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recent failures

Failure One: Mousse

I made a cake for my co-worker’s birthday. Specifically, this Chocolate Overdose Cake. I’m not really exaggerating that the cake has made me something of a legend at the office. (And, perhaps, alienated my co-worker for stealing the spotlight on her birthday. Sorry. Am jackass. But with tasty cake.)

Also, Abby (I think) reports that people will never take you seriously if you’re the person who brings in baked goods to the office. To which I say, “Fine. Don’t take me seriously. Enjoy your grocery store cake. Nyah.”

Setting out, I realized that I didn’t have any round cake pans so I convinced the husband to let me cross the threshold of Sur la Table. Oh. My. God. I actually forgot one thing and had to go back the next day. Getting into the car, I said, “I really should be commended for the restraint that I showed in there.” A whole wall of small appliances. Every kind of spatula you could imagine (Spatula City). A stack of shelves with cake pans that I could barely see the top of. It was heaven. And also why I have thus far avoided any restaurant supply stores. I would absolutely break down and chain myself to one of those big KitchenAid mixers. Pictures that I’ve seen from others’ trips to such places nearly had me in tears.

Anyway, to make the mousse layer, the recipe tells you to make the whipped cream in a chilled mixer bowl, melt the chocolate, and put the chocolate in a separate stainless steel bowl. Then, take 1/4 cup of the whipped cream and whisk it into the chocolate to temper it, then fold the rest of the whipped cream in. In an effort to avoid cluttering my tiny kitchen with more bowls, I just left the whipped cream in the mixer bowl, tempered the chocolate, and then put it into the whipped cream. I quickly found out why the new bowl was necessary.

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That is not cookies and cream ice cream, but whipped cream with tiny bits of melted chocolate that were shocked into solid pellets upon their meeting the cold whipped cream. It tasted okay, but the consistency was too weird. I left the bowl of failed mousse with the husband and baby so that they could pick at it, and tried again.

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MUCH better.

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I don’t have any pictures of the finished cake because the “decorating,” if you can call it that, looked worthy of Cake Wrecks. And I made the ill-advised decision to write “Happy Birthday [Name of Co-Worker]!” with one of those Cake Mate “easy to write!” tubes. Here’s the honest to dog truth: any product that claims to be for home chefs and easy-to-use is full of crap. Take some extra time and learn how to use the real thing. Because “Happy Birthday [Name of Co-Worker]!” ended up looking like, “Hbbbj Bbbbby Vcccccc!” with random lines and dots scattered throughout.

Those snafus aside, it was AMAZING. So delicious. Make it. Or have someone make it for you to prove their love.

* * *

Failure Two: Our child evokes one of the characters in Idiocracy

I mentioned recently that the baby is very grumpy about school right now. We haven’t gotten to the bottom of that, but in the meantime we’re still working with him on our own to make sure that he’s learning stuff.

Last night, while sitting in horrendous traffic, the baby asked us what the capital of Pittsburgh was.

“Cities don’t have capitals, buddy. Countries and states do,” we explained.

“Oh,” he said.

“So, what’s the capital of Pennsylvania?”

“Harrisburg.”

“Right. And what’s the capital of the United States?”

“Washington, D.C.”

“Right! And what’s the capital of San Francisco?” we asked, checking to see if he was paying attention.

“Um…Philly?”

“What? No. Philadelphia is a city in Pennsylvania. San Francisco is also a city in California. And cities don’t have capitals, remember?”

“Noooo! PHILLY is in San Francisco!”

“Buddy, no, “Philly” is short for Philadelphia, and it’s in Pennsylvania.”

“Man, I HATE Biology.”

Oh, dear. So, when we finally got home and after the baby had finished his homework, the husband went over some biology geography with him. It hadn’t really been a focus of ours, but we had hoped that he was picking up some useful knowledge from this interactive map game that the husband’s grandmother gave him a while back. Of course, upon closer inspection, perhaps we shouldn’t have handed over some of our teaching responsibilities to this thing.

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It has a bit of a Kerouac ring to it, yes? Packing up the jalopy and driving across the America. Wait til we be lovers in Frisco.

* * *

Failure Three: The pesky need for air

I seem to have caught some of the Man Cold that the husband and baby were fighting a few days ago. And it really hadn’t crimped my lifestyle until last night when I went to do the 30 Day Shred. I was kind of excited because it was my first attempt at Level 2. I was getting bored with Level 1 and had been eager to move on, but achey knees prevented me from doing so sooner.

Here’s the thing about strenuous exercise while congested: Don’t. Do. It. Seriously. Very bad idea. I nearly died during one of the cardio portions because I had to exercise while mouth-breathing, which caused severe mouth dryness, which caused a malfunction when I tried to swallow and catch my breath without the benefit of a functioning airway.

While Jillian screeched, “I WANT YOU TO FEEL LIKE YOU’RE GOING TO DIE!” I wheezed and coughed and tried desperately to rehydrate my mouth.

When I finally finished, the husband said, “Do you feel like you’re going to die?” I replied, “I nearly suffocated and saw birdies.” Then I sneezed on him.

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