Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Lamb Cakes, Writing Deadlines and the Dark Side

On Friday S, E and I made lamb cake from scratch using an old cast iron mold discovered at an area estate sale last summer, and a recipe from E's Girl Scout leader who claims it's been in her family for generations.

The recipe's the real deal, one that uses five egg yolks, five egg whites whipped for what feels like forever into a stiff froth, an entire cup of sugar, Crisco--yes, I learned this product still exists--and real butter.

After the lamb cake finally cooled, we freed it from its mold. I must have been too rough with it though, because its head promptly popped off followed by its two tiny ears. Since our end goal wasn't the presentation of a sacrificial lamb at Easter dinner, I performed surgery, reattaching everything using toothpicks and frosting for glue.

About the time the cake was looking like a proper lamb again, my sister called from Phoenix. I told her about our adventures in making lamb cake, and mentioned that we were getting pretty low on the good jelly beans for decorating our creation (my girly girls prefer the pinks and pastels), but should have enough for what we need.

"Not sure what we'll do with the black ones," I said. "Maybe I can put them aside for Dad." My dad loves those.

"Black?" B said. "Don't give them to Dad. They're perfect for the lamb cake."

She was quiet for a few beats, probably waiting for me to catch up. I'm thinking black jelly beans? We're already using chocolate chips for the eyes and they look pretty darn good.

About the time I realize she's lost me, B pipes in: "Lamb poops. They're perfect for lamb poops."

"Lamb poops."

Not that I'm overly religious or anything, but Easter's one of the big holidays for Christians and this cake was supposed to be a representation of THE Easter Lamb incarnate. So, imagining black pellets--jelly beans or otherwise--piled next to its backside and then serving said cake for desert on Sunday just wasn't computing. Not at first anyway.

Before I could say anything pithy or otherwise, B said: "Put your girls on the phone." I could hear the smile as she issued her command.

My two youngest girls love a good fart joke; so you can imagine what they thought of Aunt B's idea. They huddled around the phone, nodding and whispering, and then burst out laughing so hard that S nearly dropped the phone trying to give it back to me, and E--she was a lost cause. She practically needed to leave the table in order to catch her breath.

Hearing my girls shrieks and belly laughts was enough to sway me over to the dark side. When I finally took the phone back, B said, in her droll, off-handed way, "If anyone complains tell them it's my contribution to Easter."

Deal," I said, and that was that.

Sunday I told the story of Aunt B and the Lamb Cake. We shared more than a few good laughs, and I was reminded that's what family's about--laughing, scratching, good times, and stories like the one about Aunt B and her lamb poops to come back to when someone we love needs a pick me up.

Appetite for writing: Ravenous, even after a weekend replete with spiral ham, hard boiled eggs, black jelly beans, mixed green salad, and--erm--less than perfect lamb cake.

On deadline for:

Edge of the Forest--the April edition is due on cyber newsstands this week. Contributions from yours truly: an interview with best-selling author Lauren Myracle about her writing life, and a survey of working children's writers nationwide about what they're reading and why.

Critique group--my next installment of KM is due in J and A's hands by Monday next week the latest.

edited 4:59 p.m.

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