Use That Shiny Baking Sheet, What Are You Waiting For?

Life is short. Eat, drink, and try to be merrier.

A batch of freshly baked cookies on a new baking sheet
Photo: Karl Tapales / Getty Images

There are several baking sheets in my kitchen, all with varying degrees of use. Some have years of baked-on grease from oven-fried bacon and reheated pizza while others still show glints of the shiny silver they used to be. One of them still looks brand new though. It lives at the bottom of the stack of the other baking sheets protected by a layer of parchment paper. On the rare event it does get used, it is first swaddled in aluminum foil like a gesù bambino, trying to preserve whatever the baking sheet equivalency is for "new car smell." It wasn't handed down from generation to generation. This baking sheet has no particular significance other than it looks newer than the other ones. And the only reason it looks newer is because it doesn't get used because I want it to stay looking new. It's a stainless steel Catch-22, but lately I've found myself rethinking about how often I use that shiny baking sheet.

It seems like every day, there's another news cycle about a privilege or right that's being stripped away from people. Or there's record-breaking heat or intense flooding somewhere in the world. There's inflation, there's war, and there's too many things to watch on TV. It's all so much. What if the world ends and as my life flashes before my eyes, all I'm thinking about is how I never really used that baking sheet? What am I saving it for? Life is short and we need to take advantage of every opportunity we have. I vow to start using that baking sheet. Give me the chance to blanket that metal with so many layers of grease that no scouring pad or lemon juice and baking soda concoction will ever succeed in making it shine again. A baking sheet has one purpose and I am standing in its way. If that baking sheet could talk it would say, "Use me. Choose me. God, I'm a baking sheet and a baking sheet gets baked."

Have you ever gone to another country and purchased a condiment that you can't get anywhere else? If there's an unopened three-ounce jar of $25 mustard in your pantry that you bought on a trip to Paris a couple of years ago, use it. It's not doing anything for you sitting next to rice cakes and canned cannellini beans. You deserve that tangy delight! Open up that mustard and spread it on your next sandwich. Stop worrying about what kind of special sandwich you'll make and where you might procure the perfect loaf of bread. Let the mustard make the sandwich special. Believe it or not there's a mustard shortage in France right now. You could probably sell that tiny jar of deliciousness on Ebay for more than you paid for it, but I say turn an ordinary ham sandwich into un sandwich au jambon extraordinaire. Vive la vie!

Let tomorrow be the special occasion.

If you have a bottle of expensive bourbon you've been holding on to for a special occasion, let tomorrow be the special occasion. You don't need to save it for an anniversary or a birthday. Celebrate Wednesday because you've made it through half of the work week and that deserves something. Life is a challenge and we need to recognize it. We are worthy and it's time to normalize celebrating small victories. No traffic on your way home or your subway car didn't smell like the inside of a boot? Hurray! Honor that and pop open that pricy bottle of prosecco and serve it with a hamburger if you want to. Seriously, I've done that and it made the hamburger taste so much better.

It's easy to get overwhelmed these days and our mental health is taking a worse beating than an egg on its way to becoming an omelet. When it feels like we have less control over the world around us, it helps to concentrate on what we can control. If we think of our life as a circle, maybe it's time we make the circle a little smaller. Focus on our homes and our friends and the things we care about. Lasso those things and people closer to you and it's easier to enjoy them. Look in your kitchen and find a simple joy. Maybe it's a thin slice of birthday cake in your freezer or some saffron in your spice rack that will provide you that blip of bliss you didn't know you were missing. If I can start using my precious looks-new-but-is-not-new baking sheet, you can take a bite of that chocolate bar your friend brought you from Costa Rica two weeks ago.

Life is short. Eat, drink, and try to be merrier.

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