Mar 29, 2013

Plowin' On Through

Sometimes I miss my children being small. When I think about the days when I could scoop them up and bury my nose in their little necks, the way their skin felt, how safe I always thought they were in my's easy to miss those days.  I comfort myself with the fact that they will give me grandchildren.  It's been a long wait already and those days are not yet in sight.

So I comfort myself instead with how much fun we can truly have now that they are grown.  Not only can we talk about the price of gas or eggs, but we are finally on the same side of everything.  There is no more hiding certain parts of reality from them.  If only there were!  More importantly, they no longer feel the need to hide certain things from me.  When you think about it, looking back, parents and children do a lot of lying (if only by omission) for the sole reason of "protecting" each other.  It's really silly but so far no one has come up with an alternate plan that ends with children being responsible adults.  Oh, there have been parents and children without these barriers, but they usually end up as a movie of the week.  Not my style.

This post is about some of the lesser secrets of life.  This post is about secrets in the kitchen.  Women are usually the sole conspirators, but the Lord knows that men are not immune, if they happen to spend much time in the kitchen.

Some of the best memories my daughter and I have (so far) is in regard to these secrets.  

When either of the older kids come home now, there is a flurry of activity with greetings and going here and there and catching up. Then we eventually drift to our natural environments, which with me is the kitchen.

The Beautiful Redhead and I had the best time making pies last Thanksgiving.  She left out ingredients and I spilled them all over the counter before we got them in the oven, but I told her not to worry.  "No one will ever know", I said.  "They have never questioned any kind of food I have given them in their entire lives, with the one exception being the time I sprinkled cinnamon over the chicken/broccoli/rice casserole instead of paprika", I said.  She remembered that and we had a good laugh.  That was the year I got bifocals, by the way.  heh heh heh.   But the pies were a roaring success that year, even if we did leave the evaporated milk out.  So if you ever "forget" the evaporated milk or anything, I advise you to plow right on ahead and dare anybody to be able to tell the difference.  My money is on you, my Wooden Spoon Brigade, and I am not even a betting woman.  I will have you know we served those pies just like we knew what we were doing.  And we had a bonding moment as I met my daughter's eyes while all her brothers were eating the pies without any comment except compliments. "Toldjah!"  my eyes said to hers.  "I can't believe we pulled it off!" her eyes answered.  We were in it together, come what may.

So with Easter coming and me being about chocolated out from all the recipes on Facebook last week, (what was the deal with that, anyway?!?!) I was dreaming of something fruity. I found this recipe jello ribbon cake.  It seemed simple enough, so we got started.

As we caught up on our personal lives the cakes were in the oven.  The orange one got done really fast. This was due, I believe, to it being in a glass pie pan, as I have only one round cake pan. I think I used to have another one but it got used in a sandbox or maybe the dogs ate it.  I forget the details. Forgetting the details is what keeps mothers sane.  I highly recommend it.  The cherry one overflowed and burnt in the bottom of the oven. "Do you smell something burning?" I asked, "It's the coffee" she answered. A few minutes later I took out the orange one and let her know the cherry one may be in trouble.  We mixed the filling layer, with me doing the steps and her reading it off, two or three times just to be sure, because this is how we left out the evaporated milk at Thanksgiving.  Learning from your mistakes is very important and a skill that I actively cultivate.  It is especially challenging when you forget details,  just one of the double edged swords of motherhood.  We got the filling done right. 

By then the cherry cake had quit smoking in the oven but it had, unfortunately fallen by the time it cooled.   "Oh well", I said, "we are going to paste this baby together with cream cheese and Cool Whip Frosting, no one will ever know the difference."  About that time the twins were cheering for some basketball team that was making them very happy indeed, and she just smiled.  March madness is a wonderful thing, especially if you don't follow basketball but need privacy in the kitchen.

The cherry cake ended up being able to be sliced in two.  The orange cake came out mostly in pieces, well, more like limestone layers, if you know what I mean. If you don't, you should be feeling superior right now because your cakes probably always turn out normal.  You are lucky if this is the case, but you also have no idea what you are missing.  Where is the challenge if your cakes turn out perfect? What fun is that?  You have no idea how much fun it can be to overcome these obstacles.

So we made a 3 layer cake, with extra filling between both layers.  We were actually starting to look forward to this cake. It did not look like much at this point, it was true, but we were sampling right along and everything tasted wonderful, so we plowed ahead.  I would have taken pictures but I haven't figured out if I can use the camera and the Chromebook together yet, plus I was too embarrassed.  It was all crooked and listing to one side pretty bad.  I could already tell we were never going to forget this cake!

The Cool Whip frosting is wonderful, as I'm sure you guessed.  You should make sure it's all the way defrosted. I don't know why they keep it frozen and it irritates me to death, but only because I have no patience.  I tell you now, IF you insist on frosting your cake too soon, it will smoosh the layers of filling out of the middle of your cake.  Oh, you can get (most) of it back in, but it takes a delicate touch and patience. This is why we have children, it turns out.  They will keep going while you lose your mind and open windows and complain about how hot it is, while drinking coffee.  I love my daughter.  I mean, I love all my kids but who keeps my secrets?  She does.  Who knows my objective when I am in such a state and works along like nothing is wrong?  She does!  Without her I would be lonely in a way that I cannot even begin to express.

By the time the twins were joyously yelling about "Kansas being out" (sorry about your bad luck, there, Kansas) we got the frosting on, threw some jelly beans on top, and it looked a little, well, amateurish.  But I never claimed to be a professional when it comes to cooking.  Never.  Not one single time.  Ever.  This is very important, in case you are making a plan for future disasters in the kitchen. You probably should be.  They come around on a regular basis.

Into the refrigerator it went, to set up (Lord hear our prayer) or possibly break down overnight.  Whatever else Easter brings, it will bring a very tasty if not beautiful cake.  "Don't worry", I said, "they'll never know", I said.  She just smiled at our beautiful creation.

I know that she will hear my voice in her head saying these words, comforting her and giving her strength to plow on through, all the days of her life.  With me or without me.  It's a family tradition.  One that I have no doubt she will pass on.  Someday.  Sigh.

Have a blessed Easter and never lose a chance to make a good memory. Some of my best ones involve what I regarded at the time as complete catastrophes.  Here's to making good memories.