Since my recovery, I've managed to keep the unspoken promise to myself not to let my fear keep me from enjoying life ... in athletics, anyway. Baking is another matter. When a close friend and her boyfriend recently moved to the Bay Area, they asked if they could commission me to bake croissants. And despite all those shiny new "carpe diem" resolutions posted in my brain, I immediately laughed off their request. Homemade pastry? Are you kidding? Mind you, I didn't have past croissant trauma -- I was simply too afraid to even try.
The disconnect only hit me weeks later, as I was dressing in the morning. I reached down to pull a sock over the new and impressive 4"-long crescent-shaped scar on my ankle, my skydiving badge of honor. And then I realized that I was more eager to hurl myself out a plane thousands of feet in the air than I was to attempt homemade pastry dough. It is an odd thing to realize that one's fear of failure surpasses one's fear of bodily injury. Odd and rather pathetic. Both humbled and inspired, I decided to sail forward into the Croissant Sea, knowing full well that the potential for failure loomed ahead. But after one false start, I managed to figure it out -- thanks to a fantastically explicit recipe and the support of my loved ones.
--> Get recipe here
This recipe yields rather small but absolutely delicious croissants. They passed both of the two very important tests administered by the original requester and her guy. She grabbed one end of the crescent and tugged, revealing the soft, almost feathery interior, and proceeded to eat the thing a few layers at a time. Her boyfriend immediately took a large bite, yielding the satisfying "light crunch" sound that only comes from eating flaky pastry, and a smile that took up approximately 30% of his face. Plus, it made my house smell like that of the witch in Hansel and Gretel (read: heavenly), and gave me a renewed sense of power and purpose.
So the next time I get the urge to cower at the prospect of a challenge, I know exactly what I'll do. Instead of having to glance at my grisly scar, I'll simply pop one of my (now frozen) croissants into the oven, enjoy it while it's almost too hot to eat because I can't wait for it to cool, brush the crumbs from my face, and proceed boldly into the face of danger. If it works out, great! If not, at least I've got a freezer full of croissants.
--> Get recipe here