Why I Am Not a Food Blogger

Ever since Tarica came home from the hospital on February 10, Jenica has been talking about her birthday. She managed to work it into most conversations, on topic or not, and all our family plans were divided into Before, On, and After.

Whenever I was tempted to roll my eyes, I reminded myself that her anticipation was likely an epilepsy side effect. Tarica’s seizures had made her the Center of Attention for the last year, and Jenica had complained about this much less than she could have. That tempered my exasperation, although I feared she was anticipating a much bigger birthday than we could afford to create.

Last year, before Tarica started seizing, I had promised Jenica I would take a birthday lunch to school for her class. Although I managed to keep that promise in the aftermath of Tarica’s diagnosis, I felt as if I were doing it on auto-pilot. My heart wasn’t celebrating even as we sang “Happy Birthday” at a family birthday party and presented presents and a cake (beautifully decorated by someone else).

This year, I had decided, would be different. I would be present in heart as well as body. I nixed the school lunch early on, in hopes of being realistic. However, I still wanted to do something special for a school birthday treat. Perhaps Jenica and I could make something together.

“Marshmallow peeps,” she said. “Let’s make something with marshmallow peeps.”

Gag, I thought. “Sure,” I said.

I consulted the world’s biggest cookbook, AKA the world wide web. It didn’t take me long to find something that looked cute but easy.

Since I was doing this anyway and since I was taking pictures anyway and since bloggers posted recipes and pictures all the time, I figured I might as well turn this into a post. Why not?

We planned to assemble the treat on Thursday evening so Jenica could take it to school on Friday. I then hit the first bump. My parents were butchering their last steer on Thursday evening, and one quarter of the beast was ours. I had to go over and package our meat for the freezer.

Well, we’d just have to make the treat after Jenica came home from school and then head over to the butchering. A little tight, but we’d manage.

Thursday morning, I bought fast-to-fix ingredients—and here I hit the second bump. In a culture that had begun to count carbs and promote protein, I was committing what amounted to a Class 1 misdemeanor.

Here are the ingredients:

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I could have made my own cake mix. I could have made my own pudding. I could have whipped heavy cream into topping. I could have made my own frosting. I could have bought my own cow so I had fresh milk instead of pasteurized junk stored in white plastic. Instead I bought shortcuts full of sugar and preservatives and unpronounceable names.

Because I didn’t have all evening.

It wasn’t hard to imagine the blogosphere horror.

Did I have enough nerve to do this?

Jenica bounced beside me. “What can I do what can I do?”

I squared my shoulders and put down the camera.

“You can crush the graham crackers,” I said.

 

 

After she was done, she asked, “Now what?”

“Dump the pudding mix into the milk. I’ll measure a cup of cake mix. You can whisk the pudding and cake mix and milk together. When you’re done, I’ll fold in the Cool Whip.”

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The recipe I was following declared that with the addition of the cake mix, the pudding tasted like cake batter, minus the evil eggs. This had sold Jenica on it instantly.

Pudding finished, I said, “Dump two spoonfuls of graham cracker crumbs into each cup. I’ll spoon pudding on top, and then you can put more graham crackers on top of that.”

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And here we ran into what I call the chip-and-dip conundrum. I’m sure you’ve done it, too. You help yourself to chips and dip, but you don’t have quite enough chips, so you take a few more, and then you don’t have enough dip, so you have yourself some more dip. But then you need more chips. It’s a delightful and self-sustained cycle.

Except when the chip-and-dip conundrum pops up in other areas.

We ran out of graham crackers. Jenica crushed more.

We ran out of pudding. I whisked together another batch.

And then we had too much pudding.

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I broke the cycle by dumping the rest of the pudding into an empty Cool Whip and stuffing it into the fridge before anyone got any ideas about how many more pudding cups we could make. We would eat cake-batter pudding by itself tomorrow, or—gag—not.

And then I opened the store-bought frosting, warmed it in the microwave, and poured a little on top of each cup.

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We then ran into our next problem. The pudding cups, or rather, the warmed frosting needed to cool before we dabbed Cool Whip on top. But it was time to leave.

Unfinished food projects make me jumpy. Particularly ones that have to be finished in the morning before school.

We boxed up the cups, put them into the fridge, and left to wrap meat.

The next morning, in between breakfast and hair-combing, I plopped Cool Whip on top of the cups, and Jenica nested blue Peeps on each one.

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Done.

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What a relief.

You want the recipe?

I very much doubt you do, but if you Google “eclair pudding marshmallow peeps,” you’ll find an example of how a food blogger does it.

Do it her way, not mine.

* * *

P.S. I did one more experiment over the weekend, and that one turned out—surprisingly—better than I expected.

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But if you want the recipe, Google “kit kat birthday cake” and let the experts tell you how to do it.

 

16 thoughts on “Why I Am Not a Food Blogger

  1. You are too funny. And though I may be called a “food blogger” you may notice that I’ve never shared photos of my children’s birthday cakes. I’m birthday cake challenged. My dear children grin broadly over them – but, if they didn’t know that the cake was to be an airplane, they would never have guessed.

    This is birthday week for me too. I have two finished and one more birthday cake yet to do. This one is (by request of the birthday girl) supposed to be a “garden cake with flowers and gummy worms in the dirt.” She even was so generous with her ideas to suggest that I could use a marshmallow peep for a bird that would be eating the gummy worms.

    Anything for an opportunity to add more sugar into their life.
    Gina

    • I did not know, when I became a mother, that someday I would dread the birthday-cake challenge nearly as much as I dreaded the process it took to get our children into the world. Cake labor can be nearly as long and almost as dreadful. (Okay, maybe I exaggerate, but the point remains.)

      Glad to know that even a food blogger has similar troubles.

  2. I love it 🙂 Birthday cakes I can do, actually rather enjoy doing (except for the mess to clean up) But cooking, particularly for other people and, worse yet, crowds of them, is my biggest dread! You can imagine how much I’m loving being on the Food Committe at church right now and the lovely morning I’ve spent figuring and re-figuring amounts and making phone calls…… let’s just say I identified with your post very much, just on a different level than Birthday Cakes!

    I love the kit kat cake!

    • Oh, Bethany. May I offer my sympathies? It doesn’t get you through the pain, but perhaps it will console you to know that at least one woman is wincing at the thought of Food Committees. A birthday cake might flop, but the audience is small. But the day you miscalculate and Run Out Of Food in front of 100 people–that day will go down in the Annals of Shame.

      Not, of course, that you worry about running out of food. 🙂

  3. Birthday cakes and I go together like oil and water, like salt and a wound, very much so. Last year my brain ran weary just thinking about it, much less committing the act of decorating.
    One fine day I thought, “Why not let the 11 and 9 year old decorate their own cakes!” They loved the idea and happily piped frosting on every inch of cake. The 5 year had wanted to do his own after watching them and so we all lived happily ever after. 😀

    • That was a fine day, and a fine idea. I’ll have to keep it in mind. It might check those lavish birthday-cake fantasies when they realize how hard it is to take an idea from your head and translate it into icing.

      I guess this whole birthday cake ordeal is just a case of mind over–oh, dear, I feel a bad pun coming on–batter.

  4. The treat sounds awful to an old lady who is a scratch baker but they looked just perfect for a group of 8 year olds, just enough carbs to make them happy and Peeps on top how much better could you get? You did great !!

  5. I love the kit kat cake! As far as birthday cakes go, I don’t even attempt it. Years ago I bought a book so that I could learn to make birthday cakes. I’ve looked at it a few times but that’s as far as I got. I just run to the grocery store and order a cake. They make it however the boys imagine it. 🙂 And it tastes so much better than any I could make. Every year I tell myself that maybe this year I’ll learn to decorate a cake well enough to make my own but…

  6. Those treats looked delish! 🙂 And I am not that creative person that even tries to make and decorate a birthday cake. I say, if you can buy a pretty one instead of stressing out over it, go for it 🙂

  7. I love the kitkat cake! I am one of those ” avoid sugar moms ” and separate carbs n fats etc etc. But!!!! Sometimes a mom has to do what a mom has to do! One birthday I felt stressed and bought an icecream cake ( which my daughter loved) but felt oh so sinful to me as I was raised with mom making beautifull decorated cakes! Then my son’s first birthday was the cutest little cupcake teddies made with bought icing and sprinkles and mini oreos for nose n tummy n reeses for hands and feet. Not one healthy thing about it…except a healthy pleasure by all who saw and ate them. And my last daughter had a painstakingly decorated hello dolly cake. My point? Birthdays are special and if mom needs to buy everything to dump together in order to preserve her sanity, then DO it! One meal won’t hurt them and they will talk for years about the cake they had!! Cheers to you! I bet you had a happy girl!

  8. Cute birthday cake. I have enjoyed doing birthday cakes through the years. Not always professional looking but loved by the child. Now our oldest daughter(27) has kind of “taken over” She loves to experiment as I once did and she comes up with some beautiful cakes.

    I had commented on your blog about our daughter being free of seizures after a very long time of working with meds. Well, that statistic has changed… We received a call from New Brunswick on Mon eve. She is traveling with Maranatha Bible School Chorale. She had a seizure which was in her words “not like any I ever had” It lasted longer and she also had a memory laps for 1 hr some details longer. NOW WHAT?
    The dr. did return a call today he will up her meds for the time being. She text me last night, that she is scared but ok. We are grateful to those that were with her and gave us the details we needed to try to grasp and comprehend what happened so we could then transfer that info to the dr. It has been emotional, and a bit unsettling, but ultimately we know We are not alone, GOD is with us! We are praying that our daughter can rest in that at such an uncertian time. She will be home in 1 week.

    • I am so sorry to hear this. Do you think anything in particular triggered the seizure?

      Living with intractable seizures is a little like being permanently nine months pregnant. It’s not a matter of if, but when. Something could happen any time. You try to live with it, but it consumes so much energy and mental space. It exhausts you, but there’s no way to escape it.

      Maybe that’s a bad analogy, because a birth is a joyous thing and a seizure is not. But for me, these two experiences have similarities.

      I will pray that the remaining tour will be seizure-free for your daughter. I can only imagine how the fear of seizing must haunt your daughter, especially away from home and family. May God give her grace, and abundantly.

      • We are not sure. She was very tired, but have never really associated her seizures to being tired. ???? It seems she is doing her best at enjoying her time, in spite of the interuption and fear this happening again.

  9. As soon as I saw this I knew I’d be trying it!!! Anything with eclair in the name has no option but to be delectable! So today was the day, and it was a smashing success. The children and I are very fond of marshmallow peeps and bunnies. I didn’t put them on because my little jars were full, and Scott wondered where they were. Thanks for sharing!

  10. Pingback: Please Don’t Call Me a Blogger | Stephanie J. Leinbach

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