My whole life (or close enough) I have had a deep, dirty, secret desire that nice Jewish girls from loud, screaming, immigrant families are not supposed to harbor: I want to be Martha Stewart. I want the house in Bedford and the dappled ponies and the perfect garden and the white on white on white house and the ability to churn out a perfect meal for the perfect occasion without breaking a sweat. Could such a feat be possible? Armed with this month's Martha Stewart Living I set out to discover if, following Martha's directions, I'd be able to produce foods and crafts as pristine and perfect as the ones made by Martha. First stop: A patriotic summer shortcake!

1) Martha probably would have approved of my going to Whole Foods at 9am to buy all my ingredients before starting. Martha probably would not have come home from Whole Foods realizing that she, uh, didn't buy any flour.

2) The first step of the recipe had the word "food processor" in the 2nd sentence. Uh, food processor? I ended up mixing my biscuit dough with a hand-held potato masher.

3) When Martha kneads her dough into a ball it probably looks like a ball. Not an amoeba like mine did.

4) Martha's kitchen is probably bigger than the backseat of a small sedan, as mine is. She also probably has counter space. And a rolling pin. I floured my counter and went at it with a tall drinking glass. Same difference, right?

5) Imagine my surprise when I realized that the recipe called for a crazy thing called a baking sheet. And parchment paper! I did not own a baking sheet. (Or parchment paper.) I did, however, have a frying pan.

6) Another thing I didn't have: A 2-inch star cookie cutter for cutting out the top pieces of baked biscuit for the shortcake. I did, however, own a butter knife. And a better-than-average artistic hand. Which meant I felt that cutting free-form stars out of the baked shortbread was good enough.

7) Now it was time to whip the cream! Martha did not say so, but I assume she thought that I had some sort of electric whipping device. While I (you guessed it!) didn't, I had something better: A whisk. And my friend Ryan!

8) Assembly time! My top layer fell apart completely when placed on top of the cream and berry middle layer.

The end result, below. Too bad I'm on a strict gluten-free, sugar-free, dairy-free diet, right?