The Short Humour Site

Home : Writers' Showcase : Submission Guidelines : A Man of a Few More Words : Links

Writers' Showcase

The Intrepid Baker and Her Critics
by Stacey Tol

“What’s that smell?” my daughter asked, wrinkling her nose as she walked into the kitchen.

“Vinegar,” chorused her siblings from the adjoining room. They’d asked the same question moments earlier.

“Why? What are you making?”

“Um,” I hesitated as I tried to put the best spin on my latest Pinterest find, “I’ve never made it before.”

“Does it have a name?”

“Well…” I kept stalling.

“Is it savory or sweet?”

“Sweet. It’s a Polish dessert called…’Vinegar Rolls,’” I finally admitted.

“Sounds delicious,” she said in a tone that clearly meant, “I would rather eat cold gruel”

Armed with a ruffled apron and oven mitts, I opened the oven door to baste the top of the cinnamon-sugar pie crust roll with more of the vinegar sugar syrup. As the searing, acidic fumes blasted from the oven blinding me for a heartbeat or two, I contemplated my offspring’s lack of appreciation.

So many families get stuck eating a rotation of the same dozen meals week in and week out! How many would love to give up their humdrum pizza for a chance at something different and amazing? Malaysian laksa maybe or Czech svickova. My children were ingrates!

Sure. There had been some Pinterest fails. There was the gluten-free cloud bread that tasted like eggy Styrofoam and the multi-layered baumtorte that took hours to make and was significantly less tasty than a box of instant brownies.

On the other hand, there were huge wins. Who knew that lasagna soup would be such a crowd pleaser or that lemon zucchini cake could outpace its chocolate and vanilla relatives?

When the fifty-minute timer finally sounded, I pulled the golden pastry out, fully prepared to revel in it. Afterall, the recipe’s reviewers had raved! There were mentions of grandma, secret family recipes, and the scent of Christmas. With my first bite, I realized those reviewers had either played fast and loose with their commendations or had been blinded by the fuzzy spectacles of nostalgia.

“It’s not bad,” I said, covering my serving of pastry with a healthy scoop of ice cream, “but it’s not a do-over.”

“Did the name ‘Vinegar Rolls’ not make that obvious?” my son smirked.

“I wasn’t expecting the vinegar to be so overpowering,” I defended.

“Mom. Do you expect apple pie to have a lot of apples?” Fine. He made a good point.

Ah well, live and learn. Maybe I’ll have more success with my next baking attempt. There’s a chocolate onion cake recipe I’m curious about. One reviewer gave it five stars!