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January 6, 2015

Further Adventures in Accidental Cakery

cake“To me, the grounds for hope are simply that we don’t know what will happen next, and that the unlikely and the unimaginable transpire quite regularly.” —Rebecca Solnit, “Woolf’s Darkness”

Today was a day so firmly determined to shrug off its plan that all one can really do is shrug one’s shoulders…and eat dessert.

I have a babysitter on Tuesday mornings, who called last night to cancel because she was ill. Which I thought meant I’d lose some productivity today, but I didn’t know the half of it. When we woke up this morning, the furnace was broken and the temperature down to 15 degrees. With the wind-chill, today felt like -17 outside, so this was troubling news. Luckily, our landlords were on it, and I was grateful that the babysitter would not have arrived at our freezing house after all. Iris and I took Harriet to school, and then we came home to await the serviceperson’s arrival. For about 10 minutes after we came out of the -17, the house actually felt warm, but then it got cold again even though I was wearing multiple layers of clothing, tights under my pants. The only option left then was to put something in the oven.

So I decided to make a cake. But it couldn’t be just any cake. We’ve had far too much in the way of baked goods over the past month and I’d sort of vowed to take a cake break, but then what else does one put in oven’s oven? I had absolutely nothing in the way of things to stew. So cake it was, but quinoa cake, I decided, because quinoa has been sitting in my cupboard for ages. (Although it was actually in the fridge, where we store all our grains to stymy inevitable infestations of mice and moths. Harriet thinks it’s weird that some families keep cereal in the cupboard. She’s never had a krispie that wasn’t chilled. Anyway…)

Quinoa sounded healthier than ordinary chocolate cake, at least. Except that it called for 4 eggs and we have no eggs. So I made it with flax meal sub’d for the four eggs. And coconut oil for the butter (and the coconut oil had frozen!). A quinoa cake didn’t sound all that promising in the first place, and all my sorry doctoring would do it no favours. I put it in my bundt pan (and how I love my bundt pan) where it baked for nearly two hours, and refused to be cooked all the way through. Mission accomplished though: I’d heated the kitchen most of the morning. Still no furnace serviceperson yet.

We’d lost another degree when I contacted our landlord to let her know that they’d not yet arrived. She heard back from them: they HAD come in the morning but knocked at my neighbour’s door and not ours, and didn’t call when they got no answer. She spent 40 minutes on the phone with the company, who told her that the serviceperson could return to our house tonight between 8 and 11pm. Unrelentingly, she stayed on the phone, where they finally agreed to return sooner but only at 3pm, when I leave to go pick up Harriet from school. And so I was charged with finding someone else to fetch Harriet from school, which I knew was going to be trouble—Harriet lives in perpetual fear that I’m not going to pick her up because I was late once in September 2013. Finally, both my landlord AND I found (different) kind neighbours willing to fetch Harriet, which led to more back and forthing as we sorted out the surfeit of human kindness.

The serviceperson finally arrived soon after Iris had awoken from the nap she was taking upstairs with a space heater. We had to chase him down before he left again, which wasn’t aided by the fact that Iris refused to be clothed in outerwear of any kind, and so I had to carry her out wrapped in Stuart’s hoodie. And then Iris and I had to spend 30 minutes in the basement bachelor apartment (where the furnace is) which had no place to sit down except the legendary sex bed (which I know well from sound through the air vents) and I didn’t feel exactly comfortable having Iris sit on that bed, but we had no choice. It was made, at least. She watched Elmo videos on my phone and ate goldfish crackers while I stared at at the serviceperson’s sizeable bum (and thankfully, it was not a plumber’s).

I asked him if all the furnaces broke on the coldest day of the year, and he said that tomorrow was actually the coldest day of the year, so we were getting our trouble out of the way early.

And then he was finally done, and I rushed out to find Harriet (not before putting Iris in snow pants and a jacket), who was being brought home by a classmate’s mother, but I went up the wrong street and missed them and was informed by the saintly crossing guard at Bloor and Spadina that Harriet had passed by her corner about five minutes before. So I had to run back home in the -17, and finally found Harriet in front of our house. Where we had heat again and Harriet was home, and so order was all restored, but I had accomplished absolutely nothing in the entire day, except for a really weird quinoa cake, so we sat down to eat it.

It wasn’t bad. Mushy in the middle, and really really rich. “If the furnace hadn’t broken, this cake wouldn’t exist,” I thought, as Iris found a knife and actually cut herself a second piece. I gave another to Harriet too, and then they wanted thirds, but I drew the line—quinoa, yes, but it had a cup of cocoa and even more sugar— and so they both crawled under the table and proceeded to eat the crumbs. They were down there for ages, and the licked the floor completely clean. I’ve never seen them so ravenous for anything.

Stuart came home and the house was in disarray, but we were reading stories, and everything seemed to be settling down. We were having a pasta dinner that involved boiling water and squeezing a lemon, so that was good, and then I remembered that tomorrow is pizza day, which is even better—no lunch to make. And once the pasta was eaten, we finished the cake, the whole thing (save for the quarter I gave to Harriet’s classmate’s mom for bringing her home, wrapped in tinfoil).

I am beginning to think there may be an order to the universe after all, and that accidental cake is part of it, most certainly.

3 thoughts on “Further Adventures in Accidental Cakery”

  1. Kerry, I absolutely love this post…I’m laughing uncontrollably.
    Quinoa cake, hmm…yes, it’s still all about cake, isn’t it…xo

    1. Kerry says:

      Always, Ann Marie! Hope you’re dong well in your new home, and happy new year! xo

  2. wendy says:

    But you had cake, Kerry! 🙂 I loved this post, though I have to say these furnace concerns are ones I’m glad not to have right now.

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