Thursday, February 15, 2007

Heartfelt Baking

Whew! I'm glad that V Day is over. It seems like I baked and baked and baked some more. I didn't bake this much for Christmas! It started with Monkey Boy's Valentine Market Project. His Gifted class hosts a Valentine's market to teach them about economics. They have to make something, calculate profit and market it with a poster. Monkey Boy and his best friend, Artist Boy, decided to make brownies and cookies. Have you ever tried to get two 10 year old boys to focus on anything?! Add Artist Boy's adorable little sister to the mix and you have a circus. To top it off, I have a really small kitchen, about the size of one in a typical NY apartment's kitchen. This is ironic because I cook a lot and never use caterers for parties, which I do about 4 times a year. I once prepared food for 75 in this tiny kitchen. One of my decorator friends and I have noted that the larger and more ornate the kitchen, the less likely it is that the owner actually cooks. He has installed kitchens for clients that are 20 x 40 and cost $100,000 into people's homes that can't even make toast. I have almost no counter top space so the washer and dryer, the coffee table and the dining room table become my counter space when I need it.
But I digress. All the kids wanted to be included in the cooking process which is challenging when making bake goods from a mix! So one child added the eggs, one child added the oil and the other added the water. Then one child would stir and then the next child would stir and so on. Finally the brownies and cookies were in the oven. We decorated them with Valentine sprinkles and wrapped them in plastic wrap.
Next task: Creating the poster. This involved a long, tedious discussion of what should go on the poster. Monkey Boy wanted monsters eating cookies, Artist Boy wanted to draw pictures of the cookies and brownies and his little sister voted for unicorns in pink. I suggested hearts. This was met with disdain from the male children. Hearts! Gross! I pointed out that it would be quick and they then could resume their earlier activity of pounding each other with plastic swords. They went with hearts. We quickly cut out hearts of various sizes out of construction paper and wrote pricing on them. After the initial battle of who was in charge of the glue bottle, which was resolved by finding a second glue bottle, the task was complete.

Yesterday, to continue the baking theme, I made a red velvet cake. This is a traditional Southern cake that is really a chocolate cake that has an obscene amount of red food coloring added, giving it a rich, red color. It's topped off with a cream cheese frosting. This is Monkey Boy's favorite cake. This is not a fun cake to make or clean up after because of the red food coloring. Get this stuff under your nails and you look like you've murder someone and didn't a good job of washing up after the deed. But the cake was just what Monkey Boy wanted, so it was worth it. And being a good dieter, I haven't eaten a brownie, cookie or piece of cake. Go me!

I love you Monkey Boy!!


Anonymous Stick Knits said...

Unicorns and Pink! How perfectly young girl! Loved your negotiating skills!

I bake a lot, and ya know, I've never known (Because I've never tried) what went into a red velvet cake. Now I know.

And yes, the larger, more ornate the kitchen, the less likely they are to use it. That's because when they think of parties they think that everyone gathers in the kitchen, which is true and when you have the party catered and the caterer is hiding out back in the pool house, you don't have to think about functionality!!!

9:25 AM  
Blogger ellie bee said...

I am amazed and impressed--valentine cookies and RED VELVET cake--that cake is like magic to every male I have ever known....
I love my kitchen--love memories of baking cookies, dying eggs, science fair projects...all the messy, fun stuff that ends before you're really ready for it too....

1:35 PM  
Blogger liv said...

you are brave. i think divorce is rotting my brain into making me do the precise opposite of most everything i used to do. i used to be THE cook, THE wine go-to girl, domestic goddess general. Now I specialize in hiding appliances, prepared foods, and tucking everything in general away. Gone are the days of glorious Martha Stewart creations, slow cooking southern food, and adventurous house parties punctuated by signature cocktails. who came in the night and amputated my williams sonoma?? keep it going sister, your monkey loves it!

7:23 PM  
Blogger Peach Pod said...

Definitely not a goddess. I do these things, frankly, out of guilt, not because there a song in my heart. I use to do these things for fun, but just can’t make myself now. For example, I usually throw a Chinese New Year party (I throw parties for Chinese New Years, Cinco de Mayo and the 4th to avoid throwing Christmas parties, which I hate to do) but just can’t make myself do it. The thought of giving a party makes me nauseous. I don’t have the will, energy or desire to do it. And at Christmas it was all I could do to put up the tree. The last think I wanted to do was decorate the house in my typical “Christmas Overload” manner. I really wanted to put up a tree, put lights on it and call it done. But Monkey Boy and his friend, Artist Boy, came down and started foraging through the boxes of decorations and the three of us decorated. Did I have warm fuzzy thoughts like, “It’s so nice to do this with family and friends”? No, I was feeling pissy on the inside because all I could think about was the fact that I would have to pack all of this crap away after the holidays. Guilt. Guilt. Guilt.

Here’s my favorite story illustrating my lack of domestic goddess status. I was ironing a shirt when Monkey Boy was 7 and he pointed at the iron and asked what it was! At 7, he had never seen one!

5:12 AM  

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