Happy Veteran’s Day

November 12, 2008

Today is Veteran’s Day. That means that I take the time to make an amazing meal for my husband, a Vietnam Veteran. For the last two years, it was turkey tetrazzini. This year it was wide egg noodles baked in a casserole with fresh carrots and onion and cubed chicken in a creamy sauce, served with fresh buttered French bread. I have to go all out. It is the least I can do for someone who so bravely risked his life. I wouldn’t. I’d be the first one waving a white flag giving the enemy island, peninsulas, continents, whatever the hell they wanted. I’d be screaming like a schoolgirl going, “HAYAY, watchu want? Swampland? Desert? Mountains? I got ’em all. Right heah. They are good to go.”

You won’t catch me on a front line risking my life for anything. I wear a round yellow pin that says, “Yellowbelly” on my lapel. Maybe after a bottle or two or four, but sober? Never. I have the upmost respect and admiration for men who have the bravery to stand up for principles or for their country. Risking their lives for others? My God. Strangers, even. Goodness.

Four women today celebrated their birthdays at an old folks home and each of those ladies was over 100 years old. How horrible to have to lose those you love. I still think of my deepest loves. I wonder if they are right with me in another form. Invisible, intangible… or is it my fancy? Who knows? My husband has unshakeable faith. He KNOWS there is a God. My mom did too. I have been shown over and over just by the sheer fact that I am here, yet still I am ungrateful at times and doubtful. I wonder how many times my mom and dad have had to intercede for me with God so that I am not burnt up in a flash of lightning. I was so bullheaded that I would have lit a cigarette off that lightning and kept on going. What a fool. I am thankful that I am surrounded by others with strong faith, like maybe it protects me. My little mustard seed.

OK, so maybe my choice of dessert would not go over so well in another household. I was craving cake, it is a holiday so therefore, reason to bake one but maybe I should not have chosen RED VELVET. I love colors and their symbolism but maybe spilled blood on veteran’s day for dessert was not such a good idea. Then again, maybe it could be in honor of those who gave their life. I just know this would not have gone over well in public. If I keep my mouth shut, I wonder if anyone would even make the connection between the color of the cake and the reason for the holiday. I am going to see, maybe it is me reading too much into things. It probably is. Like I like to tell people who do it too, sometimes a banana is just a banana. Quit reading too much into things.

OK, nobody said anything about the cake being RED. My daughter and I played Scrabble and she beat me. Nobody has beat me for like 25 years and I did not try or something but she beat me. Then I said, “Let’s play again.” She said, “OK.” I said, “My first word is going to be formaldehyde. Then “consciencious” followed by “stethescope” and then “cow.” We had a blast. She has good taste in music, my little one. I wonder what it is like for her to discover groups like Black Sabbath and Metallica, stuff that has been around for ages. Then she knows “Ring of Fire” by Johnny Cash, which I had never heard of, or did but did not pay attention to. My husband walked in on us RIGHT after I had put on some OLD Pink Floyd, “Breathe” from “The Dark Side of the Moon.” I said, “I don’t know what the hell kind of music this child is listening to. Must be the friends she is hanging out with at school.” We laughed hard at that one because it was all me. I love doing that to her.


The Showdown

August 26, 2008

A dear friend of mine said, “Here, do you want some of this cake?” before I left his house today. I said, “Are you sure?” He assured me that if I did not help him out that it would go to waste. Wellllll, far be it from me to leave a friend high and dry so I brought a chunk home. Cake is nothing but love in sugar form. It spurred a desire in me to go ahead and try something.

I had tried a new recipe last week called “Banana Pudding Cake” where you add a box of banana pudding and mashed banana to the cake mix. It did not turn out well. The recipe said to bake at 350 degrees for 50 minutes. The aroma emanating from the oven was so strong that after 35 minutes, I couldn’t take it anymore and took it out. I was right; it was done, overdone in fact, and beginning to blacken on the bottom. “Well, there went that recipe,” I thought and scratched it off the drawing board.

My friend’s generosity gave me an idea. I had seen a recipe for an upside-down banana cake. “Well, why not combine the two and see what happens?” I thought. I put slices of banana on the bottom of a cake pan and added brown sugar then drizzled melted butter over the base. I then added the yellow cake mix with the banana pudding and bananas added into the batter. I put it into the oven for 35 minutes at 350 degrees. At the end of 35 minutes the top was browned beautifully but the middle was still fluid. I had to go to a meeting so I told my daughter to keep trying, not to check on it by opening the oven too much but to give it some time and to not worry if I ruined it. I told her that was not that expensive to try and sometimes we have to learn by making mistakes.

When I opened the door to the dining room, she smiled and said, “Mom, your cake came out.” I smiled back and said, “It did?” and it did, beautifully. Baked to a golden brown and flipped over to expose the golden brown sliced arcs of banana baked gently in a buttery brown sugar goodness the cake stood there in the light, the arcs forming little smiles saying, “Yea! I am a new creation and I am going to be good.”

Well, the first thing I did was have a cake-off. Yep, as spontaneous as spontaneous can be. I took the big chunk of pineapple cake that started this whole thing and cut it into three squares, one for each of us. Then I put a piece of banana cake next to the pineapple and took it to my husband. My daughter put a piece of banana on a plate and I put a piece of pineapple next to it while her back was turned and walked off with the plate at the same time she said, “Nooooooooo,” like an adorable Mr. Bill. Whoops, too late. I discovered that was her plate and her banana piece she had cut. She decided she was not going to participate in the cake-off.

So I made that disqualify me from having to serve her and she had to get her own plate then. I had such a hard time deciding which was the better recipe. I still can’t decide so I am going to take this to a picnic I have been invited to on Saturday and let the public decide. Pineapple upside-down cake will always be a classic as far as sugary, brown goodness is concerned, but this new banana-pudding upside-down creation is going to impress many, I believe, and compel people to make room on the table for this new treat.

My daughter said the secret to the cake is to lower the oven’s temperature. Here is the banana-pudding cake recipe. Remember to prepare the pan as if you were making a pineapple upside-down cake only substituting slices of banana for the pineapple before you put in the batter and you will have a new creation: a banana pudding upside-down cake.

Banana Pudding Cake

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 (18.25 ounce) package yellow cake mix
  • 1 (3.5 ounce) package instant banana pudding mix
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 cup water
  • 1/4 cup vegetable oil
  • 3/4 cup mashed bananas
  •  
  • 2 cups confectioners’ sugar
  • 2 tablespoons milk
  • 1 dash vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup chopped walnuts (optional)

DIRECTIONS

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Grease and flour a 10 inch Bundt pan.
  2. In a large bowl, stir together cake mix and pudding mix. Make a well in the center and pour in eggs, water, oil and mashed banana. Beat on low speed until blended. Scrape bowl, and beat 4 minutes on medium speed. Pour batter into prepared pan.
  3. Bake in a preheated oven for 50 to 55 minutes, or until cake tests done. Let cool in pan for 10 minutes, then turn out onto a wire rack and cool completely.
  4. To make glaze: In a small bowl, combine confectioners’ sugar, milk and vanilla. Whisk until smooth and of a drizzling consistency. When cake is cooled, drizzle icing over cake with a zigzag motion. Sprinkle chopped nuts over wet icing if desired.