One year, I got an Easy-Bake oven as a birthday gift, and my mother was actually perplexed when I wanted to use it. She told me that it made no sense, trying to bake little mini cakes on a lightbulb. After one or two uses, the toy mysteriously disappeared. So if I wanted to bake something, I'd have to resort to looking up the recipe in my dad's well-worn copy of "The Joy of Cooking" and using the real oven.
When the subject of baking came up, she would tell the story about how, for one of my birthdays, she labored over frosting a Bert and Ernie cake for an ungodly amount of time. The cake was, indeed, beautiful. But she always left out the part where the cake itself was made from a mix, and how the beautiful frosting tasted exactly like food coloring.
When the other kids' moms brought in cupcakes for their birthdays, I was excited. I love cupcakes. But when it was my turn, I begged and pleaded for Munchkins. Trust me, it was safer -- and better.
Then there was one time, in 7th grade, when I had to make some kind of dessert for a school project, and do a demonstration of how it was made. She actually had me make rum balls. I got in trouble. She thought it was funny. In retrospect, I'm surprised that I didn't get suspended.
In all honesty, there were a couple of things she baked well. Cream puffs and cannoli were her specialties. Actually, now that I think about it, I think she used pre-baked shells for the cannoli, and just made the filling. For her kids, she made really good M&M cookies -- mostly because the recipe was on the back of the package and it's pretty much foolproof.
Anyway, one of the best things about this hotel is that, every day, it puts out cookies for the guests. More often than not, they're chocolate chip, or chocolate with white chips. Sometimes they're coconut or peanut butter or white chocolate cherry. Today they were M&M cookies -- just like my mom's.
The M&M cookies are still my favorite.