Monday, August 4, 2008

Attention to Detail

"Attention to detail can mean the difference between success and some @$$?#*! yelling at you and ruining your morning."

In my past equestrian life I spent some time as a working student for Jim Wofford. While that name probably means bugger all to foreigners of the horse world, he is a renowned world-class rider, trainer, and coach. Many of his sayings have stuck with me throughout the years, mainly because they are amusing, but also due the the fact that most are applicable in everyday life. The above quote is one such example.

I suppose everyone is entitled to their own pet-peeves. One sure way to get on Woff's nerves was to leave the light on in an unoccupied stall. I avoided breaking this barn rule by simply never turning my horse's stall light on to begin with, yet the "attention to detail" point was inevitably and very audibly made whenever another poor soul left a stall light on and subsequently suffered Woff's rant.

Let's consider for a moment the importance of paying attention to details when baking. My vanilla extract deficient pound cake is a prime example. The cake batter was already mixed, poured into the pan, and in the oven baking away before I noticed the bottle of vanilla and clean teaspoon sitting on the counter next to my mixer. By then it was too late. I knew the cake would be bland so I wasn't at all surprised when it didn't get a ribbon in the County Fair nor sell in the auction. Since it was left, I decided to bring it home. We each had a slice of cake after dinner last night, and while the texture was fine, there was no flavor whatsoever in that poor pound cake. Oh, what a difference a teaspoon of vanilla extract makes!

Undoubtedly there are times when "don't sweat the small stuff" may be the ideal modus operandi, but I would argue that in culinary arts, attention to detail can mean the difference between success and a pound cake only fit for use as a sticky paperweight.

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