When I was little, I watched a lot of PBS. I especially liked a little low-budget show filmed in Roanoke called Cookin’ Cheap. I regularly watched Laban Johnson and Larry Bly make all kinds of stuff. They used regular ingredients found in local stores and made messes cooking everyday meals. They were funny without effort (like the time they couldn’t figure out how to use an electric can opener). I loved that show. I wanted to be like Larry and Laban.
So, when I was home alone (or when my mom was upstairs working) I did my own version of Cookin’ Cheap. My specialty was hors d’oeuvres. To be precise: Ham and Cheese toothpicks. These were carefully crafted squares of ham and cheese, stacked in a particular, artistic order. Sometimes, I made Ham and Cheese Sociables, and sometimes I designed special edition Ritz Crackers with squeeze cheese. Those turned out especially beautiful.
As you may have already guessed, I wasn’t allowed to use the stove.
I didn’t have a camera or any fancy equipment either, but I was really good at narrating as I went.
I never lost my aspirations to cook for an audience. When I graduated college and couldn’t immediately find a job in my field, I applied for a part time job at a bakery since I fancied myself practically a chef. I showed up at 5 am every morning for blueberry muffin and scone duty and built a good track record. Only once were my muffins discounted (they were a tad bit salty). I had big dreams, but got an advertising job before I moved up to the next rung on the ladder: cinnamon buns.
My time at the bakery was relatively short, but it was long enough to develop a deep longing for certain pieces of kitchen equipment which I was sure would make me a professional baker. At the top of the list was a KitchenAid mixer. Oh, those KitchenAid mixers, just let me tell you. They are awesome.
Also, they are expensive.
For years and years I pined for the KitchenAid mixer.
In fact, the absence of a KitchenAid mixer in my kitchen is the very reason I have never reached my full potential as a chef. I know this to be true.
And then! Finally, finally after all those years of longing, I awoke on Christmas morning and found this beauty under the tree:
Okay, if I am to be completely truthful, Annabelle wasn’t under my tree. There was a stern looking industrial gray KitchenAid mixer under my tree, and I took one look at it and knew I had to trade it for Annabelle.
Because, well, just look at her. You understand.
Matt didn’t understand. He said the gray one “matched the refrigerator” and asked why I would want a red one, because “it’s not like it’s a display piece.”
And I said, “OF COURSE IT’S A DISPLAY PIECE!” And I put it in a prominent place on the counter so that it’s the first thing you see when you come into my house.
I’m so proud of Annabelle.
To celebrate her arrival in our kitchen, and since Alyssa feels the same way about cooking that I do, we made a video. I have come to terms with the fact that I am probably too old now to be pretending to do a cooking show [and post it], so I let her do the cooking and I simply served as [a very sorry excuse for] the director. It’s not quite in the same vein as Cookin’ Cheap, but oh, it was fun!
If you’d like to see Alyssa and Annabelle in action, just click below. You can learn to make Brownie Cookies in under two minutes. (And they really do taste great!) One tip: try to get the eggs inside the mixing bowl.
It may take years (and years and years), but dreams really do come true. For me, at least.
Alyssa’s dream is a visit from Pioneer Woman. I’m thinking she may be in for a longer wait than I had–for the real thing, at least.