Life Lessons From a Meringue Cookie

Several weeks ago in class we whipped up a batch of Swiss meringue for twenty meringue cookies we needed for a special dinner. After a classmate piped the twenty-plus-a-few-spares and slid them into the oven, I noticed the still over-filled pastry bag on the work table. Our Chef Instructor reminded us these little cookies keep well stored in an airtight container… so I piped out the remaining meringue. All of it. And baked it into many tiny star-tipped cookies.

These little meringues have been sitting on the top shelf of our kitchen for weeks now, and I don’t think they’ve been touched. In their defense, they have fierce competition. But each time I notice them they make me think for some reason.

So, just for fun… Life Lessons From a Meringue Cookie

  • Learn to take a little heat- sometimes for longer than you’d like. While heavy heat can turn you dark and bitter, sometimes enduring a bit of low heat can actually make you stronger and more resilient in the long run.
  • Stay firm under pressure. So many demands in life can begin to shape who you are and who you are becoming. Be moldable… but only into shapes which remain true to your intent.
  • Lend sweetness. Some of our personalities are naturally saturated with sugar and may be most fully appreciated in smaller servings. Others of us may more subtly hint at sugar, but it’s present all the same. There is a place for each… and everything in between. Know yourself and dose your corner of the world accordingly.
  • Age gracefully. Maintain your integrity, avoid becoming discolored by your environment, hold on to your sweetness… and always keep a little feisty bit of crunch.

Cookie, anyone…?


I tried to ‘mise en place’ my Sunday

Today was a bit of an experiment of sorts. You see, if you’ve gotten the impression- either from knowing me in person or from journeying with Terrified Tastebud- that I’m meticulously organized, detail-oriented, goal-driven… you’re mostly right. Often for better; occasionally for worse. However, if you envision me as the epitome of efficiency and balance in the kitchen or life in general, then you’re dead wrong.

In the kitchen, the French term mise en place translates into “everything in place” or “put in place” and it refers to all the preparation and organization that must be achieved before actual production can begin. Picture your favorite Food Network set with everything imaginable already measured, diced, washed, trimmed… whisk right under the counter just where and when you need it. You get the idea.

first buds on my Urban Columnar Tangy Green apple tree

So why not try that with any random day? Today began with a tease of intermittent sunshine- hence photos of my patio flowers- that quickly turned into a bipolar mix of rain and hail, snow, sleet… and more sunshine.

Knowing this impending forecast, I organized a productive day of writing, studying for my every-Monday exam, baking bread for a week of breakfasts, revamping my budget (happy tax day, by the way), organizing the towering stack of mail/recipes/photos that’s been loing on my bar, catching up on emails… all those things that would be nice to accomplish on a rainy day.

dwarf sugar peas, happy in the morning sunshine

And the verdict at the end of the day? About three-fourths of it has been completed… fairly close to what I’m guessing is average for me. Perhaps I’ll try to be more specific with my mise en place next time- include time frames for each item instead of just a priority order. Organization has markedly improved my work in the kitchen, so I’m not quite ready to give up on mise-ing the rest of my life just yet. Maybe I’ll try to mise en place my Sunday again soon.

single red tulip that made its way trough my ground cover

But for the rest of tonight, I’ll enjoy the single red tulip I rescued from the hail as I study.