Mina picked up Papi's new Details Magazine featuring a smoldering photo of Jonathan Rhys Meyers on the cover and said, "Those are beautiful eyes on that man." Maya and Mina then had a ten minute conversation, between each other only, about how beautiful he was. No other word was used; simply beautiful. Mina then said while still staring at the photo, "He's more beautiful-er than Papi. But Papi is more handsomer-er." Maya agreed, "Papi's handsome. This guy? Beautiful." Watching their taste in boys (and men) develop has been a gas. Maya has tended to crush on the skinny, short geeky boys, though now she seems all over the map with who she thinks is attractive. Chris Brown is her number one, along with every other tweener and teen. A young Elvis? Not so much. Wiry, effeminate Benji from So You Think Dance? Hot to Maya. Mina on the other hand has been consistent about her love of the pretty and slick boys, a complete opposite of my taste or Maya's. The guy that's always portrayed in movies as the great looking asshole? Yea, that's the guy Mina likes. When we watched So You Think You Can Dance a couple years ago, she was ga-ga over Dmitry, the gorgeously pretty Russian dancer who had a severe hip swiveling problem and who kept his shirts unbuttoned to his navel -- and not just for dance competitions. Oh, we find this so highly amusing -- now; coming from an eight year old. I hope I find it as funny in eight to ten years.
Speaking of mad crushes, I'm not sure what's up with my affair with baking. Neither of us is really talking commitment. But it's love, or obsession. With all my other passions, I've had a plan, a solid direction whether they ever materialized or not. Even with brokering I've known what I wanted out of it. (My new brokering plan involves the word "exit.") But this obsession with baking has no attachments. Maybe I've tossed around the idea of "side biz" and maybe I've prepped myself for that if that's what this is, but honestly I don't know what I'm doing or what any of this all means. It's liberating to let the obsession be boss.
Twenty years ago, I used to bake a decent budín de coco (coconut bread pudding). It was an easy recipe until a coworker suggested that I caramelize sugar and glaze the top, which seemed complicated and extreme at the time. But I thought I'd give it a fumbling try anyway. I took a glass pyrex dish, put sugar in it and put it on a burner set at high. As the sugar started to ball up, the dish shattered with an extreme pop and I watched a large shard of glass flip up in front of me and tumble down below until it stabbed me in my big toe, standing on end in my skin until I pulled it out. I still have the scar. I spent the next hour scrubbing tiny balls of cemented sugar off my boyfriend's floor and cabinets and stove and walls.
But now, the Art of Baking -- the nuances and the finesse, the sense not to put glass on a burner -- all comes spontaneously natural. I have no idea why. I can't wait to practice new things. After Día de los Muertos I thought I would not want to bake for a while, but after a day I had to try something else. I couldn't wait. I think about baking an embarrassing amount of time during the day. It's like I've contracted a viral baking disorder.
The Pastry Princess came up with this beautiful idea for a cupcake: Pumpkin Seed Brittle stabbed in a cupper. I thought I'd give it a vegan whirl. I omitted the chili powder from the brittle and used a chocolate cake laced with pumpkin pie spice. The icing is plain vanilla "buttercream" sprinkled with the pumpkin pie spice. I had to caramelize the sugar to make the brittle - gasp - and I am scarfree after the fact. Because of my new disorder no doubt. Hey, here's to all of our shit-against-the-wall late-blooming obsessions.