THE SONIC BOOMER
Last weekend, at my daughter’s house, I tried to bake a cake.
It wasn’t easy.
My daughter is one of those environmentally conscious health nuts who will live to age 125 while driving the rest of us crazy. She won’t have anything in her pantry that isn’t organically grown, earth-friendly and sustainable — which means everything in there is a soft shade of brown. And while most of the people I see hanging around in health-food stores look kind of gray around the edges, Jen is svelte, energetic and a good advertisement for doing things her way.
So I tried.
I got my recipe out of the box and tried to find ingredients that sort of matched up. Ha!
First of all, there was no Crisco for greasing the pan. All right, I’d use margarine.
There was no margarine, only butter. The butter was hard as a rock, but that was OK. I had time.
Next I needed flour, but there was no white flour, only whole wheat pastry flour. Pastries, cakes — the same but different? I had no choice but to try.
Sugar? There was only the light brown “raw” (unrefined) kind.
Now my recipe called for milk, but there was no milk. Jen buys the kind from “happy cows,” not the kind I usually buy, which I suppose is from “disgruntled cows.” But the lack of milk was my own fault — I’d had a bowl of cereal that morning. Still, I figured there would be some kind of milk substitute in the pantry.
Wrong. The only thing I found in there was coconut milk. Well, milk is milk, right? I got out the can opener and opened it up. Hmm. Evidently coconut milk looks a lot like Crisco. I wish I had known that earlier. I squinted at the instructions on the can, which told me that some settling is normal. I stirred it up and poured it in — plop! — as if this library paste was milk.
Remembering (too late) that my son-in-law hates coconut, I hid the can at the bottom of the trash, then had to fish it out again because it was supposed to go into the recycling bin. (My argument that prisoners should be torn away from their TV sets long enough to sort the recyclable items out of my trash always falls on deaf ears. They could get hurt sorting trash. Better that I do it.)
Now I needed to pour the conglomeration that was to become the light and fluffy yellow cake for which I am famous into a cake pan. I wanted to spray the pan with cooking spray first, but my daughter doesn’t believe in it because the fluorocarbons in the spray may further damage our ozone layer. I was pretty sure WD-40 was out. So back to the butter.
Due to the pantry treasure hunt, it had taken me about an hour to get to this point, but I finally was able to shove the thing into the oven, sit back and wait for the results.
The mixture seemed to take longer than usual to bake, never rose to the description of “light and fluffy” and came out (understandably) looking kind of brown. But how did my pastry flour/raw sugar/coconut milk taste?
Like cornbread, that’s how. It looked like cornbread, too. So I had two choices — slather it with the chocolate frosting I’d made or cut it into squares and call it cornbread. So I cut the cake in half, frosted one half and served the other half with supper, in a bread basket.
Everyone was thrilled — and none the wiser.
When life gives me lemons, I make organic lemonade.