Tag Archives: cake

An Anniversary of Sorts

Today marks five years since my metamorphosis. In my Kafkaesque world, I haven’t developed into something beautiful or desirable like a butterfly, but my devolution can be more appropriately imagined as one who transformed into a cockroach. A stroll from order to disorder. A life of good health that descended into an existence of chronic pain.

Five years ago I underwent a simple elective procedure that changed my life in ways that I had never bargained. I had a vasectomy because I’m not Dick Van Patten and three is enough. After the pain didn’t subside after a few days, I sought the advice from a new urologist. It’s as if I won the lottery as he said my condition is exceedingly rare.

I told him if I had been advised of the possibility of crippling pain I may have avoided a vasectomy altogether. This doctor who performed an epididymectomy in a failed attempt to release me from the pain, made an analogy that made my apparent informed consent conundrum make sense. He humorously told me that there is a small chance I may fall off the operating table in the middle of a procedure, but the odds are so ridiculously small that he doesn’t inform his patients of the risk. I actually thought his response was hilarious.

Notice how I said his attempt to relieve me of my pain was a failure. If we fast forward to the end of the rainbow, I had some experimental procedures and eventually had an orchiectomy. And I still have pain.

Four years ago tomorrow marks the day I was hospitalized for a bleeding ulcer. For weeks prior I periodically woke up in the middle of the night with heartburn and a rotten taste in my mouth. This was the mother of all bad tastes and no amount of mouthwash could make it go away. I didn’t realize I had an ulcer until the morning I started my day with a sinkful of putrified blood. I still went to work because my wife thought I was being a wuss. I was hospitalized that afternoon and enjoyed a nice relaxing four days watching cooking shows while my diet consisted of nothing but broth and apple juice. (I like food so much that I enjoy it even when it is off limits).

I was also recently diagnosed with ankylosing spondylitis.  It is an autoimmune disorder that is unrelated to my original pain, but it is all too evident on days I’m only able to lurch about in my daily activities.

I completely forgot what today signified until I read Matt Walsh’s latest contribution.  I don’t follow the news very closely, but I’m now aware of a woman named Brittany Murphy who has terminal cancer.  She is going to commit suicide on November 1.  I’ll admit that I have no idea what it would be like to have a bleak future of pain that I cannot even imagine, but I have to agree with Matt Walsh that there is nothing noble in suicide.  I have lived with pain everyday for five years.  Some days are so excruciating that all I can think about is putting a gun in my mouth.  I get it.  Pain is horrible and sometimes I don’t know how I will survive another day.  Yet, my condition isn’t killing me.  I’m 39 and it’s entirely possible that I may live for decades with pain every day.

Walsh made an interesting point regarding euthanasia.  The assertion is that this woman is being brave by ending her life to escape the pain and indignity of cancer.  If that is true, are people who choose to endure the horrors of cancer until they are removed from this life any less courageous?  Or are they cowardly since their choice is the antithesis of Brittany’s brave choice?  I only consider this because I live everyday with pain.  Am I a coward to endure suffering?  As a Christian, I know that suicide is not a viable choice, but if there is a growing consensus for euthanasia, could there be a day when the choice is not mine to make?  Mind you, I’m unable to work, so I’m not a productive member of society.  Should productivity be a determining factor?  Will a day come when “useless” people are exterminated en masse for the benefit of society?

These are big questions that I have no answers for.  I was just reminded that today is my anniversary.

Tomorrow, I’ll celebrate with cake.

CC image courtesy of Finlayfox.

Maple Cake with Mocha Frosting

A friend of mine lent me her stand mixer so I could see if I wanted (or needed) to buy one myself.  I have been baking a lot of cakes lately, and depending on where I have been baking them, I either mixed them with a hand mixer or by hand with an authoritative spoon.  It is work using a hand mixer, but when you are cooking full sized sheet cakes with nothing more than a spoon, it becomes work.  Fast.  The stand mixer runs laps around my puny arm.

This is much more effective than my puny arm.
This is much more effective than my puny arm.

Today, I decided to create a maple cake with mocha buttercream frosting.  I loosely based this cake on the same recipe I posted the other day.  As a matter of fact, this cake is nothing like it.  The required ingredients are as follows:

 

Ingredients

2 cups all-purpose flour

1 cup brown sugar

1 cup maple syrup

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/2 cup vegetable oil

1/2 cup butter

2 eggs

1/2 cup buttermilk

1 teaspoon baking soda

1 teaspoon vanilla extract (I’m using Honduran extract)

 

Frosting

1/2 cup butter

1/3 cup whipping cream

1/4 cup baking cocoa

3 cups confectioners’ sugar

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 teaspoon coffee extract

 

Method

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Mix butter in a bowl with brown sugar until smooth.  Blend in maple syrup and oil.  Slowly add flour, salt, and baking soda.  Once well mixed, add two eggs and buttermilk.  Finish off with a teaspoon of vanilla extract.

Greased 9 x 13 sheet pan and pour in batter.  Bake approximately 30-40 minutes.

While cake is baking, beat 1/2 stick butter with whipping cream, confectioners’ sugar, and whipping cream.  Once smooth, add vanilla and coffee extracts.

Maple cake with mocha frosting.
Maple cake with mocha frosting.

Pour frosting over cake while still warm.

Enjoy.

Note:  The edges of the cake seemed a little hard, so next time I will try with white sugar instead of brown sugar.

Cinnamon Chocolate Cake

Note:  the featured image above is from a full sheet cake.  the cake wasn’t thick as I didn’t have a high walled cake pan.  Cakes are better when they are so tall they won’t fit into your mouth unless you unhinge your jaw like a rattlesnake.  Photo was taken by Josh Guthrie.

Over the past few weeks I have been looking up cake recipes and even had a few ideas of my own.  My family loved the chocolate-peanut butter cake with banana frosting.  Personally, I thought it was too sweet and the peanut butter seemed to overpower the banana.

This isn’t a cake recipe, but recently I made peanut butter-bananas foster chimachangas with marshmallow.  That was our supper one night.  Again, the family loved it, but it was too sweet for me.  I’d like to revisit both  make some adjustments to make these winners.

I have an exceedingly hard time following recipes.  Yes, I can read.  Yes, I can follow simple directions.  Just not in the kitchen.  Does that happen to you?  At the last moment, I always have something I want to change to make it better.  With this impromptu baking I have learned that cakes, breads, etc. can be very forgiving.

I did find a recipe that was anomalous.  It was a cake recipe that I had no desire to change.  I have make this cake four or five times in the past month mostly for me to gorge on, but the family loves it and so does everyone else who has tried it.

I cannot eat enough of this cinnamon-chocolate cake.  Instead of walnuts I used pecans. That’s what was in the pantry. Today’s cake was a little different as I only had enough granulated white sugar for half of what the recipe calls for. The other half was brown sugar.  See, these changes were out of necessity, otherwise I would have *gasp* followed the recipe as written.

I just ate a piece and it was moist and airy.  Doesn’t Mexican chocolate have cinnamon in it?  This recipe just has enough cinnamon to wake up the chocolate.  Chocolate is great.  The cinnamon enhances the chocolate flavor that you cannot rest until the cake is devoured.

Today's cake.  I made this four times or so in the past month.
Today’s cake. I made this four times or so in the past month.

I really wish I could take credit for this cake. I’m considering a cinnamon-maple cake with coffee frosting. If it’s worthy of sharing, you’ll be the first to know.

Busted

I don’t bake much, but when I do I love licking the beaters, spoons, bowl, whatever. If there is cake batter it needs to be licked.

I have three daughters, so I usually usually just let them have all the paraphenalia because sharing is the right thing to do.

Some time ago, I was working on a cake when all the girls were playing in their rooms. I got the cake in the oven and I went straight for the bowl. Have you ever eaten something where you just can’t stop?

I believe it was a peanut butter cake. Who can resist? In my weakness, I greedily wiped on the bowl’s interior with my whole hand. Batter covered my face like an infant eating strained peas. I’m certain I had batter in my eyebrows.

Then I was caught. All three girls bound for the kitchen and I attempt to gain composure. I couldn’t even make up a story as my face gave me away. I surrendered my cake batter cornucopia to those girls with the sunshiny faces. I’d be smiling too if I still had that bowl.

I learned a valuable lesson that day. Sadly, it wasn’t the virtue of sharing. I learned to bake while the kids are in school.