The kitchen is the one place where I have no fear. Nothing intimidates me and I am fully confident. When people act like I am doing something crazy, I rarely give myself any credit, because how could you be scared of things like oil or yeast? I reserve my fear for things that can kill me. You don’t want to roast a turkey for Thanksgiving yet you get on airplanes and enjoy riding through the Lincoln Tunnel? I’ll handle gizzards over the Lincoln Tunnel any day.

And as I was rolling beignet dough this morning, I happened to think that during a time of my life when I am the ultra-stable force in my kids’ lives — the one putting them to bed, washing their clothes, cooking the meals, helping with the homework — cooking is also my travel. My husband has the demanding job, does the travel, meets the cool people, and finds professional inspiration all over the place. I go to the grocery store and search for inspiration (because the part of you that needs that never goes away) in places and times that make bleeding a stone look easy. Child rearing can be mind-numbingly boring, but it’s in your personal boredom that your kids find stability and security.

I don’t look at either my husband’s job or mine and think one is more important. Sure, we’d be really hungry and cold without his, but it is so incredibly difficult to have both parents intently focused on career at all moments and travel the country and change the world. Someone has got to wipe the asses and provide lessons on multiplying fractions. It is a choice we make when we decide to have kids — even if we don’t realize we are making it at the time.

So today I went to New Orleans with my kids. And we ate beignets and sipped on coffee and hot chocolate. The yeast was fresh and rose the dough into puffy little pillows, the oil was at a steady 350 degrees and browned the beignets perfectly, and we laughed at clips of Steve Martin and Dan Aykroyd as the Two Wild and Crazy Guys. It’s often easy to feel bitter about being the one watching “Kindergarten Cop” on a Friday night while your husband is on 6th Street in Austin. And trust me, I have plenty of those moments. But, when I get to be the one hearing my kids laugh at Arnold Schwarzenegger saying “It’s not a tumor!” and having a picnic lunch on my boy’s 6 1/2 birthday on our first spring-like day, I try to step back and live in the now and in the positive.

I try to remember that there will be days in my future when I will be sitting in New Orleans eating beignets and sipping chicory coffee. And I am fully aware that, when that time comes, I will be wishing I were at my kitchen counter watching YouTube clips with powdered sugar covered babies.

Here’s the recipe I used:

Beignets (Epicurious)

4 thoughts on “On Fear and Beignets

  1. Kristin: You are so right on with your thoughts and feelings! This time with Max and Madeline is so fleeting. I am pleased and proud of you as a wife and mother to my grandchildren and traveler son!. I tried to savor as much as I could even though I worked. I am not sorry at all that I stayed within certain parameters to be home with my children in their early formative years. Yes, you will have a lot of time just as I do now to do anything and whatever you want to do while your children are off traveling the world, working and trying to raise your grandchildren. You will feel proud of what you have done as a Mother…. and you will be rewarded many times over just as I feel I am every time I hear my children’s adult voices and my grand childrens’ sweet giggles! Love you!

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