Tete-a-tete ArchivesAn eclectic sampling of my award-winning humor columns. New columns can be read online at www.nashuatelegraph.com on the first Thursday of the month, with columns posted here later in the month.
More in "Tete-a-tete"
- Tete-a-tete: Newsboys reunion concert elicits a nostalgia suckerpunch, yet reminds that awesomeness does not change
- Tete-a-tete: When it comes to cat toys, sometimes there are strings attached
- Tete-a-tete: Youngest Brother finds a hobby thanks to 'The Great British Baking Show'
- Tete-a-tete: Evolution of a football fan, or why I'm looking forward to Super Bowl LII
- Tete-a-tete: Younger Sister's penchant for staying on schedule never takes a holiday
- Tete-a-tete: Grandpa had a 'Wonderful Life'
- Tete-a-tete: Streamlined technology makes it easier to come home for the holidays - unlike when I was in college
- Tete-a-tete: Terrifying toys make childhood memorable
- Tete-a-tete: The pitfalls of dining out as a slow eater
- Tete-a-tete: Pop culture references lead to unexpected connections
- Tete-a-tete: "Handicapped accessible" doesn't really mean what people think it means
- Tete-a-tete: The ins and outs of the college moving experience
- Tete-a-tete: When dealing with cabin fever, this cat's on a roll
- Tete-a-tete: An artistic masterpiece 20 years in the making
- Tete-a-tete: Promp and circumstance: Modern-day prom prep
- Tete-a-tete: Blue Apron - a Pandora's box of weekly culinary adventures
- Tete-a-tete: Serve up a slice of family traditions, new or old
- Tete-a-tete: 'Family court' has a whole new meaning at our house
- Tete-a-tete: Drafted on the farm: Grandpa's war at home
- Tete-a-tete: With family, you have to give it the ol' college try
- Tete-a-tete: Walk a mile in my Boots: Viva la feline difference
- Tete-a-tete: Slacker movies offer unlikely heroes
- Tete-a-tete - Bag that theory: Purse contents aren't all that enlightening
- Tete-a-tete: Keeping up with the pace of modern-day elder care
- Tete-a-tete: Easter dinner reveals a shocking family secret
- Tete-a-tete: Time flies when you forget to change the clocks
- Tete-a-tete: Here in New Hampshire, we don't take voting 'for granite'
- Tete-a-tete: An Eagle takes flight in another family milestone
- Tete-a-tete: When choosing heirlooms, cross your Ts and dot your ... claims
- Tete-a-tete: Even the best-intentioned Christmas traditions can fail to take hold
- Tete-a-tete: How to enjoy a wedding, even if it's not your own
- Tete-a-tete: A tale of unintentional cat ownership
- Tete-a-tete: Admissions about the college admissions process
- Tete-a-tete: Avoiding car-tastrophe while purchasing a new vehicle
- Tete-a-tete: As American as apple pie: U.S. culture, through other eyes
- Tete-a-tete: The geek gene runs strong in our family
- Tete-a-tete: Grieving entertainment losses with a few simple steps
- Tete-a-tete: Parents, do not give your child the name equivalent of the April birthstone
- Tete-a-tete: Memento or clutter? Don't leave that decision to the historians
- Tete-a-tete: How Mom and Dad saved Christmas (and a hamster)
- Tete-a-tete: Having trouble keeping your New Year's resolutions? It could be "If You Give a Mouse a Cookie" Syndrome
- Tete-a-tete: When Christmas starts before Thanksgiving (a reflection on temporal discombobulation)
- Tete-a-tete: Sizing up a new family pet, or the difference between a cat and a hamster
- Tete-a-tete: When your worst fear comes true
- Tete-a-tete: Family game night can leave you drawing a blank
- Tete-a-tete: When you have a really good reason to skip class
- Tete-a-tete: The downside to the world's most flattering bridesmaid dress
- Tete-a-tete: Say it with flowers - just don't say where you got them
- Tete-a-tete: Shockingly true tales of my Herculean, heroic great-grandpa
- Tete-a-tete: For goodness 'sakes - generational namesakes can confuse
- Tete-a-tete: Confused by the weather? Signs spring has almost sprung
- Tete-a-tete: Seeking the Holy Grail of a universal bridesmaid dress
- Tete-a-tete: Love poetry gone bad, or why I'm still not allowed to use matches
- Tete-a-tete: A traveler's guide to the Big Apple
- Tete-a-tete: Feats of strength aren't just for Festivus festivities
- Tete-a-tete: Change comes from within - sometimes, literally
- Tete-a-tete: Car games: from punch-buggy to punching cell phone buttons
- Tete-a-tete: I mustache you a question about costume practicality
- Tete-a-tete: Functional furniture is making my family dysfunctional
- Tete-a-tete: Jungle Speed board game can bring out the beast in you
- Tete-a-tete: To call it a ‘mooving’ ride would be inaccurate
- Tete-a-tete: When saying ‘sweetheart’ just won’t do
- Tete-a-tete: Eat your heart out, Festivus: Stymchastynchula is here
- Tete-a-tete: Hoping Korean music can explode in the U.S. with a K-pop
- Tete-a-tete: Holidays, especially with Grandma, are always colorful
- Tete-a-tete: Sometimes, it's the grilled cheese that makes the memories
- Tete-a-tete: Still recovering from Dad's forays into home education
Tete-a-tete: Youngest Brother finds a hobby thanks to ‘The Great British Baking Show’
Over the past few years, I have developed a talent for finding binge-worthy shows on Netflix and getting the rest of the family sucked into them. Often, the only result is hours of entertainment, but my recent discovery of “The Great British Baking Show” has led to tangible benefits for 20-year-old Youngest Brother.
If you have not had the pleasure, “The Great British Baking Show” features a dozen talented amateur bakers vying to be named the U.K.’s best. Each week, the show’s judges, renowned cookbook writer Mary Berry and top artisan baker Paul Hollywood, assign a new set of challenges to test the bakers’ skills.
With the exception of the final week of competition, which is among three remaining finalists, one competitor is eliminated each week and one earns the distinction of being that week’s star baker. The tension is diffused by the wonderfully dry observations of hosts Sue Perkins and Mel Giedroyc.
What makes “The Great British Baking Show” so delightful to watch is the attitude of the competitors. Though all of them want to be the last baker standing, they want to win because they baked well and proved they deserved that honor rather than because others baked poorly and were eliminated.
There seems to be a genuine air of camaraderie among the bakers. They cheer each other on, sincerely compliment each other’s work, offer comfort over the judges’ criticism and even lend a hand if someone else is in trouble. It’s quite refreshing, especially when you’re used to competitive cooking shows like “Hell’s Kitchen.”
When I first began watching “The Great British Baking Show” on Netflix, there were no takers among the family. I eventually converted Mom, who found it absolutely enchanting after she realized it wasn’t an instructional cooking show.
Enter Youngest Brother, home from college on his winter break and looking for quality time with the family and a quality viewing experience. Quickly swept up in the British baking awesomeness, he found one competitor particularly impressive: Andrew, a 25-year-old aerospace engineer.
In the course of a single episode, Andrew modified his rolling pin to achieve a more uniform thickness of dough, used the word “tessellate” properly and constructed a three-dimensional gingerbread scene according to detailed schematics he drew up himself, accompanied by a checklist that allowed him to track the status of all his gingerbread components.
Youngest Brother, a second-year electrical engineering student, was inspired.
It must be said that Youngest Brother is no stranger to the kitchen. He started cooking as part of Boy Scout campouts in elementary school, and in high school, one of his merit badges required him to plan and prepare three days’ worth of meals for at least two people.
I was one of the beneficiaries of the fruits of his labor, and I still remember the tuna salad he made that had shredded cheese and raisins in it. Youngest Brother, please consider this my official request that you make this again the next time you’re home.
His cooking skills fell by the wayside during his first year of college due to his dining hall-based meal plan and adjusting to the rigors of the electrical engineering major, so last semester was his first time being responsible for his own meals. Regrettably, he wasn’t able to do much advance planning on that front and ended up getting by on cereal, instant ramen, and smoothies purchased at a beverage stand on campus.
When he came home for winter break, he had hopes that perhaps he could recalibrate and get organized enough to eat better next semester, but given how stressful his course load was looking, he wasn’t very optimistic.
And then, he watched Andrew bake a set of savory, hot-water crust pies inspired by a da Vinci spiral. The gear-shaped pies were of different sizes and presented on a series of platforms in such a way that when he turned a mechanism, the pies all rotated like an interlocking set of gears – and they tasted wonderful, too.
If Andrew could accomplish such an incredible feat of pie engineering, why not Youngest Brother? At the very least, he felt confident he could manage more than instant ramen and was excited to explore the possibilities.
It helped, too, that Mom and Dad were supportive of his culinary aspirations. A few days before he went back to school, they reminded him of a cookbook of simple recipes they had given him when he started college and took him to Costco to stock up on easy-to-prepare staples like tuna fish and oatmeal.
Youngest Brother expressed a desire to pick up some ingredients for baking, so Mom suggested they stop at Sauders in Seneca Falls, NY on the drive back to school. It was his first time in what is essentially the Mennonite equivalent of Walmart, and he was astounded by the variety of spices he could buy in bulk – and their very reasonable price tags. He may be the only student on his campus whose post-vacation move-in involved huge sacks of flour and brown sugar and a tub of apple butter.
Cooking has now become part of Youngest Brother’s daily life as well as one of the ways he manages stress. In addition to making his meals, he’s made apple streusel muffins for his friends and a pumpkin Swiss roll for a party. He’s become quite popular at his on-campus job (everyone loves a good and generous baker), and his roommate even bought him an apron.
Should anyone try to convince you that there are no benefits to binge-watching a TV show, please feel free to present Youngest Brother as a binge-watching success story. Thus far, there have been no negative effects.
Well, except for his tendency to speak with a British accent while baking, but that’s a consequence we’re willing to live with.
– Teresa Santoski