The ‘Traveling Cake’ and Other Cooking Disasters

Our Thanksgiving didn’t end until late Monday night, when the last guest was forced to head home in time for work. I loved having everyone over.

With grown kids pitching in with the cooking, naturally talk turned to some of the hilarious incidents while ‘learning’ to cook. My children have always helped prepare the food for special occasions, but their attention spans wandered off somewhere during the process. And I have proof.

Deviled Eggs: The youngest daughter loves them, so she lasted longer than the others in learning seasoning and proportions of ingredients. But she got bored with the actual stuffing of the eggs themselves and wandered off. Loving the way they look on the platter with their attractive yellows, whites and dusting of red, years later she prepared a tray at her grandparents’ house. All went well until her Pawpaw sneaked one. The man popped the entire thing in his mouth, and after about five seconds of chewing got the strangest look on his face.  Next I know the man is red-faced, perspiring profusely and trying his best to breathe while not spitting it out.

Guess he didn’t want to hurt his granddaughter’s feelings, because she stood waiting for his approval. He finally swallowed, fist to sternum.  “Well, what do you think, Pawpaw? Are they good?”

Between huge gulps of water and wiping his eyes he complimented the flavor, then added, hesitant, “But they’re a little spicy this time, aren’t they?” Rachel went through all the ingredients, and nothing should have caused that degree of heat. Until she got to ‘dusting’ the top. She hadn’t stuck around for the paprika. All these years she believed that sprinkling of red was cayenne pepper!

Strange Salad: I love my oldest daughter, but her blond roots run so deep, sometimes I fear she has cotton for brains. She loves salads, and learned to make a mixed garden salad from me that is a request at every get together. Everyone dished up huge portions and dug in. Didn’t take long before Strange Look Syndrome hit again, and people were moving things around in their mouths.

Almost doesn’t get it in the kitchen. At NO TIME may zucchini be substituted for cucumbers, I don’t care how much they look alike.

Never trust a man to stir: We were cooking at a daughter’s place, rushing through finishing touches to get the meal on the table. Football game was on TV. Homemade mac and cheese needed to be gently swirled as it heated in the oven and I asked hubby to please do that for me. (I felt safe. How can you do that wrong?) Attention focused on the game, why of course he didn’t have time to locate a spoon to use. In stead he grabbed the extremely sharp carving knife from the counter, yelling at the TV screen in time to his every enthusiastic stir. Finished, he shut the oven door and returned to the living room. I had no idea what he’d done until smoke started boiling out everywhere. Imagine a three gallon foil pan of mac and cheese — with all its milk, cream, three cheeses and butter coating the oven floor. (I’d never used foil pans before; it’s what I get for trying to cheat on clean-up.)

Several very nice Seabees rushed in at the screaming smoke alarms and lugged the dripping pan outside. Since they were nice enough to stand swinging the exterior doors back and forth to chase the smoke out we had extra guests for the meal, and daughter’s best friend met her future husband!

Fried chicken: My kids love it. But when you cook two whole birds and a ten pound bag of leg quarters, it’s time-consuming. Hubby decided to surprise me by cooking dinner for the kids. (They all promised never to misbehave again. All I had to do was never let him near the kitchen again.)

He started late, and like the old turkey roasting joke “If you have to cook it at 350 for four hours, just crank it up to 500 and it’ll be done in an hour and a half!”, he turned up the heat. There is nothing more unappetizing than burnt crusted chicken that’s raw on the inside.

Or more pathetic than kids expecting their favorite food resorting to milk and cereal for dinner. To this day when I mention fried chicken, they twitch and ask, “You’re cooking it, right?”

Traveling cake: My Aunt Mary came over while the guys were watching (another) football marathon, and everyone developed a sweet tooth. The problem was the guys wanted to eat it at halftime, and that was fast approaching. Making a cake from scratch is no problem, so I did. However, I had no powdered sugar to make frosting. But I did remember my grandmother making ‘boiled’ frosting with granular sugar; it comes out something like marshmallow, and flavored with vanilla really isn’t bad.

Everyone knows you can’t frost a warm cake.  But to meet the halftime deadline we tried anyway. It didn’t help the boiled frosting was still warm too. We were laughing hysterically as the entire top layer kept trying to slide off, first one way, then another. We resorted to wooden skewers to try to hold it in place. It wound up looking like some sort of primitive acupuncture experiment gone horribly wrong. Or an angry porcupine on Viagra. We laughed so hard the guys came to see what was up. First question from them?

A horrified, “Why’s it keep trying to crawl off like that?”

Aunt Mary stabbed it with another skewer or two, asking a falsely haughty, “What? You’ve never heard of Traveling Cake?”

Guess it wasn’t a total loss, because every now and then we get a request for “another one of those Traveling Cakes”.


13 Responses

  1. This post “Takes the cake” if I may be permitted to use a cliche!! LOVE IT> As a fellow deviled egg lover, I wanted to cry over the cayenne pepper incident. How tragic for the eggs as well as the eaters!! Such fun stories Runere!!

  2. Once again, you’ve left me with tears of laughter in my eyes! Love your stories!

    Okay, I don’t have blonde hair but I’ve nearly made the same mistake your daughter did…except I didn’t buy the ingredient I needed. Mom wanted turnips and I couldn’t find them until I found this little bin at the store with…brown turnips. Turns out they were rhubarb and uh, I didn’t buy them because the clerk didn’t know what they were except that they so were not turnips. I confessed to my mom who nearly died laughing. Did I mention this happened a couple of months ago???

    • Think we all have some sort of horror story! lol At least we can laugh about them!

      (Hmm, steamed rhubarb. Wonder how that would work out? LOL Who knows? Maybe you’re actually on the leading edge of a new culinary discovery!)

  3. I laughed till I hurt, because not like most of you I know most of her family. I an picture all of these things happening, and I agree… watching for the next victim would have been about right.
    I love going to Runere’s house,.. it’s lots of fun.. and the girl can throw down. IF you dont’ know what that means.. =she can cook. Love ya…

    • Why, thank you, gothicdweller! It’s been a while; might need to arrange something soon. I’m making it from the fridge to the counter without wobbling now, so it’s getting close!

  4. Love these! 🙂 Thanks for the grins! They remind me of *cough, cough* a few accidents my sister’s had in the kitchen. Like the time when we were little and she thought that white stuff that went into plain old regular frosting was flour, or the time she did the reverse cucumber-zucchini swap in zucchini bread. 🙂 Lots of fun times.

  5. Laughing, I just remembered something.. When we were young, my parents went off and left us alone. On tv they had a tv special on which was sponsored by Miracle Whip. Well my sister and I thought.. Lets surprise our parents with dinner and dessert. The thing is, we used Blue Plate Mayo instead because we didn’t use Miracle whip and made brownies. (hard as bricks) Needless to say grins.. parents came home to a house that stunk, and food not worth eating.. but the table was set for 2 with candles.. Their faces.. Kodak Moment. The memory.. priceless..

    • As a parent I can remember gnawing my way through some pretty inedible food just to maintain that wonderful glow on small faces. It’s THEIR turn to suffer now! *snicker*

      But weren’t we wonderful children to prepare our parents such treats?! Bwahahahaha!!!

  6. Hadn’t seen this column when it was initially posted, but since it was the ‘neighbor’ to the column I guested with, I kept seeing the title.
    Finally I broke down and read it.
    You have a way with words, gurl.

  7. Thank you, nice man! lol

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