Thursday, July 03, 2008

Red, white and blue.

This morning, Monkey and I spent some time making "goody bags" at his school as part of "Operation Goody Bag." As a pre 4th of July activity, I thought it was a cute idea. We decorated bags and filled them with candy and notes, to send to members of the armed forces as well as local first responders. I wasn't sure how to explain to Jordan who was the recipient of this bag. I don't think he quite understood the concept of who a "soldier" was. Rather than confuse him with his father's political dogma, I simply said that a soldier was someone who worked really hard to protect our country, and this was our way to brighten their day.

Of course, surrounded by piles of candy, it dawned on Monkey that brightening his own day was equally important. Even as he traced stars on his bag, and signed his name on our letter, he pleaded for a lollipop of his own. What am I going to say? The table was littered with hundreds of lollipops begging for acknowledgement. I held off as long as we could, and completed the project first. As we were ready to depart, I let him pick one lollipop, which he unwrapped with painstaking care.

Walking back to the car, he surprised me yet again. I was rushing to get to the car, head to Costco, run a dozen errands before lunch, etc.

"Mommy, look at my shadow!" He said, and stopped without warning.

I stopped too, and saw our shadows holding hands.

Sweet things lay ahead for Monkey this weekend, as we gear up for tomorrow's big barbeque. I got the burgers prepped - a combination of recipes there, and I got a head start on dessert. Monkey helped me pick out a particularly decadent cheesecake from Costco (those free samples are hell on the willpower). But since I'm not a big cheesecake fan, I thought I'd try an alternative. Strawberry cake, ala Martha.

The finished product will be assembled tomorrow before presentation. But this evening, I got some steps out of the way:

Preparing the strawberries. Costco bulk fruit again - a big motivator for the recipe in the first place.

Cake from scratch, poured into the pan.

Inverted onto the wire rack to cool. And this is why it's necessary to take those extra step to line the pan with parchment paper, butter and flour it. The cake popped out perfectly, golden brown, no burning, and an easy to clean pan too. I managed to slice it in half, horizontally, without a hitch. Experienced bakers will chuckle at my narrative, but seriously, it's the precision parts I inevitably screw up. I'm always in too much of a hurry. Baking demands more of your patience - which is why I wait till the kids are asleep to make the big stuff.

My favorite part, making the whipped cream topping. I know Monkey will love this. Miss Mina, on the other hand, is a purist. She'll go straight for the berries, leaving the cream to the side.
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