(At left “It’s Just Little Old Me” who baked this cake!)
Before my aunt and uncle** were married, my uncle announced that he was going to bake her a cake for her birthday. The family was pleasantly surpised that this young man thought so much of my aunt that he would do something very out of the ordinary and go so out of his way. The birthday came, and he brought the cake to the party. It was beautifully frosted. It was hard to believe that the quality of the job came from a mere spatula!
My aunt began to cut the cake, and as she pressed the knife in, she remarked:
“Wow, this cake is so light! Is it angel food?”
She cut all the way in and then the mystery was revealed! It was a sponge cake. Literally. My uncle had frosted a large sponge as a joke. Luckily, the whole family thought it was the best joke ever. He also brought a real, edible cake that wasn’t as light and airy. To this day, the family still talks about that cake from over 35 years ago.
Do you have any good family “baking” stories like that?
(** Not the same uncle of the “chocolate chips in a cup” fame)
I used to love getting the tableside “Caesar Salad” making service. At some upscale restaurants, usually Bananas Foster is another dish that is made tableside. You might not expect someone to come to your table and make drinks, however.
When we were kids, there were occasions that much of the whole family would go out to a restaurant. It may be after a funeral, on the way home from the fair, or whatever the case may be. Somehow, the parents allowed myself and a few of my cousins to sit at a table together against their better judgement. We were not bad children (so we say). We didn’t run around. We were the kids who were more likely to be “a little too quiet.” Inevitably, though, there would be culinary creations emanating from our table. Yes, even at a Big Boy’s restaurant there was enough to work with. All of those tantalizing caddies of additives and jellies awaited us.
My brother always ordered a glass of water with lemon, and then would confiscate the lemons from everyone else, not proud to ask at the “grown up” tables as well. He would take the sugar packets lined in their little caddy, too. With sugar granuals liberally littering the table, he squeezed and mixed his own lemonade. Usually, it took half a glass of tasting to get the ratio of sugar, water, and squeezed lemon wedges just right. He would then declare his creation a masterpiece and pedal his wares to the several tables our extended family took up.
Oddly enough, he got few special orders.
Here is how hand squeezed lemonade is supposed to go:
1 cup sugar (white. No fancy schmancy stuff or your lemonade is going to be awfully crunchy)
6 cups of water
6 cups cold water
Squeeze the lemons, pour the juice in a pitcher, add the sugar, and stir in 6 cups of cold water. If you really rather prefer your water temperature not be dictated to you, and you like warmed over lemonage, go for an alternative temperature. If you think that is not enough sugar, just go to town, but it will surely be to your taste and not mine.
Actually, since the ratio is 6 to 1 seems to be the golden mean of lemonade, maybe my brother was actually not so far off. If he combined all the lemon slices and it added up to one whole lemon, I could imagine he could dump enough of those sugar packets to make approximately 1/6 of a cup of sugar.
On the way home, we crashed in the car due to not only the ratio but the sheer volume of sugar that was consumed through a straw througout the evening, even though our breath and hands and sleeves smelled as refreshing as lemon scented Pledge. Our parents didn’t need car air fresheners. When you are doing this level of experimenting, you drink your mistakes.
There are many websites devoted to the preservation, mutilation, and transformation of Peeps, but not much to say about Skittles. Yes, Skittles; the candy that announcers so haughtily demand for you to “TASTE THE RAINBOW.”
This command was a little more humble when Skittles were first introduced during my childhood. Someone was probably just HOPING we wanted to try them. To be accurate, Skittles were originally a British candy that was introduced in the United States in the early 70s, which was slightly before my time, but they were not made in the US until 1981, or 1982. Thus, the marketing that went in to targetting children who would want to eat them did not commence until then. My brother and I were some of the children who were sucked in by those various ploys. I do believe they hit the drugstores counters of rural Wisconsin long before the commercials did, however. Click Here to enjoy an 80s Skittles commercial. What a dull world we would have lived in without them.
I always knew that my brother would have some sort of culinary destiny. What his creations lacked in artistic “plating,” they transcended many levels of daringness and creativity. In 1984, I think it was, on a snow day, a sick day, or a vacation day – my memory is foggy now – he first set his mind on the idea that Skittles could be so much more. It perhaps was not until 1986 that his idea became a reality. When our family got a microwave oven, his true muse was found.
I think the microwave was a JCPenney brand, if I am not mistaken. Perhaps the last in our extended family to jump on the trend bandwagon, we had been spared from owning the most giant of microwave ovens of earlier years (which really defeated the purpose of being smaller than a regular oven). At any rate, that dial was turned to thirty seconds and the rest was history. Little did we know that there was shellac in the American version of Skittles, and if we knew we probably would not have cared.
There are many recipes floating around on the web and in books, involving making M&M cookies or cupcakes, and then substituting Skittles. To my brother, that would have just been amateur hour.
The tangy smell of melted skittles mixed with the heady aroma of chocolate is still in my mind to this day, for better or for worse. It all occured on top of several paper plates. Luckily, there was no incident of fire or destruction, other than destroying his inhibitions of combining tangy, tart, and chocolatey all in one creative expression.
I have to admit, in editorial honesty, that we never actually did eat the creation. The Skittle “shells,” if you call them that had cracked and broken and the gelatanous innards had oozed together with the chocolate. The effect was similar looking to ”melted crayons and chocolate.” I think we were a little afraid it was all quite radioactive.
My Uncle passed away a year ago, and I really miss him. He definitely was someone that God really broke the mold on, and I never quite knew anyone else like him. We talked about saving money alot, and he thought I wasn’t cutting corners enough, and I wasn’t afraid to tease him about some of his frugal adventures.
One in particular I remember well. He would never buy a candy bar, because it was much cheaper by weight or volume to buy a bag of chocolate morsels. I have fond memories as a child eagerly eating a handful of those. It was a way for my parents to give me chocolate without me eating the whole big bar, and I was happy with that. My uncle did me one better. He drove around with them in a paper cup in the cup holder of the car and ate them as he drove.
That seemed pretty sweet, until he realized that chocolate morsels, because they are used in baking, don’t have any extra coating to prevent them from melting in your hand. The car in the summer had the aroma of chocolate, which seemed custom made for a foodie, until you put your hand down and got melted chocolate all over it.
I guess, in the end, it cost him more, as most of the chocolate was rendered useless, unless we went to get an ice cream and then dumped the cup over it, and saved the 50 cents to a dollar twenty five disparity between a bowl of ice cream and a hot fudge sundae. Deduct the cost of driving around looking for chocolate morsels, and all we gained was an adventure, not the savings he set out to gain!
The following information is provided as a public service announcement and not as an endorsement of any said practices, nor encouragement to try this at home.**
I was typing away, and I heard out of the corner of my ear the dismebodied voice of Ted Allen talking about exploding grapes. Of course, as this was a subject of interest to me, I emerged from my office to see what it was all about. It was a show where this very idea was put through its paces. Of course, as you know from my post about Skittles, a show like this would have been a mere dare to my brother and I as kids.
Apparently, after further research, as I missed most of the segment, grapes do indeed go through a freaky metamorphisis in the mircowave. Somehow, the liquid-like center of a grape does not agree with the technology.
On Wikihow, the subject was deemed so rediculous that regulars threatened to have it pulled.
One user replied:
I’ve done this before. It does not damage the microwave in any sort of way, and exploding is definitely the wrong word for what happens. All it is is the water in between the two grape halves is excited to the plasma state, and creates what appears to be a large fireball rising up through the microwave. However, there isn’t enough energy to sustain the plasma-state and by the time it hits the top of the microwave chamber, it will turn back into ordinary water. It’s not dangerous, and it is actually an interesting bit of a time-waster with good science behind it as well.
So, would anyone recommend actually intentionally doing this to make some sort of grape spread for cucumber sandwiches? I would be afraid that the grapes would be in such a microwave induced altered state that it would be a secret ingredient for a potion in a classic horror film. (There was no mention of Frankenfood grapes reacting differently) At least that’s my opinion.
The actual article writer states some words of wisdom:
This might not work on the very first grape you try. Try it plenty of times before giving up.
If it still doesn’t work, you may need to move it to a different spot in the microwave. Some microwaves have “hotspots” that are exposed to more energy than other spots, so you’ll be trying to find one of those.
The writer also instructs that it works best if you slice the grape slightly.
So, the actual intent was to “successfully explode a grape” and not really a word to the wise to help you AVOID IT.
Oh well, we have stopped using our microwave, but I imagine I am going to have to make sure my brother doesn’t read this because he’s going to see an unused microwave as something that just “calls” to him.
My brother is coming to town! I haven’t seen him in about two years. We live far apart, but when we get together, we are like two little kids. We just laugh and laugh. Often, we ill pull out a trivia game. More often than that, we will commandeer some very regressive game like Chutes and Ladders, even though we are 25-30 years older than the 3-5 year old “target age.” Out now is a ScreenLife Disney Bingo Game. We haven’t played a game as interactive as that in a long time, which means there will be plenty of harrassment from eachother if there is any technical illiteracy.
But, I am ready for him. I was just thinking of the Disney videos we sat through when we watched our little sister, and I was thinking of all the different cooking scenes in the movies that I really didn’t pay attention to then, but somehow are stored in my brain. So without further ado…
Top 15 Big Food Moments in Disney Films
(In My View Anyway)
(In Backwards Order)
15) Dog Bones get eaten in ‘Oliver and Company.” Not too earth shattering, but I felt it didn’t feel right unless the list was 15 and not 14 items
14) Ratatouille. Okay…now that one’s out of the way. Next.
13) Bambi eats grass. It may sound gross. He talks, but he is still a deer, remember!
12) Pinocchio and Gepetto are Whale Food.
11) Marlin and Dorrie are Whale Food.
10) Obscure, background-filling “Salt and Pepper Shaker” characters in “Beauty and the Beast” are turned into bigger character roles with solo dances in the Broadway version of “Beauty and the Beast.” Collectors wonder when the commemoratve Beauty and the Beast Salt Shaker salt shakers come out. They are sorely disappointed because they only come out with figural “Beast and Belle” salt and pepper shaker sets and not replicas of the actual Salt and Pepper Shaker.
9) Spaghetti Dinner for Two in “Lady & The Tramp.” Woulda put it closer to the top of the list but its predictable.
8 ) Ariel drinks the Kool-Aid. Gets Legs.
7) Fish are Friends, Not Food in Finding Nemo
6) Sebastian almost becomes crab cakes in “The Little Mermaid.” Chase ensues
5) The most famous bitten Apple since Adam eve. Snow White Bites Down.
4) Dumbo gets liquored up. Is this in the new PC edits of Dumbo or do they label the XXX bottle “Mountain Dew”
3) The Fairy Godmother’s Bake a Cake for Aurora (Sleeping Beauty). They don’t really bake it. It’s raw. And they use any cups and mugs they have to measure it out. Sounds like me.
2) Mrs. Potts pours Belle a cup of Tea OUT OF HER OWN HEAD. Gross!
1) Ariel combs her hair with a fork.
Yeah, the Dinglehopper! I think is the oddest and best Disney food related moment. My mind is strange, I know. So if you think I am an oddball…what are your top 5 favorite Disney Songs, Movies, or Moments?
Well, brush up on all the names of these movies for when you grab your own Disney Bingo. You can snag yourself one at Drugstore.com. Amazon surely has it too. We’ll have a tournament against eachother.