Friday, October 31, 2008

Two Halloween Mishaps

Well things are not so smooth over in our household regarding Halloween prep.

Last night I decided to do a cake for a party we are going to instead of leaving it until Halloween Day to make. I know that cooks always say don't try a new recipe for company but I always have and never had an issue. Well last night I did.

It is a new recipe in a cookbook I've never used before. I checked our pantry and made a short list of items I needed. I went shopping yesterday but forgot the list at home. When I got home I began making the cake. I then realized a key ingredient was missing. I phoned my husband who was leaving work shortly and asked him to get the ingredient on the way home.

As I started to make the cake I realized that the cookbook has an odd layout. For example it called for slivered almonds, oven toasted then pureed into a powder. However it didn't tell how to toast the almonds, for how long and at what temperature. I winged it and they almonds were fine.

I needed orange zest and there was none at the grocery store. So we made handmade zest. The zester thing kept slipping and I cut my hand and scraped it in other places. Husband took over out of pity.

The text in the cookbook is very block-y. The paragraphs are not divided nicely, the text is small and jammed in. It said, "add all dry ingredients". I forgot to add the almonds as I was thinking of the typical flour, salt, baking powder and baking soda.

After I put the cake in the oven I realized I never put in the chocolate pieces. I removed the cake (6 minutes into baking it) and stirred them in. About ten minutes later I discovered I never put the toasted almonds in. Oops.

The cake was in a bundt pan. I added some homemade orange syrup to the cake in the pan when hot as directed. I waited ten minutes as directed then tried to remove it from the decorated Bundt pan. It was greased and floured as directed. The bottom half of the cake flopped out. I told myself if I could get it to look halfway decent I'd coat the whole thing in confectioner's sugar to hide the breaks and still bring it to the party. I tried to loosen up the cake from the pan but it was not easy due to the fancy fluting decoration. The rest of the cake came out in chunks. Maybe it was due to it being different due to it lacking some nut powder/dry ingredient. Who knows. Entire chunks were out and the thing looked horrible. No amount of confectioner's sugar could make the cake look better.

I decided to bring the cake to a family event this weekend as family won't mind eating a delicious cake from scratch even if it looks ridiculous. The cake is a Grand Mariner cake.

So first thing this morning I set out to make a cake I have made many times, a Boston Cream Pie. It has three different things to make and assemble, the two layers of cake, the pastry custard and the chocolate sauce. It came off well. Thank goodness.

Next up was pumpkin carving. I have three, one for each of my kids and one for me. We picked out our designs. I had to steer the kids away from too complicated designs such as a Death Star from Star Wars that the tutorial said would take ten hours. Ten hours! Next older son picked an eye of a dragon from Eragon but it said it takes 4-10 hours. I also realized I didn't have metal clay tools which it called for. I have regular plastic and metal pumpkin carving tools and kitchen knives.

Older son is old enough to do this himself but he barfs at the smell of pumpkin. So I am still doing all the work for him. Younger son helped me by poking the holes to transfer the pattern to the pumpkin.

I carved younger son's pumpkin. It was harder and more tedious than I thought. My hands ached.

I carved older son's pumpkin. The lettering was tedious and it almost broke in the fragile places. Almost. My hands were throbbing and I considered not doing my own pumplin today. Older son insisted on putting it outside immediately, even before I took a photo. While on the front porch he dropped it and the front smashed out partially. It then rolled off the porch onto the ground and fully smashed. He broke out in tears.

I tried to console him by saying he could have my pumpkin and I'd re-do it. However my hands were killing me so he would have to do the pattern transfer part. He is doing that right now and by some miracle he is not barfing. This is proof to me that his ability to barf on command and to claim that smells make him barf is now at least partially psychosomatic and part of his stubbornness. So I caught him! Whether it was intentional or fully psychsomatic I don't know but he is dealing with the pumpkin and not even gagging or complaining.

I had the thought today that celebrating holidays with traditions is important. However I'm feeling the extent to which our family sometimes goes ends up taxing me and heavily relying on me to do the bulk if not all of the work. I'm starting to resent it and that is not good. I can't complain too much as next up is Thanksgiving and my husband loves to do all the planning, shopping and cooking. Then for Christmas he does the same thing with the food and meal and even sets the dining room table. It is all the other holidays including children's birthdays that fall to my shoulders and is definately exhausting.

Still on the 'to do' list for today is sweeping the front porch, doing two small sewing projects to fix a wardrobe malfunction with my older son's costume and finishing up that third jack o'lantern.


Kim said...

The cake and the pumpkin probably would have had me in tears. The kids and I would have been sobbing on each other.

I cannot imagine dealing with a kid who can throw up really easily. It seems to be right up there with fevers--just one of those things that is so unpleasant you assume things must be really bad. If he can use vomit as a technique to get out of something, you can bet he's really determined. And determination is a good character trait, right?

I did not decorate last year, and we did not do pumpkins this year. When we do pumpkins, we still do boring old Jack O'Lanterns. The kids get to mark the face and have to help clean the pumpkin out (we have fun scooping out pumpkin guts and then reclaiming the seeds for toasting). I had no idea those fancy, carved pumpkins could take hours!

It sounds like you'll be busy today. I hope you find a good in-between spot for the work next year that allows you to feel the accomplishment of delving right into the holiday without any burn out. Considering I've never made a cake from scratch (ever), you know I'm already in awe without even adding the second project and the fancy pumpkins!

christinemm said...

Kim thanks for commenting!

I have not cried. It takes a lot for me to cry!

However right at this moment I'm starting to feel overwhelmed. I checked the calendar and sure enough this is PMS time when I sometimes get that bad feeling that too much is going on. I say this now not really due to Halloween but also the weekend plans just got changed due to a relative and now we had to rearrange our whole weekend to accommodate THEM. So now I have full plans from Sat morning to Sunday at bedtime. No relaxation is happening, then that is leading in to our once a month early Monday morning class that I have to go through rush hour traffic to get to. So it wasn't an easy day here and now I have a crazy three days in front of me.


Now the barfing. This kid has some sensory issues with smell. He smells things that others don't smell. He has numerous times, barfed when carrying the little compost bucket outside to the compost bin. He can barf right at the dinner table, all over it, just by my asking him to take one bite of a new food. I could go on and on with the stories.

After eleven years of that I"m getting worn a bit thin on it. He has that and some other sensory issues that IMO are not severe enough to warrant a Sensory Integration Disorder diagnosis. But I wonder if the barfing when I want him to taste something is self-induced.

Jessica said...

Oh my, so much! Reading about your pumpkin adventures makes me so glad that our kids were content with 1 pumpkin this year. I cannot bake a cake in a fluted pan to save my life, the only thing I've been able to do is monkey bread in it and that's not supposed to be perfect looking anyways.

I hope the party went well even with the crumbled, delicious cake. :)

Dh and I aren't going to review the English Bible, whatever it is b/c he just had surgery and I don't have the background to review it.