

…um, what?

Seriously?

wine cork?

If you’re making thumbprint cookies and are too lazy to do the thumbprint thing, maybe you should’ve thought this activity through a little more, and made cupcakes, or flan, or jello…or even a fruit salad, for that matter. Unless you intend to make a watermelon basket with your thumbs. Also, if you’re that anal about keeping your thumbs clean, then maybe baking is not the activity for you. Baking is fun, but it’s inevitable that you’re going to get something messy, whether it’s your hair, hands, clothes. Usually, it’s all three.

Try knitting, or playing piano, or watching TV.

Unless you’re also so lazy that you need to use wine corks to press the buttons on your remote control.