Women are never wrong.
German women are never ever wrong.
Old German women are never ever EVER wrong.
If you find yourself in a situation where you believe that an old German is wrong, think very carefully before you point out their error. In fact, be sure to have written and notarized proof of said mistake. Probably have it signed by the Pope or someone else too. Then pray for your life because the world is about to fucking end.
My mother is a German lady in her late 60’s (she’ll be in her 60’s for about ten more minutes), but I didn’t call her old. I’m not that crazy.
As she was an Air Force wife for many years, she had the opportunity to meet people from around the world. In becoming friendly with lots of people, she exchanged many recipes. We regularly tried new types of cuisine: Italian, English, Indian… The woman is a seriously good cook. In fact, I can’t remember anything that ever came out badly. There were many things I refused to eat because they were gross, but I think everything tasted as it was supposed to.
However, the woman CANNOT bake. I’m not sure what she does when she puts stuff in the oven, but stories of her baked goods are the stuff family legends are made of. There was the time that the Cool Whip “didn’t look right” so she broke out the hand mixer and beat the shit out of the Cool Whip, which made it liquefy. She slapped it on the cake anyway and told my father to put it outside in the cold so it could “set up.” Hours later he brought in a chilly cake covered in liquid Cool Whip and we all got treated to a lecture about using real whipped cream and not “that fake shit.” And we ate that cake and we told her it was good… because we aren’t stupid.
The next cake was rock hard. I’m not sure how it happened, but it’s been my job to cut every cake we have. Even if we are celebrating a birthday, the birthday person hands me the fork and asks me to serve it up. So she bakes this cake and I start to cut into it and the knife isn’t moving. Finally I used the knife like a saw and made progress. I gave my sister the first piece and she took a bite, gasped and slapped her hand to her mouth and yelled, “Oh my God, Mom! Your cake chipped my tooth.” I’m pretty sure the old girl hasn’t baked since.
Now that she has internet access, she’s constantly surfing the web and finds all sorts of recipes. If it is something that needs to be baked, she sends it to me and I’m expected to make it for her. She might critique the hell out of my offering, but she’s generally pretty happy because her sweet tooth gets a fix.
This past weekend, Sugar had a sleepover so I promised Spice we would make something. Since fall has arrived, I thought of my mother’s recipe from an old English friend for Pumpkin Bars. I knew she was leaving to visit her sister, so I called and asked for her to please send me the recipe. She sent it almost immediately along with a note that I had better print if off and put it in a cookbook so I don’t lose it again.
On Friday night I took the list to the grocery store and bought all the ingredients that I needed. I didn’t notice until I got home that there wasn’t any type of pumpkin on the list. I called to ask her how much pumpkin I needed…
Me: How much pumpkin do I need?
Mom: What does it say on the recipe?
Me: You left it out. I don’t know.
Mom: I didn’t leave it off the recipe. You need a can.
Me: A big can or a little can?
Mom: There’s only one size of pumpkin puree. You need one can.
Then we wander down the path of different can sizes and she maintains that I am wrong. Through the entire conversation, she insists that I am not reading the recipe right, OF COURSE SHE PUT THE PUMPKIN IN RECIPE SHE EMAILED ME.
Spice and I finally got the bars baked and we started working on the cream cheese frosting. Despite adding more and more powdered sugar, there seemed to be something wrong with the frosting. I kept looking at the recipe, making sure I put everything in… Finally I gave up and slapped the frosting on the bars. As I finished up, I glanced at a Paula Deen recipe that seemed pretty similar. Oh, one needs butter in cream cheese frosting?! Of course you do! The butter from my mother’s recipe probably ran off with the freakin’ can of pumpkin.