Monday, October 29, 2007
Barefoot In The Kitchen
I'm at the library. I'm as uninspired to comment as I have been to write lately. But I have an hour. So what to do? Crazy idea strikes---blog! Huh? What's that? I think I've forgotten how....
Florida has been grey of late. The orchid above is the only spot of cheer I see when I look outside. I've been in a funk. Which only proves that if I ever tell you that, after a while, even sunshine gets old, I'm lying through my teeth.
Today is my F-I L's birthday. Eighty Five. And holding. What do you get for a man who's eighty five and has every thing he needs? I usually bake him a cake. Because he has a sweet tooth. But everything is measured against the Hungarian pastries and delicacies he remembers from his youth in the old country. Sometimes I want to scream "But you don't live in Hungary any more!" His particular part of the Ukraine was once part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, so as a child he learned Hungarian. Then it was taken over by Czechoslovakia, so he learned to speak Czech. And even though he loves America and has had a good life here, more and more ,as he older and older gets, he pines to be with his "own people." To die among them. And I understand. You can feel very isolated in this country. Children scatter. Curmudgeons get restless in too early retirement.....and go off and rectify the situation.
So even though he makes me crazy, is the grand daddy of all male chauvinists, and eyes me with suspicion because I dare to argue with him, when his birthday rolls around, I bake him a cake.
This year's effort is at home, cooling on the kitchen counter. It looks inelegant in its nakedness. The recipe said it would take thirty minutes to make. Hah! Only if your name is Emeril and you have a fleet of lackeys standing by to grind the nuts, measure the flour, whip the egg whites into a froth, beat the daylights out of the egg yokes in another bowl, then delicately fold it all together and pour it into the waiting pans, greased and parchment papered by yet another lackey. In a word, it took me all bloody morning. And the entire baking time was eaten up with the cleanup.
So when they kick me out of here, I'm off home to melt the chocolate. Which has to be combined with an obscene amount of confectioner's sugar, some strong coffee saved from this morning, some coffee liqueur,and a few teaspoons of vanilla extract. This will be the dress the finished cake will wear to cover its present nakedness. But before the dress goes on some heavy cream has to be whipped into submission and laced with some instant coffee granules and plastered between the four layers I will have when I cut each layer into two thinner layers.......Oh lordy! I don't know how I get myself into these pickles.
When I go for the nightly visit I will not want to be hearing "But it's not like the cakes we had at home when I was growing up....." Of course I wouldn't hear that until he'd at least tried it. Neither do I want to hear in a few days that it upset his delicate stomach and he had to go to the doctor.....
Since he can be charming, and was well brought up by his mama in the old country, he'll probably say "Thank you" very graciously and I'll say "You're welcome." Then we'll all have a slice and with a little luck no one will keel over clutching their throat and I'll be off the hook for another year.