Saturday, July 25, 2009

Anybody home?

I'm not, but I'm on the way. Well, I'm on my way to Manitoba for a brief visit with friends, and then I'll be on the way home. We left Casper, Wyoming at about 9 o'clock this morning, and we've settled in for the night at Glendive, Montana. We got here at 5 p.m. I haven't had the courage to go out for a walk, because I think it's still hellishly hot outside. The air conditioner is churning away, keeping the Turtle cool inside. Turtle's shell is festooned with ex-grasshoppers. I think I may just stay indoors.

Speaking of walks, I haven't had any since I left home. Nor have I paid much attention to my weight loss goals. I can tell, too. I feel puffy. This is what I ate while I was at my sister's house: brisket done on the barbecue; potato salad; deviled eggs; homemade pea soup with corn bread; birthday cake; another birthday cake; a third cake that was not a birthday cake (more on that, later); Chinese dinner out; a lovely chicken dinner at the Petroleum Club, with cherries jubilee for dessert; six Pringles potato chips; and anything else that wasn't actually tied down. Did I mention that my sister is a wonderful cook?

That third cake, the one that wasn't a birthday cake? I baked that, myself. It was an almond-meringue torte, a specialty of my mother's. Gracie couldn't remember it. Now that she's eaten it, she still can't. It seems it must be a recipe that Mom acquired after Gracie left home. It's very, very good. It goes like this:

Mix up a yellow cake mix (2x9" layers). Put the batter in prepared cake pans. Make meringue (I used 4 egg whites). Spread the meringue over the batter. Sprinkle sliced almonds over the meringue - one package from the baking section of the market covered both layers - and then sprinkle cinnamon and sugar over the almonds. Bake the cake as per package directions. The meringue bakes down to a crispy crust.

When the cake is done, cool it. Make up a package of vanilla pudding and cool that, too. Then split the cake layers. Put the bottomest layerette on a plate and spread half the vanilla pudding on it. Put the second (almond-encrusted)layerette on top of it, followed by the third. Spread the rest of the vanilla pudding on that, and top it with the topmost, levelest almond-encrusted layerette. For some reason, I like this cake best after it's been refrigerated for a while, but it's great when it's fresh, too.

You will note that I used cake mix and pudding mix. Our mother, having grown up during the Great Depression, thought that cake mixes and such were gifts from god. It would never have occurred to her to bake anything from scratch (except pie crust, which she made splendidly). I'm sure this cake would also be delicious if made from scratch, but I've never done it that way, because it wouldn't be traditional. ;>)

So. While I was with my sister, mostly I ate - but we also talked a lot, and she introduced me to the show "Malcolm in the Middle", which she only discovered recently. She says that Jane Kaczmarek is in fact our mother - or rather, her character is. We watched the show together, laughing and reminiscing.

Somehow, we fit in visits to three local museums, a trip to the mall, two singing engagements, and a six-hour round trip to Fort Robinson in Nebraska. I did take some photos, and I'll post them some time soon. Right now, I just wanted to let you know that I'm still out here. Now I'll go see what you've had to say while I was away.

p.s. I should mention that the hint about vapour lock seems to have been right on the money. We had no vapour lock today, even though we were up at around 5,400 feet early in the day. We're down to 2,265 feet now, so I doubt we'll have any more trouble with the vapours.


Rose Marie Raccioppi said...

You conjure up many a memory! I remember the awe expressed when with an added ingredient or two, a bit of twirl and swirl "the mix" was magically transformed to a savory delight.

Much like your words...

John Hayes said...

So glad you had such a good time, & good you were able to relax & enjoy yourself. It is hellishly hot thru this whole part of the west--bet the coast will feel really good!

Reya Mellicker said...

Almond meringue tarte? That sounds delicious. Hey life is short. You might as well enjoy your vaca!

T. Clear said...

This cake sounds absolutely divine. I've seen this recipe before, and have been intrigued. I'm going to make it as soon as I get back home -- where I have proper cake pans. (Oh blast that -- I'm going to buy some proper cake pans and make it here!)

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