"Baking projects"

I never thought I'd voluntarily post this picture online, but I guess this is the year in which I surprise myself. 

Last week Sur la Table posted a Q&A profile of me in which I talk about my early memories of cooking. One benefit about having a mother who doesn't share my obsessive sense of organization and cleanliness is that she permitted (nay, encouraged) me and my friends to work on 'baking projects' in the kitchen. Without recipes. Or any baking knowledge at all, really. I remember my friend Kassie and I made "zucchini bread" after school in fourth grade or so. We had heard of people putting egg whites into baked goods, so we cracked an egg, separated out the yolk, and poured the white over the dough in a bread pan. Into the oven went the ill-fated loaf, and a hour later it came out less like zucchini bread and more like chopped-vegetables-in-gooey-flour-topped-with-a-low-cholesterol-fried-egg. No one ate it.

I'm grateful for those early days of kitchen experimentation. They were the perfect counter to my perfectionist tendencies. Luckily my skills have grown over the years (and so have Kassie's - she makes delicious chocolate chip cookies), so when I made whole wheat cranberry-sweet potato muffins yesterday and only sort of followed the recipe, the result tilted heavily toward this side of edible. Unfortunately, I didn't keep track of what I threw in, but I started here if you are looking to try your hand at a "baking project."

P.S. Check out our huge box of an 80s microwave. My parents still use that thing...