Eat Cake by Jeanne Ray

February 14, 2012

The book, Eat Cake, arrived in the mail the other day, sent by guests of our’s, and I was eager to prop up my feet for several hours and digest it. But it was too late at night, and it has had to wait. But I read enough that evening to know that I wanted more, and that I could hardly wait till time allowed. Here’s a bit for you to bite into also:

Cakes have gotten a bad rap. People equate virtue with turning down dessert. There is always one person at the table who holds up her hand when I serve the cake. No, really, I couldn’t, she says, and then gives her flat stomach a conspiratorial little pat. Everyone who is pressing a fork into that first tender layer looks at the person who declined the plate, and they all think, That person is better than I am. That person has discipline. But that isn’t a person with discipline, that is a person who has completely lost touch with joy. A slice of cake never made anybody fat. You don’t eat the whole cake. You don’t eat a cake every day of your life. You take the cake when it is offered because the cake is delicious. You have a slice of cake and what it reminds you of is someplace that’s safe, uncomplicated, without stress. A cake is a party, a birthday, a wedding. A cake is what’s served on the happiest days of your life.

Now those are wonderful words. And if those weren’t enough to whet my appetite for more, then this sentence would be:

This is a story of how my life was saved by cake, so, of course, if sides are to be taken, I will always take the side of cake….
pp 2-3, Eat Cake

Bon appetit!

And yet another gift….

February 7, 2012

Think: peanut butter Easter eggs. That’s what the icing on these donuts is. Yet, it didn’t start out as a sweet story….I’d thought they were ruined.

I love being organized, having all of my little ducks in a row. And for a Sunday morning, when I have multiple things to do (including getting out the door by 7:15, with breakfast being completely ready for our neighbor to put on the breakfast table when she arrives), I especially love it. No, I need it. But oh boy, when fulfillment of need is tied to un-tied circumstances, that’s an ending to a story that’s anything but sweet.

So by the time I went to bed on Saturday night, I had everything laid out for the early morning: sweet potatoes cut, seasoned and in their teeny tidy, zippy zip-lock, crustless quiche baked, cut, and ready for re-heating, mixing bowl on the counter with dry ingredients for delicious donuts already measured, utensils laid in a row like little soldiers ready for battle, table set, list made for Neighbor Nancy. Before going to bed, I happily looked at my lovely arrangement and knew for certain: it was going to be an easy morning.

Oh. Brother. The higher one’s expectations, the lower she falls.

I woke before first light as planned, peacefully padded out to the kitchen and pushed the button on the coffee machine – also ready to go from the night before. Thought I’d begin with the donuts, so mixed them up quickly and popped them into the oven. Only glitch in the plan was that my oven timer began having issues the day before and I hadn’t had time to buy a new one. But. If I just kept my focus, and watched the clock, it would be no problem. (This was a problem – I get distracted very easily and have a history of forgetting things on the stove or in the oven. But never mind, it was going to go great.) I began cutting the avocados and the limes for the garnishes. Multi-tasking, I checked on the donuts a couple of times – just to be on the safe side. With everything humming along so nicely, I was feeling conscientious, content, and copiously capable. It was at that point when David entered the kitchen, per his usual routine, to get his coffee.

(A beat. Dragnet music in background.)

I began thinking about his coffee…, the garnishes, the next thing after that…., forgetting completely about the donuts getting done…and done-er. When I finally smelled a familiar brown-like smell, it smacked me like a sock in the snoot and I do believe, yes, I must confess, that I snapped a snarl at my spouse as I simultaneously shoved him out of the way of the oven door. “They’re ruined,” I hissed. He quickly and quietly exited the room.

I moaned about my mess. It was still early; I had plenty of time to make the donuts again, but this, as with so many things, was not about the donuts. It was not about David. It was all about me. Well, me and my donut dreams, that is. And as I said, I had fallen hard. I wanted to cry. How could this be? I’d worked so hard. It just wasn’t fair, and with my middle school mindset mashing into my morning, I stood there, un-done. (Unlike the donuts or David.) But it was what it was, as they say, so after a bit more moping, I picked up the knife to try to loosen the too-done donuts from the pan, in my move to mop up my mental mess.

Now I’d coated each of the buttered donut impressions in the pan with coarsely chopped white sugar. I rarely do this, preferring a glaze instead, but since these were to be the heavenly peanut butter frosted ones, I used the sanding sugar instead, almost as an afterthought. After a bit more loosening with my knife, I was able to take out the first donut. Hmm. It didn’t seem burned….or even too brown at all, once I felt it and got a better look at it. Hmm. Seemed more like it had a nice crisp crunch to it. Could this be?? Could they be OK?? A glimmer of light returned. I took out the next one – same thing – and the next and the next until they were all lined up on the plate, looking actually rather lovely, the sugar embedded into the molded circles like this was what was supposed to have happened all along. I thought, “What the heck?” and I smeared a healthy heap of the peanut butter happiness onto the first one. I picked up my small, sharp knife and cut into it, daring to prepare to taste it, with my hope continuing to rise. Easing it into my mouth, I ate slowly, and the heaven seeped through. I breathed; they were perfectly delicious as I had hoped: peanut butter crunch donuts. They were not as planned; no, but this creation was better! Oh. Dear. My myopic mania pointless, my mister-madness painful, but meanwhile my mouth was full of magic. So many gifts, and here was yet another. Deserved? Hardly. Thank you. Amen.

Location, Location, Location.

You might notice the WAC Administration Building cupola out of the corner of your eye as you walk onto Simply Bed & Bread's brick path, since our house is just a stone's throw away from the college. Or it might be the ...
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