Why Baking Is Like Magic And Paleo Cooking Is Not

January 30, 2014

I finally figured it out this morning. The light bulb went off. Or the oven timer dinged, you could say. This post started as a rant about the paleo craze-y and how I don’t understand the sheer volume of paleo recipes in the world because most of these concoctions are essentially the same 10 ingredients combined into different shapes. You’re eating the same food in different shapes. I don’t get it. But then as I was writing this paleo rant I realized two things: One, I eat mostly paleo and you’ll think I’m a hypocrite and two, I don’t think I’m a hypocrite because I don’t combine my foods into different shapes. Ok, I guess I realized three things. THREE, I don’t combine my foods into different shapes because I don’t like to cook. Actually I already knew number three and you probably did too but as I was looking through some of these paleo recipes it dawned on me WHY I don’t like to cook and what the major difference between cooking and baking is. So let’s get to it. I was scrolling through PaleOMG, which is supposedly the place for amazing paleo recipes when this picture of 5 Ingredient Pizza Spaghetti Pie caught my eye. It was probably the “5 Ingredient” title that caught my eye over the actual image but anyways; I clicked on the recipe and began reading. Back up. Whoa the horses for a minute. Before I began reading this recipe I thought to myself, “Oh, 5 ingredients! Maybe I’ll make that! How hard could it be??” And then I began reading.
“Step 1: Cut the spaghetti squash. Step 2: Cook the spaghetti squash. Step 3: Cook the sausage in a pan. Step 4: Add onion and sauce and pepper and salt and something else. Step 5: Remove the squash from the oven. Step 6: Add eggs to the pan. Step 8: Whisk it all together. Step 9: Sell your first-born child. Step 10: What happened to step 7? Step 11: Put the entire mixture in a dish. Step 12: Go to Spain and pick up some saffron. Step 13: Bake the dish for an hour in the oven. Step 14: Watch your unborn children graduate from college. Step 15: Remove from oven and let cool for 5 minutes. Step 16: Serve to the shrunken starved bodies of your family resting on the floor.”
I stared at the recipe. I read it again. And as my eyes began to cross I thought, I could skip all those steps, put a sweet potato in the microwave for 7 ½ minutes, cook some ground beef in a skillet for those same 7 1/2 minutes, and microwave a bag of green beans for 5 of those 7 ½ minutes and be done. Which is what I do almost every night. Because I’m that clever. So here’s where we get to the moral of the story. This is where I realized the BIGGEST most AMAZING difference between cooking and baking. Are you ready? Brace yourself… Cooking what I’ll call “dishes” are completely unnecessary. Completely. Unnecessary! While baking desserts is an absolute must. Absolute. MUST. Let me explain. Say you want a cookie. Or a cake. Or cupcakes or a brownie or a pie. Or any one of the most delectable sweets in existence. You can’t just bypass the mixing of the ingredients phase. Oh no you can’t! You absolutely must mix the flour with the sugar with the baking soda with the eggs in order to eat that cake. You want that cake? You must mix for that cake! I repeat: You cannot under any circumstances fix yourself a plate of flour with a side of sugar, and a sprinkling of baking soda and lap it up like a happy pup. You must mix! Now let’s take a look at dinner. You could spend hours chopping tomatoes, peeling onions, and mixing 10 different ingredients into a pot to let simmer while then removing the pot and mixing the simmered stuff with something else and then something else and then something else until your day is gone. OR You could just eat chicken and sweet potatoes and vegetables all on their very own! No need to whip, peel, mix, stir, simmer, nor set! And I’ll tell you, a sweet potato tastes just as good smeared with a pat of butter and a sprinkling of sea salt as it does whipped and mixed and diced and sliced. It sure does. And thus, the lesson here is that the part of baking that’s so wonderful is that it’s necessary. In baking you are taking completely raw ingredients that cannot under any circumstances be eaten on their own and you’re creating something brilliantly delicious and fabulously delightful out of them. It’s a bit like magic. Yes. That’s why I choose baking over cooking. Because baking is magic.  

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