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Pickle Me This

May 28, 2021

Pfingsten

I’ve been reading Barbara Pym all spring, as I’ve mentioned several hundred times, and the Anglican rituals, for me, have always been the most curious aspect of these books—the vicars, and the curates, and the cassocks. What’s a cassock? I don’t even know. And especially: what is Whitsun? Whitsun, which is never a major plot point, but simply part of the course of the year (and occasion for a bank holiday). I had to google it—Whitsun is the Pentecost (and then I had to google that, and I still don’t really get it), celebrated the seventh Sunday after Easter. And frankly, not a lot—Barbara Pym aside—has been going on this spring, as Ontario moves into its eleventeenth month of lockdown, so I decided this was the year I was going to make Whitsun a thing. What that would entail exactly, I wasn’t sure. Definitely not church. But we needed something to look forward to, a goal to shoot for, and so Whitsun it is. (And indeed, this is cultural appropriation. Church of England Cultural Appropriation. It’s not the same thing.)

I decided this during a terrible weekend in mid-April where our provincial government’s incompetence took a swan dive off a cliff. Finally, after the government waiting to see whether modelling numbers predicting ICUs being overwhelmed with patients would play out in reality (SPOILER: they did! Who would have guessed?) the province moved into a locked-downier lockdown from the lockdown we’ve been locked down in since November 23. Six weeks on from then would be Whitsun. Surely by Whitsun, I told myself, we would find ourselves in a better place? Keep looking in the direction of the place you want to get to has been my motto all along…

And here we are, with falling infection rates, with vaccine rates that are really high. We were still in lockdown for Whitsun and the lockdown carries on, but it was so good to mark a milestone on a weekend with such beautiful summer weather. I’d also ordered peonies, because I’d received an enticing ad from a local florist, and the great thing about made-up holidays (all holidays are made-up holidays, even Whitsun, though I’ll acknowledge that my version of Whitsun was particularly improvised) was that you get to make them whatever you want. Whitsun peonies, I decided. And we’d make a Victoria sponge cake. I booked a car so we could go somewhere. We were going to make this the best Whitsun ever!

And it was! It was already a holiday weekend in Ontario and we’d gone for an epic bike ride the day before (Whitsun Eve). On Whitsun itself, we had Sunday waffles as usual but they just tasted better for it being Whitsun. I finished the book I was reading (Day for Night, by Jean McNeil, which I’ll be writing about here soon…). We went to Ontario Place, and had a second weekend in a row with two lake days in a row. We got ice cream. We came home (no traffic) and had an amazing barbecue supper, and then just as I was assembling the Victoria sponge cake (which was beautiful and delicious and did not look like it had been assembled by a blindfolded toddler—a first for me!) a friend sent me a text and asked if our family would like to join theirs for fireworks in the park that evening.

I can’t believe they were lighting fireworks for Whitsun!

Our children have never seen fireworks before and it turned out to be the most magical display, the first real life communal experience we’ve had while not sitting in a vehicle since March 2020 (albeit at safe distance for other people and also explosives). It occurred to me that if everybody just carried around lit sparklers all the time, we’d have no trouble staying six feet apart at all.

Even more cool things: on Sunday I was scrolling through the #Whitsun hashtag on Instagram, and what do I find. Peonies! Whitsun peonies EVERYWHERE. It turns out that the Pentecost is a national holiday in Germany and peonies (pfingstrose, translation Whitsun Rose) are the official symbol. Sometimes when you’re making it up you get it exactly right.

Not all days are glorious. Our bike ride on the Saturday before Whitsun was hot and full of whining. When we finally got to our destination, the beach was full of thick green algae and bugs were swarming us. A very loud church service was being amplified unavoidably, and it was weird and obnoxious. I was allergic to something and broke out in a rash, and on the long ride home we got caught in a rainstorm. “That was awesome,” we said at the end of the journey (20km) but also absolutely awful.

Whitsun though. Whitsun was perfect. Sometimes you get lucky. Sometimes you get to make it up and everything goes right.

April 19, 2021

Accidentally at the Beach

If you’re a fan of my blog, you’ve probably heard me talk about accidental cake, which is my own personal theory of serendipity. This past Saturday was another #accidentalcake adventure, the dream trip to the beach we never planned for. Friday night I was so devastated by the news, I baked @smittenkitchen’s hummingbird cake (the icing is not necessary) to feel better and also because I was intrigued by the pineapple banana combo. The next afternoon we had the carshare booked for a journey somewhere, and because I had this freshly baked loaf, I suggested we wrap up half and deliver it to our friends’ new house in the east end—they are moving in today. We were planning to go over to the Brickworks after, but Stuart suggested that since we were almost at the beach, how about we go to the beach. And so we did, because the cake brought us, and the beach was so beautiful and clean and while we there the sun came out and the sky turned blue, and our kids jumped on the rocks and I had my back to them so I wouldn’t yell, “Be careful,” and the ice cream store was open, and there was so much space, and sky, and it was not that cold, and the sun was glorious, and a swan came by, and we were all so very happy, and it seemed distinctly possible that our spirits will weather this storm and we’ll all come out the other side. And without that cake, none of this would have happened.

January 14, 2021

Celebration Wednesdays

#CelebrationWednesdays is a thing I made up yesterday as an excuse to be baking a cake with rainbow sprinkles in the middle of a roller coaster week. Roller coaster week in the pandemic sense, of course, which meant that I barely left the house, but the world has been hard and the weather is grey, and I’ve had plugged ears since Boxing Day that have only become worse since I started squirting random liquids into them in order to ameliorate the situation.

And so the answer was cake. (The answer is always cake.)

I made Smitten Kitchen’s confetti cake with butter cream icing, and it was so very delicious. And I determined that, for the duration, we’ll be celebrating something ever Wednesday, no matter what. And yesterday, that celebration was vaccines. The friends of ours who work in health care are beginning to get theirs. Our friends in New York are getting theirs too. A friend told me that school staff in Ontario will be among the Stage 2 vaccinations too, which is the best thing ever, and it all makes me so happy and is definitely reason to celebrate. It will be some time before I get the shot myself, I suspect, but seeing as I don’t get out much these days, I’m willing to be patient.

Right now I am reading Penelope Lively’s A House Unlocked, the story of her grandparents’ house in Southwest England and the role it played as a backdrop to the tumult of twentieth century. During World War Two, Lively’s family sheltered six small children evacuated from East London, and she put the story in a context I’d never considered before, having taken these evacuations for granted as part of history. But how bizarre it must have been—officials would come to rural homes and take stock of their capacity, and then inform residents of many people would be arriving. People who would stay for years (and had nits and wet the bed). Can you imagine going through that? What mass organization must have been required. And some of it was very disorganized—Lively writes of plans made for specific people to billeted in particular places, but when the time came, the London stations were so overwhelmed with passengers, they had no choice but to just put them on the first trains available, no matter where they were going.

She also writes about the national spirit in 1939, which I’ve never really thought a whole lot about. During the past year in particular, I’ve found myself wondering if my grandparents ever looked at each other and muttered, “Goddamn you, 1943,” but then of course they didn’t, because my grandfather was away at sea. But Lively writes about the very beginning of the war, about the catastrophic predictions for aerial bombardment from the Germans, which experts had been talking about throughout the 1930s. This was no 1914, “this will all be over by Christmas.” Lively writes, “Anyone alive to official anticipation of what would probably happen in the first days and weeks of war would have been expecting the end of the world they knew.”

The story of these mass evacuations was also one of extreme poverty, vast income inequality, a need “to preempt… mass panic and consequent breakdown of law and order” as attacks began.

Anyway, it all made me think about how there is nothing new under the sun… And about the strangeness of living through history, which I never experienced properly before the last five years or so. I was 22 on September 11, 2001, but for me that was too young to properly understand the implications of those events, or how I was connected to them. One day I think I will write something about how it was watching Mad Men that prepared me for the tumultuous times that we’ve been living through. The visceral way that the show presented what it was to experience the 1960s, the deaths of President Kennedy, Martin Luther King Jr. (“WHAT IS GOING ON?”)

Anyway, the great thing about Celebration Wednesdays is that they lead to Leftover Cake Thursdays.

Whatever gets you through.

November 3, 2020

This Is Not a Victory Cake

If you go back in my archives, you’ll find my posts from four years ago about, first, the victory cake I baked, and then, afterwards, how much I regretted that cake. It did not taste good. I learned a lot from that unfortunate cake, and I’ve continued to learn in the months and years since. I’ve been thinking a lot lately about how important it is to learn you can lose, that justice is not inevitable. The arc is longer than we thought. In early 2017, I was reading a biography of Jane Jacobs, and someone commented that Jacobs was so remarkable because she’s one of the few people who ever managed to win, and I’d never thought of that before. That goodness doesn’t always triumph, that it usually doesn’t—which is so counter to everything I ever understood growing up against the crumble of the cold war, the end of history and all. But nothing really is ever so definitive, and I think about this as I contemplate going forward and how to frame ideas, and about how going all or nothing is possibly to set oneself up for defeat. How it is necessary too to understand that winning/losing is not the binary you might think it is. Nothing is simple, nothing at all.

Except: don’t bake a cake before you’ve won. And I haven’t. I’ve made a cake though, and that’s because I have a friend stopping by to visit this afternoon, and it’s called hospitality. And also because we’re heading into that time of year where the sky gets dark fast and Smitten Kitchen’s grapefruit cake adds some necessary brightness, sunshine. You can make your own sunshine, no matter what else is going on, I suppose, is what I’m saying with this cake. Not blind optimism this time, fingers crossed, but light in the darkness instead.

January 15, 2017

Cake Breaker

I specialize in accidental cakes—I wrote about one of these in my favourite blog post ever. And here is another, in a post that was originally an Instagram post, but I was a few hundred words in before I realized it was a blog post after all. And so here it goes.

Yesterday there was no cake scheduled and there would have been no cake, except that when I was looking in a drawer for chopsticks at lunchtime (we were having udon noodles), I found an implement (shown in the photo above) which I’ve never used and cannot remember where it came from—from my mom or my aunt? Was it my grandmother’s? But regardless of origin, I didn’t even know its purpose: a comb? A plow for mashed potatoes? But then Stuart remembered that it was a cake server. “That’s right. But how??”

And then I googled “cake server with prongs” and found Jessica Reed’s website (“CakeWalk: Exploring Stories, History, and Identity Though Cake”), which is my new favourite place on the internet. In the post I found, Reed writes about this implement, “the cake breaker,” patented by Cale J Schneider in 1932. The cake breaker is specially designed to slice a cake without destroying it, essential in delicate cakes such as angelfood…

“Well, let’s make an angelfood cake,” I declared, determined—until I found the recipe had 12 eggs in it. Our eggs are free range and eggs are far far too precious for that. So no. I scoured my cookbooks for other options, and settled on an apple upside-down cake. Not the best cake for a breaker, I realized in retrospect, because it would have to slice through apples too. So not optimal, but it worked. We ate the second half of it this afternoon, and it was even yummier.

And the point of this, of course, is the amazing way that all roads (even udon!) lead to cake, however indirectly.

I mean, at least they do if you’re lucky…

June 26, 2016

Happy Days

Friday was also my 37th birthday, which kicked off with a visit to the bank. Okay, that’s not completely true—I woke up and as per family tradition, people and presents were piled on my bed and I got to open the latter, which included bath things, a new robe, a beautiful shirt, and the book Mad Men Carousel, which means I now get to read my favourite television show over and over again instead of only just watching it. It all was wonderful, but then we had to get going, get the kids to school, and there was that meeting at the bank which was just a quick one because I had some papers to sign. My favourite thing about my bank is free WiFi and so as I sat there in the nondescript office and waited for pages to print and details to be sorted, my phone kept buzzing, email, Twitter and Instagram, so many excellent people sending me wishes. My best friends, old friends, online friends, and more friends—it was overwhelming. I am so incredibly grateful for the people who make my world. One in particular…

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Which would be the one who orchestrated the post-bank events. He was working from home so was there to answer the knock on our door just past 10am, when a taxi arrived delivering scones and jam from Baker and Scone, the scones still warm from the oven. Lavender scones, no less. And then another knock at the door, more friends, and there was champagne and orange juice, and a fruit tart, and so much goodness. It was amazing. What a way to spend a Friday morning—and then after I went to fetch Iris at noon, I spent the afternoon reading in my hammock. (It is also nice to be out and about with Iris, who insists on telling everybody that it’s my birthday, so that I get to be celebrated and still look cool.)

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That night we went to Chadwicks for dinner, and had a delightful time on the patio. Reminiscing about all the good times we’ve had there over the years—like the night that Iris discovered she had feet. And then coming home to ice cream cake, my favourite (and even better: there’s still some in the freezer right now).

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We spent Saturday morning in High Park with friends for a spectacularly catered sixth birthday party, and then drove out of the city after lunch for the final lag of my birthday celebrations. Driving to Uxbridge, ON to visit Blue Heron Books—remember my first visit there two years ago? Although we stropped for gelato first and then made our way to Blue Heron, which now has an adjoining teashop, which is only good news.

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The door was open and the shop was beautiful. I loved their displays, personal recommendations, the chairs, and selection. I browsed and explored, picking up titles that caught my eye. I managed not to buy every single one, although I got a few of them. It was a wonderful way to spend an afternoon. I only returned to the cash one more time after my initial purchases. And then we made our way to the park and hung out in the shade on the grass, before heading to Urban Pantry for a ridiculously delicious dinner (with cake pops, no less). The ride back home was peaceful and nobody cried, and there is this one spot on Bloomington Road where we could see the city, small but entire, faraway over the green fields, and all of us gasped in awe.

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April 29, 2016

Pinny in Summer, by Joanne Schwartz and Isabelle Malenfant

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I owe the most enormous debt to Joanne Schwartz. I met Joanne five and a half years ago when I started attending toddler time at the Lillian H. Smith Library with Harriet, and not only did she introduce me to The Night Kitchen, by Maurice Sendak (which is one of the best things a person can do for anybody), and books by Eve Rice, and Marisabina Russo, and so many others, but she actually taught me how to read a story.

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Now I am really, really good at reading stories, but my secret confession is that it’s because I totally stole Joanne’s technique. Which involves talking to children like they’re humans instead of idiots, not employing silly voices, instead a clear voice just not loud enough so that you’ve got to be engaged in order to hear it, and (and this is key) that the voice be thoroughly infused with wonder. So that it’s soothing and animated at once—the most incredible balance.

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Joanne’s own books are not so different in approach from the way she reads. She is the author of Our Corner Grocery Store, a fantastic story about a family-run shop , and also of the books City Alphabet and City Numbers, with photographs by Matt Beam, and all of these are books that illuminate the extraordinary in ordinary sights and experiences.

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Her new book, Pinny in Summer, gorgeously illustrated by Isabelle Malenfant, fits nicely into that oeuvre, and manages that same balance of soothing and animated, rich with wonder. It’s four little stories in one book, all taking place over the course of a single day—similar in structure to Frog and Toad, or Little Bear. Pinny is a little girl with a whole lot of freedom and so her day contains multitudinous adventures: she finds a wishing stone; she enjoys a session of cloud watching with her friends, Annie and Lou, and then manages to pick a bucket of blueberries before getting caught in a rainstorm. She encounters seagull, then bakes a cake, and it’s around here that it all begins to go a bit wrong—but with a little bit of ingenuity the day is salvaged. And the best thing of all as the sun goes down (and “[t]he sky changed from blue, to a deeper blue, then to dark blue”): there is going to be a tomorrow.

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Schwarz’s prose is wonderful—”the sun was shining again, making everything as warm as toast”—and so nice to put your mouth around. Pinny’s adventures are simple but lovely, and are certainly the kind that will inspire a child to dream of similar things. And the story is beautifully bought to life with Malenfant’s illustrations, with shades of blue and violet, simple drawings enlivened by wonderful texture, shadows and darkness at the edges that keep things interesting.

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And of course, Pinny in Summer inspired us too. Because I dare you not to read it and want to bake a wild blueberry cake like Pinny does. And so we did, even though our wild blueberries were not picked in buckets on blueberry hill, alas, but came from a bag in the freezer.

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All the same though, once we dumped the berries in the mix, the batter turned the same shade of purple as the pictures, which was perfect (and seeing the table set in the image above, you can probably get a good idea of why I love this book so).

The cake was delicious. We froze half for later. And we look forward to spending this summer reading about Pinny again and again.

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December 31, 2015

New year, new books, new teapot, etc.

IMG_20151231_140910We have had a stupidly crummy holiday, mostly for non-monumental reasons. A year ago I wrote this post about our family’s talent for leisure and enjoying ourselves—we were skating, movie-going, relaxing, lunching, going offline for an actual week, etc.—but we were showing none of those tendencies this time around. Things got off to a good start, but Harriet came down with a stomach bug on Christmas Eve that stayed around for a few days. Iris stopped sleeping over Christmas, and was conspiring to kill me. Stuart was diagnosed with strep throat, and while I was pretty well post-pneumonia, I was so tired and crabby. We weren’t terribly ambitious then—some days our big outing was to the grocery store. Though there were a few highlights—before it all went wrong, we had a fun day downtown(er) and got to visit Ben McNally Books, where I picked up Birdie by Tracey Lindberg, which I’m about to begin as soon as I publish this post. We had nice visits with my parents, who braved our company. Lunch at Fanny Chadwicks yesterday, though Stuart is still unable to eat solids, so he didn’t have the greatest time. Tonight we’re going to our friends for a New Years get-together, though we won’t be staying too long (and I am sure nobody else at the party is too upset about that. We’ve become social pariahs).

I did, however, get a lot of reading done, mostly because my evening companion took to going to bed at 8pm, and I took a holiday from work things and read all through nap times (bliss!). My holiday reads were not at all disappointing, mercifully, and I look forward to writing a post about them this week. My final read of the year was a gift from Stuart (who got me so many excellent bookish things), The Magician’s Book, by Laura Miller (and we’re going to be starting Prince Caspian in a few days and I am so excited). My final read of 2015 then, followed by my first read of 2016—Birdie. I really want to keep a focus on reading First Nations women writers.

IMG_20151231_132842Anyway, a disappointing holiday is winding down on the right note. Iris’s weird rash (of course she has a weird rash!) is clearing up, if that’s any indication. Today I did receive the great joy of not only a pair of Hunter wellies in the post, but a brand new teapot. And why did I need a teapot, you might ask, seeing as I came into possession of the greatest teapot on earth just six months ago? Well, on Christmas Day, my teapot got smashed, which led to sulking and petulance on my part, and put a damper on our holiday on top of everything, because I am shallow and materialistic. (But it’s a teapot! Not just any ordinary material.) The bright side of your teapot smashing though is that you get to wait for a new one to come in the post. (I wanted a London Pottery teapot, you see.) There seemed to be no more white polka-dots to be had for love nor money, but I was able to order a plain red one from the shop I’d bought the last one from in Bobcaygeon. And it arrived quickly and intact, alongside my new wellies which replaced a) the wellies I’d got for Christmas that didn’t fit and b) the wellies my mother-in-law bought me for my 26th birthday a decade ago and whose image was for a time my blog header and can still be seen if you scroll all the way down to the bottom of this page, and which finally started leaking after many years of service. So things are certainly on the up-and-up.

I’ve had a good year, even though it’s gone out with pneumonia (but then having pneumonia was terrific, from a reading point of view…). I am pleased that I sold my novel and am excited to turn it into an actually book over the course of this year, though I still can’t quite believe that’s going to happen. I read a lot of good books. I had a splendid trip to England, the land of teapots and wellies. I learned to write profiles, which was a new challenge—I wrote about Julie Morstad in Quill & Quire and have a cover story forthcoming in my alumni magazine. I’m pleased with my review of Marina Endicott’s new novel in The Globe and really, really proud of my essay on Ann-Marie Macdonald’s Adult Onset, which was another challenge and I’m so happy to have met it. I want to keep expanding my writerly horizons. Readerly ones too.

This fall has been exhausting. When I look back, it seems like getting pneumonia was inevitable. It doesn’t help that Iris’s sleep is so patchy, as it’s ever been. My resolution for 2016, if I had one, would probably involve getting more sleep, if that weren’t at the expense of so many things, but I will make an effort. It might also involve baking fewer cakes, but this kind of thing is why I don’t go in for resolutions in the first place.

Happy New Year to you, and thank you for reading!

September 7, 2015

Cake and Back to School

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Back to school tomorrow! Which means that we spent much of today at the CNE, which was excellent, and the prize-winning celery was as wonderful as I’d hoped for. (It’s basically the reason I go.) And we are so very hot, the weekend spent dripping with sweat and entertaining people in high humidity. Last night our best friends from kindergarten came for dinner, one of our now-regular togethers that involves too much wine and so much cake. Meeting these families was one of the best parts of last year, and I will miss them as our children move onto new classes and schools and our daily lives are no longer as connected. Although friendships can and do endure, as evidenced by tonight when my friends and former roommates Kate and Erin (and Kate’s husband Paul) came over last minute for pizza. The last-minute thing remarkable because Kate and Paul live in Vancouver, and we’ve not seen them in three years. But here they were tonight, with a cake even.  And what a cake? If my book ends up looking half as excellent as this one, I will be satisfied. (Apparently the image was inspired by my Mitzi Bytes pinterest board, because there is indeed such a thing.) I have the most terrific friends. Anyway, the convenient thing about all of this is that Harriet’s first day of school lunch is leftover pizza and cake, so her year is off to an excellent start. Wish us luck tomorrow as all the madness and fun begins!

April 1, 2015

Mrs. Peter’s Birthday Cake

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I’m about as crazy about literary cakes as I am about books illustrated by Marla Frazee (and written by Mary Ann Hoberman, no less), so I’ve been meaning to write about The Seven Silly Eaters for quite some time. A book that I’m actually ambivalent about, even though it has rhyming couplets. It’s down the other end of the spectrum from Mem Fox’s Harriet, You’ll Drive Me Wild, another book illustrated by Frazee. Harriet is the story of a mom who reaches her breaking point after being sorely tested, and she finally explodes at her extremely irritating (albeit loveable) daughter, and then apologizes and everything is okay. Because mothers are human. Getting angry and upset is what people do, and I think there’s nothing wrong with mothers modelling this. Imagine the child who’s gone through his entire life without learning the fact that people get upset sometimes, that one’s behaviour can have consequences; what a rude awakening the actual world is sure to be.

IMG_20150325_180036But then there is Mrs. Peters who seems to never have heard of birth control (with seven children in as many years) or setting limits. One by one, each of her children conspires to destroy her person and her cello-playing dreams by making  ridiculous culinary demands: her first child refuses his milk unless it’s warmed to a precise temperature; her second will only drink homemade pink lemonade;  third would only eat freshly made applesauce; with the fourth it’s oatmeal, unless that oatmeal has the suggestion of a lump and then he dumps it on the cat; the fifth demands homemade bread; and the twins will only eat eggs, poached for one and fried for the other.

And while Mrs. Peters is happy in her bubble of domestic chaos—this is certainly the life she chose and she likes the pace—the resentment does eventually seep in. Not overwhelmingly, and she seems to accept it the way she’s accepted everything. “What a foolish group of eaters/ Are my precious little Peters,” she muses as she strains the oatmeal for the 4000th time. She thinks they’ve forgotten her birthday, and then she goes to bed sad—has there ever been anything more pitiful than that?

She should have put a stop to the whole thing years ago. “Make your own fucking applesauce, Little Jack. I’ve got a cello to play.” Mothers are people. It’s a good thing for a child to know.

IMG_20150325_183659But! Here is the twist. The children have not forgotten their mother’s birthday. Instead, they’ve crept downstairs in the middle of the night to make their mother all their most beloved foods—and do note that they don’t think to make her favourite food. It is quite possible that they’ve never considered that she has one. And because she gave them all a fish instead of teaching them all to fish, proverbially speaking, they have no idea how to cook anything, and so they abandon the project in the middle of it all, their dubious concoctions dumped in a pot and stuffed in the oven.

Where Mrs. Peters discovers it in the morning: miraculously, a pink and plump and perfect cake!

IMG_20150325_183715Naturally, we wanted to make it. The Seven Silly Eaters is a book that was born to have a recipe at the end, but there is none. Sadly. And we’re not the only people who thought so (google it: the Internet is rife with parent bloggers making Mrs. Peters’ birthday cake)—due to such a huge demand, Mary Ann Hoberman herself came up with a Mrs. Peters’ birthday cake recipe! So we made it too. Though I thought it was cheating because lemon juice in the milk (to create buttermilk) isn’t really pink lemonade, and she pinks the cake with red food colouring. So I decided to add lemon zest to the cake to make the lemon more authentic, and had the clever idea to make it pink by adding pureed beets to the applesauce (which isn’t in the recipe at all—perhaps Mrs. Peters went on to have a beetroot-loving eighth child?). My clever idea fizzled out, however, because by the time the cake was done, all the pinkness appeared to have been baked out of it. Alas. But the cake was totally delicious. Maybe not delicious enough to make up for more than seven years of domestic tyranny, but I was not asking such things from it.

IMG_20150325_190007We love this book. I hope I haven’t suggested otherwise. Frazee’s illustrations are so chock full of detail that they can be explored for ages, and there are all kinds of extra-textual stories going on in the background. The family dynamic is fascinating to consider, and perhaps it’s a good discussion point for children—what happens when a family allows its mother to be treated this way? It’s a call for everyone to do her share. It’s a plea for less ridiculousness when it comes to the demands of picky-eaters. But mostly, it’s a cautionary tale for mothers, I like to think. To have limits and live inside them, to not give and give until you have nothing left for yourself. To admit that you too are a person whose needs must be met, and therein lies the negotiation of family life—a useful education for any child.

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