It’s only chemistry

From back in 2014 I recall this tale of learning to cook that came to light over a few pitchers of margaritas while overlooking a sunset on a Florida Beach.

“It’s simply chemistry. No challenge,” explained one young wit in response to his mother’s inquiry as to why he never bothered to include anything from that genre in his gastronomic delights.

“That may explain some of my failures,” concluded Diane during the discussion on delightful desserts.

“I was banned from the chem lab for blowing up too many experiments,” she recalled pointing to a couple of minor scars and explaining the nervous breakdown one of her teachers had suffered.

Her last attempt – a couple of decades back – at making a special dessert had included a brush with disaster.

“I’m bringing Ian home for supper after the bonspiel. Why not make him a special treat. He really loves homemade butter tarts. Bye,” said Don as he hurried out the door.

“But…but I don’t know how to make butter tarts,” gasped Diane as the door slammed. Too late. She’d have to use a lifeline and call a friend.

“Oh there’s nothing to it. Here’s a good recipe,” explained the friend too rushed to come over and help, but willing to offer quick advice.

“But I can’t make good pastry shells. Even the dog wouldn’t eat the last pie I made,” cried Diane, fear gripping her now shaken confidence.

“Don’t be silly wasting your time on making pastry. Buy the frozen shells that are oven ready. Better than homemade and simple. Gotta go,” breezed the lifeline hanging up.

The trip to the grocery store obtained a couple of dozen shells, the last in stock. “Most cooks make their own,” sneered the checkout clerk- a male obviously with no conception of the time constraints on most homemakers.

It only took two more trips to the market to gather the rest of the required ingredients. It was now noon. Time to get at it.

“Separate the frozen shells and place on a cookie sheet. Insert filling. Bake until golden brown” were the instructions. Easy as pie.

An hour and a half later Diane had managed to separate the pastry shells from their individual foil cups. It was devilishly difficult. Her young daughter absconded with the aluminum forms to play house.

Things began to go downhill when Diane scooped extra large servings of the hot, diabetic shock inducing gooey mixture into the now sagging pastry shells. She quickly popped the first dozen into the preheated oven and waited on results.

She didn’t have long to wait. The smoke alarm began shrieking ten minutes in. A quick inspection showed flames engulfing the cookie sheets as a waterfall of filling cascaded onto the hot burner. The fire extinguisher and an open door brought a semblance of order.

“No dear you LEAVE the pastry shells in the foil cups,” explained mother during the emergency consultation.


An emergency search for the discarded foil cups found them all nicely crinkled up. It only took another half hour to straighten a dozen of them out and squish the sagging pastry shells back into them. There was enough filling left for this batch, but it took another half hour to scrape the oven clean enough to use without a major flare up.

The first batch welded to the cookie sheet was simply slung out into the back yard. The second baking went off without a hitch. Golden brown and sticky, bubbly hot fresh out of the oven when hubby and Ian rolled in.

“My these are wonderful,” enthused Ian as he and Don gobbled down the better part of the tray full.

“I’m surprised. I just remember you blowing up things in the chem. Lab and baking’s just chemistry,” commented Ian in his worldly wise way.

“What are the ravens and the neighbour’s dog fighting over in the back?” wondered Don glancing out the kitchen window.