Angela Huston

Now, pay attention. These are desperate times that call for desperate, no, more like drastic, measures. We are striving each and every day to stay in survival mode, and one of those measures demands that we cook until our refrigerators, cupboards, and freezers begin to look undernourished (unlike their owners) between shopping trips.

My latest adventure directed me to the kitchen on a baking mission - again! The kitchen and I have been on friendly terms many years, so it was a familiar trip. During that journey, I have learned (yes, the hard way) to read all directions before beginning a project, any project.

During this stressful period, that advice has been more important than ever since, among other things, trying new recipes daily has almost become a way of life. I found an interesting-looking one for oatmeal chocolate chip cookies I had never used before. It was to be that day's treat.

I read, then reread the recipe several times and felt the directions were clear enough that I could proceed with confidence. I preheated the oven, lined up all the necessary ingredients, and began.

I had a bowlful of batter which I was instructed to shape into golf ball sized lumps, place on an ungreased cookie sheet, and bake for six minutes, no for or about, exactly six. The yield was estimated to be between four and five dozen cookies.

Using an ice cream scoop for uniformity, I shaped the batter into 30 balls, hardly four or five dozen, but I was reluctant to alter the amount in each one -- I was pretty sure I knew the size of a golf ball. I made a decision to leave them and not worry about the quantity. Into the oven went the first batch.

Six minutes later, they were pitifully far from being baked. I had no choice but to continue baking them, increasing the time in two-minute increments, until they were finally edible, 14 minutes later. However, sometimes you have to be alert to what was not even written into the recipe.

Had I paid more attention to the list of actual ingredients I would have realized this one did not include nuts or spices such as cinnamon or nutmeg. What I wound up with tasted like lumps of oatmeal slightly embellished with chocolate chips. My breakfast bowl of oatmeal put them to shame. I have eliminated that particular recipe from my collection.

However, the original point of that activity was to challenge my brain with something new and, yes, relieve some boredom. The only thing I really learned was that even reading carefully and following directions as they are written is not always going to be the solution; it might even prove to be the problem. Sometimes you have to trust your gut!

Until my next kitchen adventure, probably tomorrow, I will return to what has become the daily task of disinfecting everything, cooking, and visiting the world of crossword and jigsaw puzzles, lots and lots of them, to keep my mind from disintegrating as it ponders how long we will be in covid/pandemic/quarantine/isolation mode.

Of course, if anyone does have an interesting recipe they would like to share (other than for oatmeal cookies, thank you very much), I might be willing to give it a try. Like it or not, we still have a lot of winter and being housebound ahead of us.

Pay attention. Trust your gut, but do be sure to read all directions first, very carefully, before beginning any project. You know, measure twice, cut once.... but that is a different story for another day.