Friday, November 16, 2012

I baked a cake

Yes, I baked a cake. A sheet cake, not from scratch, but from a mix, with bought icing. Still, I baked a cake.
And why did I do such a thing? The churches in my area serve a lunch once a week called Second Helpings for those who might not get a good meal at other times, or who just want to socialize with others over a meal.
It was my church’s turn to cook, and my United Methodist Women circle got the dessert assignment. I volunteered to bake one of the cakes. I did so more than a month ago, so it seemed fairly safe at the time. As the time drew nearer to actually do the work, though, I got anxious.


Cake batter in the disposable foil pan I used so I wouldn't have to worry about getting a pan returned to me.

Cooking on the stove is a 98 on my fear hierarchy for checking. But I found out that cooking something in the oven was less anxiety producing than cooking on the stovetop.
I think that may be because the eye on the stovetop seems more dangerous to me than the oven. It’s so hot and so “right there,” and if I don’t turn off the stove properly, my husband could get burned by touching it, or a paper towel or something that rests against it could cause a fire.
Years ago, I let a pot run over and a fire started on the stovetop. I was able to put it out, but it scared me and made me even more anxious about cooking than I already was.
Also, cooking on the stovetop can produce splashes of food. That bothers my contamination OCD.
Cake right out of the oven.

I would put my SUDs score for cooking in the oven at about a 90.
I felt that 90 when it was time to turn off the stove. I turned it off just once, which was a lot better than some incidences in the past when I’ve turned it off and on and off and on over and over.
I did stare at the on/off button, with my reading glasses and without. And I did stop when I got a “right” feeling. But I didn’t ask my husband to check behind me, even though I really wanted to. I knew that I needed to take care of the matter myself.
My anxiety level stayed up for probably about an hour after turning off the stove, slowly ebbing away to about a 40. And I was able to forget about whether or not the stove was off.
I think I was helped by all my recent work on my checking compulsions.

Cake with icing.
I also had some contamination OCD anxiety with the whole cooking thing, more than I thought I would.
One reason was because I had to use eggs, and I am weird about eggs. I’m so afraid of spreading salmonella or some other disease if I don’t clean up after the egg use.
In other words, I worried about the spot in the sink where I set the eggshells once I cracked the eggs, and I worried about any splashes from the mixing bowl on the counter.
So I cleaned with soap and water and with disinfectant cleaner after I had the cake in the oven.
The funny thing is, I have no qualms about eating cake batter, which has uncooked eggs in it. I’m not afraid of getting salmonella—just afraid of spreading it to others.
Then I thought about the quality of the cake. I worried aloud about what if the cake didn’t taste good.
My husband replied, “Well, you’ll never know.”
And I won’t. I wasn’t present when it was eaten, so I won’t ever know people’s reactions to it. That reminder from my husband helped that worry to dissolve.
  The next morning, as I prepared to take the cake to the drop-off site, my husband said, “That cake sure looked good.”
  He sighed.
“But I didn’t get to eat any.”
  So it looks like I’ll be making another cake soon. For my husband.

  Do you have any anxieties about cooking?

33 comments:

  1. So now I'm wondering...do you not normally do much cooking since it's so anxiety-producing for you?

    I'm a lot better as far as cooking than I used to be.

    Oh and making another cake for your husband is a perfect looping activity!

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    1. Kristina, I normally don't cook much at all because of all the anxiety. I would like to cook more, so I'm working on it.

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  2. I don't have OCD but I am sick of cooking. I see it as something to do as soon as Husband will agree to eat just so I can get it out of the way. Like it's a chore and I feel so much better once it is done.

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    1. Middle Child, I can understand that. I don't know that I'll ever love cooking. I just want to get to the point where I can do it without so much anxiety.

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  3. AWESOME! I know how hard this was for you! You did great!

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  4. Even with your anxiety, Tina, you did it! So good for you! Maybe you should start baking cakes all the time........for therapy, of course. :)

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    1. Of course, Janet, snacking should always be done in the name of therapy!

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    2. Thank you, Janet! Who knows, maybe I'll become a baker--or not! I'll be satisfied if I can just make an occasional cake. :-) But if I go on a baking frenzy, I'll ship some out to you--and to you, Sunny! :-)

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  5. So awesome!!!! I love seeing you live fully and I know it took SO much courage to do this. Thanks for sharing this lovely victory.

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    1. Thank you! I like how you say it's living fully--that's what my goal is!

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  6. Congrats on a huge victory! What exciting progress!

    The kitchen is one place where I'm at my best. I love cooking. However, if I'm making a meal for guests, I tend to cook too much because I worry that people will leave the table hungry.

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    1. Thank you, Nadine, I feel like it's progress. I think it's wonderful that you are so at home in the kitchen. It's a true gift, I think, to cook and nourish others.

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  7. I'm so proud of you! And it's even cooler that you did all this for a good cause - not even for yourself. You have such a kind heart :-)

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    1. Thank you, Lisa. It's a neat program that they have.

      I'm still thinking about those brownies you wrote about! :-)

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  8. Yes, your heart is very kind Tina. I also know this was difficult for you so bravo, bravo for doing it.
    I love cooking but I do have anxieties that surround the process. Mine revolve more around making sure the counters are wiped off and things are cleaned up afterwards. My husband will cook and clean up too and sometimes I will see that he did not wipe the stove top off and I think how in the world can you miss something like that? The funny thing is I don't check or do an inspection after him ( I would like to, but I think it would be bad for both of us) so if I notice it, it will be the next day or the next time I cook, so then I think, it really is not life or death crucial if I miss a spot on the counter but I sure act like it at the time. I also can get anxious over how things are placed on my counter, like I know when something has been moved and it bugs me if things are not sitting straight. I have come a long way but last night I found myself "making sure" a plant I have in the kitchen is sitting "just right". Because I do love to cook I have tried not to let OCD rob me of the joy of it.

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    1. Krystal Lynn, thank you. I'm glad you love cooking and that you won't allow OCD to rob you of that joy.

      I worry about the counters after my husband cooks, too, and I, too, try not to check behind him. He does a good job, but somehow, I still worry about it. But I'm getting better.

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  9. This is just super Tina! You really are making a lot of progress!
    I like cooking, but my husband does too, so we have turns.
    I've never had OCD related problems with cooking.

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    1. Klaaske, Thank you! That's neat that both you and your husband like to cook. My husband cooks some--really, more than I do.

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  10. Aw, that is AWESOME, Tina! So incredibly proud of you. Funny, like you I am really scared of eggs, but I LOVE raw cookie dough, brownie batter, and cake batter. I eat it every chance I get! What a blessing you were to the people who got to eat your cake. And it was a true gift from you, because it cost you so much emotionally. I really hope this experience helps your OCD.

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    1. Oh, and if I had the chance, I SO would have eaten a piece of that cake. : )

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    2. Thank you, Sunny! I think it will help because I'm planning on baking another cake for next week for my husband, and I'm not too worried about it, at least right now. I know better now that I can handle it. I'll be interested to see if the anxiety is less.

      If I could, I'd have given you a piece! :-)

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  11. Hurray! Congratulations.

    I recently... made applesauce jello for a church potluck, and yes, I checked the ingredients of both the jello and the applesauce just in case there was a peanut product in them.

    I feel better knowing I'm not the only one aware of the fact that setting cracked eggshells in the sink leaves a contaminated spot (so does cracking them on the edge of the sink). :) I have also spent time staring at toothpicks deciding if I cooked the product with egg in it long enough.

    In short (or should I say in long, since I've written so many paragraphs in a comment?), I can relate to the difficulty of baking something for someone else, even though it isn't as high on my anxiety list (partly because I hardly ever do it). You did a challenging thing and succeeded!

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    1. Thank you, Abigail! I had to laugh because I stared and stared at the toothpick I put into the cake I made.

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  12. I hope you manage to bake another cake for your husband :-). I always worry if what I cook is okay but I don't do a lot of cooking for others due to my illness. I like the idea your churches have for cooking for those who have little to eat. I am glad you felt able to contribute even though it tested your OCD. I admire your strength Tina.

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    1. Thank you for your kind comment, Behind the Smile. I appreciate it.

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  13. Oh Tina, You have to make him one. You know, if you do it over and over, the fears will decrease more and more.

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    1. Jodi, I still plan on making him one this week. You're right--the more I do it, the less anxiety I should feel over it.

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  14. Congradulations for meeting your anxiety head-on and cooking!!!

    I don't like preparing meat. The faster it gets in the pot or pan the better for me. I also get rid of eggshells right away-either back in the egg carton for disposal when i'm done cracking eggs and then in the garbage or compost.

    I too, like to eat cake batter and even whipped eggwhites with sugar. I'm not worried about getting samonella myself, just about others getting it from something I did. I don't let DD lick the spoon after the eggs have gone into the batter.

    As for giving away food. I learned to cut a small sample for me, so i know how it tastes before giving it away. That saved me worrying about it in case something went wrong with it. That's because i had a few bad experiences when i was younger!

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    1. Karin, thank you! I don't like preparing meat, either. I worry about the germs. That's a good idea about sampling something that you're making for someone else.

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  15. Great job! The cake sure looked good. :-) Larry's comment at the end was funny...it's a good thing maybe that you don't use candles; I lit one once and Shep came in, sniffed, and said excitedly, "Chocolate cake?!" And I had to say, "No, candle!"

    I was a very unpopular wife for the rest of the evening! LOL

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