Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Taking the Cake

I made a great announcement in our home this past week. I called an official end to caking!
“This is my last one!” words my family has probably been silently holding prayer meetings about for years. The statement had barely escaped my lips and I heard the collective sigh of relief from my support team. Deservedly so, I have put them through great bouts of emotional turmoil in the name of cakes.
It wasn’t always this way (they will tell you different if asked; evil is a more readily accessible memory recall over happiness). In the beginning, a few hundred cakes ago, I enjoyed the challenge of creating edible art works. This is how I remember it anyway. Time, patience, creative freedom, a complete absence of technical hiccups (fantasy is also an easier recall than reality) Perhaps the reasons behind the joy of those early cakes was the more personal and inspiring nature. I began with birthday cakes for my own kids, then cakes for the children of friends. Thus began the progression of self-taught cakery. Birthdays, showers, anniversaries, open houses, weddings, if there was an occasion I had a cake, real, fake, cupcake, cookies, you name it I could pipe it!
I have heard that a person’s patience lessens with age; I struggle against the notion but I so wonder if the increasing demands on my time are not taking a toll on my patience. Rushing and cake creation are not great bed fellows. Couple this lack of time and patience with the phenomenon known to every cake artist as “cake nightmare” (cakes that get dropped, melt, change colour, bubble, ooze, sweat, bleed) I’ve had enough. I probably had enough about 3 years ago but I have only recently learned the finesse of saying no. As a result I find myself alone in the kitchen, sometimes cursing and swearing at piping bags and uncooperative patterns, colours, roses, leaves and anything else that fails to yield to my bidding. My family cringes at the thought of me in the kitchen with cake these days. I recognize it, I feel it, I cringe too!
So the word is “I don’t do that, it’s not fun anymore.”
Many people who have enjoyed my cakes wonder how I can just walk away. These people only understand good cake they don’t get cake anxiety. Here is the best explanation I can give for the level of discomfort the pastime causes me at the present time…. When I made the announcement that I was creating my very last cake, Kate quickly proclaimed “ok, but you still have to make my wedding cake.” Teenagers thrive on inflicting undue stress upon their parents. I can think of no greater stressful situation and Kate pounced upon it.
So I opt out of future cakes, for now. Not because I don’t love you all and your need for cake but because one day my kids are going to get married and I would love to make their cakes…without medication.
Here’s a look back (I made cakes, I didn’t take pictures…ever) just a couple shots…

The last cake

The First Cake

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Planning a Dinner Party

There is Dinner Party planning in the works in our home. Cookbooks are scattered, lists are strewn about with items added, scratched off and re-added. There are too many menu options, too many guests, dietary restrictions and lack ok desserts. One party has been separated into 2 parties and now the need for two menus exists.

"Planning a dinner party is hard work!" words to live by as spoken by my Becky. 16 years old and hosting her first ever dinner party! A gift to her friends for Christmas, rather than purchasing gifts for all, she will have them all in for a home cooked dinner. Her menu, her groceries, her cooking. My kitchen. I can only pray that her guests are the type to assist with clean up but I fear for the worst.

What began as a single dinner party has morphed into 2 separate events for 2 separate circles. Now we have two menus in the planning stage, one with vegetarian options both with cheese. This is not like "Dinner Party Wars" that fabulous reality show on the Food Network. Becky will not be traveling to other homes for dinner but my kitchen, I am certain, will resemble a war zone.

I have promised to help her choose an affordable menu and I have also promised to stay out of the way but close enough at hand to offer "help line advice" and quiet the smoke alarm. That wasn't a slam, Wolfgang Puck could cook in my house and the smoke alarm would go off, its poor architectural planning.

I'm excited for Becky, I was about the same age when I prepared my first diner for friends. There is a great future of fooding ahead for her and a great lesson in the reality of dishes!