I asked my mom for a recipe for rolled filo dough cheese pie, taking notes while on the phone with her. After we finished the conversation I looked over the recipe and realized what I’d written didn’t look at all like a recipe my mom would give.
To my credit, I noted all the ingredients correctly – eggs and cheese, oil and yogurt, but their quantities meandered from cups to grams to coffee cups (which are not the same as U.S. measuring cups), sprinkled with, ‘the way you like it’, which eventually merged into the final word of precision wisdom, “you know, not too thick and not too runny’.
Mom, I don’t know. And you sure have more faith in my culinary abilities than I do. I thought to myself and before I hung up, I promised I would let her know how the pie turned out.
I followed the general directions that surprisingly enough gave rather promising results, but just as I was about to slip the pie into the oven, I realized I don’t know either the temperature of the oven or the length of baking time.
I glanced at the Celsius/Fahrenheit chart that's attached with a magnet to the side of our refrigerator, noting that 200 degrees Celsius is approximately 400 degrees Fahrenheit, before I called 'mom-to-the-rescue' hot line again.
Mom, what temperature is the oven supposed to be at?
It was a simple question for which my head allowed only two possible answers – numerical answer one and numerical answer two - representing the same value expressed in either Celsius, or Fahrenheit. What I got wasn't even in the ballpark.
What do you mean 'what temperature'? It’s the same temperature as when you bake a cake…
A cake??? When I bake a cake, which is like never, I set the temperature at what the box…. I stopped before I could make fool of myself any further, and decided to showcase my limited baking knowledge.
No, no! That’s too hot. You don't want to turn it into charcoal. I told you, just like when you bake a cake…
Alright, I got it, I said, making a mental note to check with Betty Crocker on the cake baking temp.
For how long? The time is measured in minutes, hours, days and weeks on both side of the ocean so I thought I was safe.
How long???? As long as it takes! You need to keep checking it while it's in the oven until it gets nice and rosy, like rosy cheeks.
I stand there, the phone in my hand, realizing that between my multitasking English and Serbian, Celsius, Fahrenheit and timer, I’ve lost something important, and not just in my culinary skills.
I am so grateful I still have my mom, who, without even realizing, not only taught me how to bake a pie, but recovered the precious lost and gave it back to me.