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Zepeda: How to find forgotten fun

Published: Thursday, Oct. 17, 2013 5:30 a.m. CDT

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Trapped in an endless cycle of Netflix catch-up? Wondering how Bryan Cranston’s bald head managed to soak up nine hours of your weekend? I remember when I spent only half my day in front of a computer screen. Those were fun times, the early 2000s.

I say it’s time to free yourself from your entertainment obligations and find some actual fun.

For me, liberation comes one Saturday night out of every month. The conditions must be perfect: an empty house, a fully stocked cupboard and a charged iPod.

What? I have friends to amuse and homework to finish? I think not. Tonight, I am no longer Kurt. I am master chef Kurt.

Baking requires a certain state of mind. For some, they prefer a composed and tranquil kitchen in order to make confections. I, on the other hand, favor Smashing Pumpkins blasting in my ears while I scramble around like an obsessed treasure hunter trying to find my brown sugar.

I would deem my baking experience inadequate without particular elements.

Enter the antique onyx Kitchen Aid standalone mixer with three speed settings: one (sleeping turtle covered in molasses), two (snail pursued by an enraged turtle drenched in molasses), and three (an oil slicked boulder rolling down Mount Kilimanjaro). Outdated and covered in a heavy coating of chalky flour, this broken down mess reeks of beauty.

Next, I present you with the stainless steel Kenmore Elite oven. Capable of transforming mush to masterpiece, I have learned to respect this unique tool in the Zepeda kitchen arsenal. Fiery, sleek and sexy, some say that this breathtaking machine reminds them of me.

Lastly, my legendary tattered apron completes my bakery ensemble. Some say that the stained beige strands should be preserved for future study. Others want to frame it and display it across the country. Splattered with almost every single batter known to man, this apron has trudged through every gritty recipe by my side.

Now, the time comes for combining all the ingredients. Here’s a trick to making incredible desserts: double all the unhealthy parts and block out that nagging feeling of regret.

This next part gets complex. Pop the oven open and slide whatever delicacy you threw together into that magnificent bit of metal. Keep in mind that saying tender words of encouragement every few seconds does make it taste 10 times better.

After waiting for that divine chime of the timer to resound, allow your masterpiece to cool off. Or, if fingertips don’t suite you, descend upon it.

By the end of Saturday night, if the house remains standing and I have consumed well over the healthy amount of sugar, I will consider it a success.

The real trick to encountering enjoyment is to discover new forms of expression. Don’t possess an ounce of artistic like qualities, but still want to paint? Go for it Picasso- in-the-making. Screwing up happens to be half the fun.

• Kurt Zepeda is a St. Charles resident and a senior at Marmion Academy in Aurora. He enjoys running, writing and the occasional confection. His column runs every other Thursday in the Kane County Chronicle. Contact him at editorial@kcchronicle.com.

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