My Grandma, Maggie Cavanaugh, was very superstitious. I grew up believing something ominous was going to happen, if I didn’t salute a crow. When I hear an ambulance, I still grab a button and say a prayer. I don’t walk under ladders. For most of my childhood in an Irish-American household on the Southside of Chicago, I avoided sidewalk cracks, which is pretty tough, when you’re from my neighborhood. The list goes on and on of the superstitions I was raised on. One thing we all knew growing up in my Grandma’s house was that bad luck comes in threes. If you stopped by our stand in Carmel last week, I may have told you we had a few hiccups in the kitchen. They were pretty big hiccups/ bad luck.
#1- I thought things were going well, too well, until about 11:30 am or an hour and a half into production. We make huge batches of things in a mixer that’s as big as I am. We were completing the batter for the cupcakes when J man told me we were 4 teaspoons short of xanthum gum. That’s only about 10 % of the xanthum gum needed for the number of batches we were making. A ton of expensive ingredients were already in the mixer. If you know anything about gluten free baking, you know the cupcakes were never going to turn out without the complete amount of xanthum gum. We needed more xanthum gum.
I couldn’t just run to store for it because my husband had dropped J man and I off that morning at the kitchen. I called my husband and he was about an hour away but he could bring us some xanthum gum. J man and a lot of people on the spectrum do very well using an activity schedule. It’s basically a to do list. It makes things predictable and safe, especially in new environments or when learning new tasks. In the kitchen, I call it the production schedule, because it sounds more professional and he is a professional. J man couldn’t cross off cupcakes from his list. So, J man could not move to the next thing on his list. All production halted in my pay by the hour rented commercial kitchen. We probably couldn’t have moved on anyway, because we would’ve needed the mixer.
We took a break for lunch and did some busy work. The busy work led us to #2. We didn’t have any brownie labels. When my husband got there with the xanthum gum, he said he’d turn around, go home and print the labels. We continued with the production schedule, finishing the cupcakes. Up next were the brownies or #3. Size matters. We use brownie pans that make single serve brownies. Getting a consistent portion of brownie batter into each tiny square, proved to be an incredibly difficult task for my team. But I felt relieved, I knew this was # 3, the end of our bad luck and it was smooth sailing ahead. We’d figure out a solution for consistent measuring. Next week, our brownies will all be perfectly sized.
There was no smooth sailing ahead. I said I grew up in an Irish-American household. Yeah, we got crazy superstitions. But we also came up with Murphy’s Law. If anything can go wrong, it will. My husband brought back the brownie labels. Unfortunately, they were printed on the wrong side on the paper and not usable. We burnt the marshmallows. After the brownie size battle, we had a cereal treat size issue too! If you were at the table, you saw the multiple sizes. We also ran hours over our time in the kitchen.
Regardless of all the hiccups and bad luck, we had a great time. I love being able to goof off in the kitchen with J man. He didn’t care how long we were there. He loved it. His brownies might not have been consistent but his mood was! It was great. Yes, I may have grown up in a very warped environment, where if I didn’t throw salt over my shoulder doom would fall upon me. But belief in all that silly magic, prepared me for my life now. It was just faith in knowing that there’s something bigger. I feel very blessed to be working with J man and the rest of the team. I blessed with good humor that won’t allow me to discourage by a batch of hiccups/bad luck. So that being said, I’ll end this blog with a much more positive Irish proverb than Murphy’s law.
My blessings out number my troubles. See you at the markets next with perfectly portioned cereal treats and brownies.