The Good, The Bad and the Improvised

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04 Jun The Good, The Bad and the Improvised

Beet shoots one week in!

This shouldn’t be happening. There are few worms in this soil, the ground has grown nothing but grass for 40 years, and the great big maple nearby calls dibs on all the nutrients. In spite of this, the beet are beginning to sprout. A week into the Family Garden Project (or The Family Plot as one friend called it), we are seeing results. These little green leaves poking through the earth are not weeds. The line is too straight.

No, these non-weeds are the makings of beets. And even though I hate beets, I am thrilled to see progress in my mother’s quadrant.

Beans are beginning to sprout!

Over in my younger sister’s quarter? The beans have green shoots popping up through the earth. Maybe it’s the marigolds? Maybe it’s the rain? Maybe it’s just what happens when you stick some seeds in the ground and move out of Mother Nature’s way?

No matter the reason, these tiny green shoots give me hope. Because things did not go so well in my kitchen on Saturday.

Perhaps Murphy was trying to tell me not to make my own birthday cake. Perhaps Murphy was angry he could not derail Mother Nature. Perhaps I should have paid more attenton in physics class. Regardless, I created an issue my app couldn’t solved. After all, you can’t always predict these kinds of things.

For my birthday dessert, I was going to get all fancy. I was going to pile alternating layers of  booze-soaked cake and whipped cream high in a tall glass vase. Having seen a similar dessert in a cookbook, I knew such a fantastically high dish would require an equally fantastic serving method — say, a runcible spoon — but was willing to fuss  for the Wow Factor.

Note to self: You do not do Wow Factor very well. At least not that kind of Wow Factor. No, Charmian, you do this kind of Wow Factor.

This is the cake-coated rim of the chic, impossibly tall vase that was going to house my amazing dessert. It snapped clean off before I could fill it. How’d I do accomplish such a feat? Simple. Physics.

To make the layers of cake fit in the vase perfectly, I baked the cake in a 9 x 13 pan and cut rounds using the vase’s rim. The cake  was a good three-inches high. Light, moist and perfectly level. Six layers of cake with cream in between? Oh, what a lovely tower of trifle it was going to be.

After cutting six perfect rounds from the still slightly warm cake, I went to clean the vase, and here the perfection ended. Either the water was colder than I thought, or the cake was hotter. Or both. The second the water hit the vase I heard a crack and a half-inch of vase snapped clean off the top and launched itself into the sink.

And there I was, with a broken vase, six pathetic cake rounds and company coming in 45 minutes. Happy birthday, Charmian.

Mining the depths of my culinary skills, I addressed the situation by saying a Bad Word. Many times. I said this Bad Word loudly, then quietly, then loudly again. When Andrew came to see if I’d hurt myself, I explained by showing him the two pieces of glass and starting the whole cussing loop over again. Seeing no obvious signs of bleeding, my husband wisely backed out of the kitchen and vacuumed something. He says he was being helpful. I suspect he was drowning me out.

As Andrew vacuumed I improvised. My solution? Individual chocolate tortes.

Take that Murphy!

We will discuss the mystery of the Chicken That Refused to Cook another day. One disaster at a time, please.

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