Cooking SuccessfulLee with PenPal

Last weekend, I had to go to New Jersey for a thing, so of course I stayed with Penpal and her family. I’m not really sure why this happened, but it was A Good Idea. Penpal flew back from Houston because homegirl is wicked intense, and we planned for a fun weekend. And by “we planned,” I mean I said “hey, do you want to learn how to make croissants?” And she foolishly agreed because she had no idea what she was getting into.

Around this time, Penpal was commissioned to do a monthly cooking segment for Forever Young Adult called “Cooking TragicLee”. She had me watch her video before publishing, seeking feedback, and since “OMG I LOVE THIS” was not particularly useful criticism, I also shared it with Bright Contradiction, my local cooking partner in crime. Like me, BC thought it was the Greatest Thing Ever, and she is not wrong:

BC immediately demanded that we document our New Jersey croissant making extravaganza, and penpal agreed to the scheme. I packed a camera and a couple of ingredients I had lying around the house and headed north.

Penpal picked me up from the train station on Friday night and drove me back to her parents house. Even though we are in fairly constant communication via snail mail or the internets, we’d only met once before. Sadly, there are not clear social rules dictating how you should act when visiting your epistolary friend and her family, so things were kind of awkwardly formal, like that time in Anne of Green Gables when Diana first comes over for tea and gets drunk on “Raspberry Cordial.” (side note: recipe idea for your cooking show, Penpal?)

But being a naturally awkward person, this didn’t bother me too much. Plus, Penpal’s parents are really, really lovely people. Even if her dad is kind of like the paparazzi and there are now about a million pictures of me and Penpal that could be featured on Awkward Family Photos:

The next morning, as we were lazing around after breakfast, I had to break the bad news:

Penpal: So should we get started on the croissants? 

Me: As they will take about 8 hours, yes. 

Penpal: 8 hours?! 

Me: Give or take.

So we went to the store, grabbed the remaining ingredients and got started. I was too lazy to look up my recipe, so we kinded of winged it. We ran into several technical difficulties, both with the filming and with the cooking. Penpal’s mother was extremely unsupportive of the entire endeavor. Every once and a while, she would sail through the kitchen, horrified by the mess we were making of her countertop, and say something like “You know, you can go down the street to the bakery and buy croissants. They’re very good,” or “You’re still not done yet?!” or “I think you should give up now and go drink mimosas on the porch.”

But we persevered. Croissant-making involves a lot of waiting around, so we filled the hours in between with chatting, drinking beer, and playing board games. We discovered that Operation is an infuriatingly difficult game, even as adults (how are you supposed to get the ankle bone attached to the knee bone? HOW!?), and I decisively crushed Penpal and her younger brother at Settlers of Catan. I felt really bad about this because they were all friendly and non-competitive about the game, and I’ve been conditioned to play ruthlessly by people who will temporarily break up with their significant other over a bad move. Eventually, however, the waiting was done and we finished baking.

Lucky for you, you get to watch the process unfold in mere minutes rather than hours:

To prove the worth of our 8-10 hours of baking, we organized a blind taste test of our product versus the bakery versus Pillsbury in a can. Drafting Penpal’s parents and brother for the task produced hilarious results:

And now if you’ll excuse me, I have to go check the expiration dates of everything in my fridge.

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