So, you've just entered into a cake baking competition where the stakes are epic and the competition is fierce. Sure, you'll get a little bit of trial and error for the first four months, but then it quickly becomes one-and-done... assuming you're good enough to reach the tournament in January, that is. No more room for mistakes by that point; Lose and you go home.
Got your apron on?
This ain't your grandmama's baking class, my friends. There's no pride in trying your best, there's no award for coming close, and there's no trophy for second-place. There will be blood and there will be tears. Clear eyes and full hearts? Child please. More like a death stare and a heart that's as cold as it is dark.
Winning is everything.
Competitors enter the buying season each year with varying ingredients already on stock, as the competition essentially runs on a four year cycle. Some start with bare cupboards each year (due to failures in previous years); some start with enough ingredients to be competitive without additions.
But being competitive isn't a winning recipe in and of itself. It's not enough. Do not make the mistake of thinking you can stand pat and win it all. Everybody has needs, wants and a missing ingredient or two.
To increase parity and ensure stiff competition, everybody gets the same amount of money to spend on ingredients. And everybody gets seven coupons to use in May for additional ingredients at a reduced rate. That is, unless they've already squandered those coupons in previous years, trading them away preemptively.
Now, your particular cupboards are in good shape. You took second-place last year, and so you've still got many of the ingredients needed to win as is. But just like everyone else, you're not without need. You're fresh out of money to buy things on the open market, and all you've got left is those seven coupons to use in the May Auction.
Now go bake me that MF cake using the BPA process. "Best Prices Available", that is. Go into that May Auction with your seven coupons, primarily looking for bargains, and let me know how your cake turns out.
Go ahead and get cute by using your first two coupons on the sprinkles that you see at a good price. Yaaaaaay, you! You may have gotten a steal on the pretty little pink and green thingies, but now you're down to the fourth-round of the auction and you still have no baking soda. Good luck, my dude!
Sweating bullets yet? You probably just squandered your chance to hoist the trophy. Get the tissues ready.
Are you sure you really want to spend your first-round coupon on some sprinkles when you've already got sprinkles? Sure, those sprinkles could help you down the road if your current sprinkles end up going bad. And sometimes that does happen. But you know you need sugar.. you only might need more sprinkles.
Sure, those sprinkles might come in handy in future years, but you would get use out of baking soda right now. And in future years. Important to note is that all of the ingredients have the same shelf life of four years. So, why buy more sprinkles that you'll only get two years of use out of, instead of the baking soda that you would have used for all four of those years?
Friends, bakers, Suzie Homemakers.. How good of a bargain did you really get when your "better" sprinkles sat in the cupboard for two years, whereas the slightly less attractive salt would have impacted your cake immediately?
Truth is, it simply does not matter how great of a deal you think you got on your sprinkles. You needed salt and baking soda, and now you're unlikely to attain those final winning ingredients. I assure you, you will not care about the good deal you supposedly got in May, not when it's still sitting relatively unused in your cupboard when you lose the competition in January. You needed salt, not sprinkles. And it probably cost you the win.
You don't have the luxury of setting up your cupboards for the future if it comes at the cost of baking your current cake without salt and eggs. Don't get crazy, don't get cute. Build your cake the right way, and don't forget the salt.
Now go bake me that MF cake, Martha Stewart!