Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Day 24: Itching to Bake

I still have no news on the house, which puts me in a terrible mood. We countered with pricing twice, and supposedly reached an agreement, but with no signed contract in sight I am feeling pretty resigned. When we listed our Denver home for sale, the realtor pestered us daily. Even on our weekend vacation to Crested Butte we were making deals with roofers and picking times for the closing over the phone. Here, we finalized our bid last Friday and haven't heard a peep since. Things really do move at a snail's pace in Kansas, so there's no telling.

Over the weekend, I took a peek at the Iola farmers market. It looked just like one truckbed full of corn, and second truck with a card table out front holding one box of fat cucumbers and one box of yellow squash. Not very market-y. Poppy and I shouldered a big load of disappointment on our sweaty backs and headed home, lightly panting.

Off we went to Kansas City, where Carole's market trip had been far more successful. Her window sill was brimming with fat, ripe tomatoes. This is all she usually buys at the market, and she eats them like peaches, dripping over the sink. Because she is nice, she gave me a huge one to take home.

We ate tex-mex off the Liberty square while watching old guys parade through blockaded streets in refurbished cars. I visited Starbucks twice in one day, happily. We shopped for nothing at Target. (Target! How I miss her.) We brunched at a mom-n-pop diner with the best hash browns I've had in ages and a huge fresh biscuit. Then we herded our dogs into the car and headed back to Iola with a box of Lamar's donuts, a spankin' new blowup mattress, a ziploc full of smoked almonds — I'm obsessed with Jerry's newest Costco find — and zero dirty laundry. An altogether great trip.

This week I've been obsessively immersed in bakery research, which doesn't feel like work at all. Yesterday, for example, I only stopped doing cost research because the internet shut down on me. The free internet gods got crabby around 3 p.m. It was a break I wanted but was somehow unable to will myself to take. I'm worried about discovering the cost will be too much for us, so I'm obsessively researching every detail.

The more research I do, the more I have an overwhelming need to bake something. It's odd how I went from baking 20 hours per week to just baking on occasion. I didn't know how much I would miss the ingredients and the smells, poking trays into the oven and stuffing platters with baked goods for customers. It was annoying sometimes how quickly things would sell, simply because it meant I had to bake more before I could leave. Now I crave it. Brushing softened butter onto braided danish with a soft scoop of cream filling. Swooping pecan sticky buns out of the hot pan with caramel dripping onto the counter. Dolloping the sugar-and-oat crunch atop blueberry muffins before they slide into the oven. The diligent sound of the mixer fluffing up frosting.

Just the sight of stacked butter in the grocery store now makes me want to melt it, mix it and bake it up. Those rainbow-hued eggs from the farmers market beg to be used decadently. I worry that I wander the store licking my lips like dogs before dinner. After all, I'm doing it now.

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