Falling Flat

Did you watch Cake Boss? Or the Holiday Baking Championship at Christmas?

Me neither.

I tried Cake Boss but couldn’t do it, and not just because of Buddy’s New Jersey accent—because of the caliber of cakes these “amateurs” put out. It’s nothing I relate to. Same with the holiday baking show: I knew when the contestants threw together a cranberry meringue pie or a white chocolate, pear, and fig morning bread at a moment’s notice, it was over. Amateurs, indeed. But back to Cake Boss.

I’d love to learn cake decorating, and if my second attempt (see? I’m not totally unrealistic.) looked anything like the cakes on TV, I’d do it. And the beauty of being a glass-half-full person is that in my mind, my cakes would look like that, with fondant smooth as glass and roses so realistic your allergies would flare.

How I imagine it looking.

But here’s what would happen:

First, there’d be stacks of unfrosted cakes reminiscent of the Leaning Tower of Pisa that were too lopsided/stuck-to-the-pan-to-come-out-cleanly/homely-to-be-resurrected-with-frosting—your pick—to bother with. The cakes that were salvageable would be lopsided/homely when I was finished with them.

My fondant would look like a patchwork quilt and my roses would be mistaken for globs of frosting that dropped when the decorating tip fell off the bag. Oh, they’d taste fine, as long as you ate with your eyes closed.

How it would look. As you can see, I’d give up on the roses altogether.

But that’s not what keeps me from trying—what keeps me from trying is my family. They’re polite. To a fault.

I’m not sure if they’d encourage me because life’s just easier that way or if they’d genuinely desire being force-fed cake for the rest of their lives, but here’s how it’d go down:

My cake would sit magnificently on an elevated plate in the middle of the table—no dessert in front of the TV tonight!—like the turkey in that Norman Rockwell painting. Once it had been duly admired, I would cut it, serve it, and pretend not to see the sideways glances when they eyed Mom’s creation, their looks of pity and disbelief. I’d ignore their praise spit out in short bursts, belly laughs threatening to escape. But still, I’d know. A mother always knows.

So I’ll keep my cakes in my head, where they’ll always be perfect, and stick to knitting. Because I do a mean garter stitch.


(Images: CC:Flickr)

Linda, Row Your Boat Ashore

Okay, so there was no boat and no shore. But I still rowed this morning.

It’s supposed to rain this weekend in Southern California, which makes us natives want to cocoon and get all cozy—unlike our East Coast brethren who, at the prediction of more precipitation, are probably ready to book a flight out. Going anywhere.

Rainy mornings make me want to knit, bake, and drink hot tea. Too bad I don’t have a rocking chair—and hair long enough to stick in a bun, like that old lady in the Tweety Bird cartoons. I even set out butter to soften for a new recipe* from Pinterest.*

There were just two flaws in my plan.

One, it wasn’t raining this morning.

Two, I’d signed up for a 7 a.m. rowing class. A rowing class with a $15 cancellation fee.

So I pushed aside my fantasy of remembering where I’d put my circular knitting needles and drinking hot tea—I actually don’t like tea and would much rather have a Diet Coke anyway. The butter, however, was still softening.

The morning wasn’t entirely a bust, because I rowed my little heart out—and I mean exactly that. During a 500-meter sprint, I felt like I might have a heart attack (it’s not like I’ve ever had one for comparison—I just knew). On the bright side, it gave me something to think about as I rowed. Usually I spend the entire sprint with my eyes glued on the meter timer, simultaneously swearing at it for being broken and at the studio’s owner for shoddy equipment maintenance. And this morning what I thought about was how far away the fire station was, and how fast could they get there.

Ta-da! Over 7000 meters rowed!

Ta-da! Over 7000 meters rowed!

That’s the problem with being the oldest in a class of four—I will not be beat. Not by some 35-year-old punks, and not by my own traitor of a heart. So I sprinted those 500 meters and beat my last time by eight seconds. Eight seconds may not sound like a lot, but try this: grab hold of two objects equaling a thousand times your body weight then push them and pull them as fast as you can for two minutes. Puts mere seconds into prospective, doesn’t it? And maybe rowing isn’t equal to a thousand times your body weight, but still…

The rain is supposed to come later this afternoon. I still haven’t found those circular needles, and I still don’t like tea, and I put the butter back in the ‘frige because, well… Just because. But if we need to row out of a deluge, I’m ready.

*See “About Yours Truly” page. Sometimes new recipes from Pinterest just don’t work anyway. Why waste the butter?