Posted by: Calvin | November 27, 2008

The Little Voice

Yesterday, I took the day off of work.  The only unchangeable plans I had for the day were violin lessons for the boys and dropping Baseball Boy off at his friend’s house.  When I got to his friend’s house, friend’s mom Argentina asked me to join them at California Pizza Kitchen.  Her SIL Chicago Gal was in town.  Hanging out with them sounded much more fun than my errand filled to do list, so I gladly accepted. 

While at lunch they told me that Argentina’s daughters had chosen a cake recipe to make for their Thanksgiving dessert.  I was invited to stay to help make the cake.  Chicago Gal and I went to the grocery store to pick up a few needed ingredients and Argentina sneaked away to Costco to get a coveted gift for the girls. 

Chicago Gal and I decided to get started on the cake before Argentina got home.  It was a four layer Chocolate Mousse Cake.  Neither Chicago Gal nor I majored or minored in baking, cooking or any other domestic skill, but we both have law degrees and passed three bar exams between us.  How hard could it be?  Or is it . . . How naive could we be?  Let’s just say there were easily 7 ingredients that I do not keep in my kitchen, 2 of which I had never heard of, and 5 steps that I have only seen demonstrated on the Food Network.   I did not let on that I was in over my head.  I just sat back and watched Chicago Gal do all of the work. 

While mixing, sifting, stirring, measuring and folding, we got to talking about our mutual friend Alto2 and the big spread that she was single-handily making for her Thanksgiving feast.  I read Alto2’s blog post with her superb menu aloud and we both contemplated how much work and skill such a menu would require.

Meanwhile, the cake batter was ready with minimal issues.  Chicago Gal was doing just fine without assistance from the peanut gallery . . . UNTIL . . . the recipe said to line a shallow baking pan with parchment paper.  Chicago Gal looked for parchment paper in Argentina’s magnificent kitchen and couldn’t find any.  She grabbed the wax paper.  I said, “Are you sure it is a good idea to use wax paper?”  She said, “sure Argentina said it should be fine.”  I told her about the time I baked with wax paper and how rancid the burned paper made my house smell.  The smell lasted LONG after the smoke detectors were disconnected.  We agreed that we needed an expert opinion.  Of course, I called Alto2.  Alto2 agreed with my assessment on the wax paper and suggested greasing the bottom of the pan then sprinkling sugar over the grease.  With this excellent advice, we were off on a righted course.  I apologized for interrupting Alto2’s busy day and said my goodbyes.

The pan was soon ready for the oven.  I worried greatly when I saw that the batter was quite close to the rim of the pan.  There was little room for the cake to rise, but what did I know?  I reread the recipe and we were using the right type of pan.  Chicago Gal put the cake into the oven and . . . “Oh Sh*t” . . . the rack was uneven.  The batter was slowly seeping toward the edge. Chicago Gal was loudly remarking on the situation, and I was loudly saying, “Get it out, get it out!”  Over our competing yells, I heard a little voice . . . “What is happening?”  What is wrong?”  “Are you there?”  As Chicago Gal got the cake out in the nick of time, I could focus on the little voice.  What the heck was the little voice?

I listened more intently and determined the direction from which the little voice was coming – well below my ear level.  I looked down and noticed I still had my cell phone in my hand.  The screen read “Connected” with Alto2’s name.  In the frantic scurry, I had accidentally redialed Alto2’s number.  She heard the whole thing. 

So in summary to this point, while one well educated woman made a bazillion course meal for 14 discriminating diners, two other well educated women could barely make a cake!

Luckily, Argentina came home in time to assist with the mousse part of the cake.  In the end, the cake did not look exactly like the picture in the cook book, but it did taste great.

In case you ware wondering how I knew how it tasted, fortunately the picture in the recipe book was of a cake cut so the inside was on the outside leaving the layers exposed.  It gave us a great excuse to cut the cake ends off so the cake would look like the picture.  We got out 5 forks and ate the two ends . . . DELICIOUS!


On this Thanksgiving, I am thankful for my girlfriends; for those who are with me and those who are there for me.  They all keep me sane!



  1. This whole scene isn’t very hard to picture…you are funny.

    Are you sure there was no alcohol involved?

  2. Great story! Nothing really beats a group project with friends. And from the picture it certainly look like you were all enjoying the results of your efforts!

  3. Looks like the results were enjoyable…..and at least you provided some entertainment for Alto2 along the way!

  4. It sounds like a Pepperidge Farm cake I buy from the frozen section and pretend to have made whenever we have company. Do you have the recipe for your creation?

  5. I am so jealous.

  6. UPDATE: I happened to have the tv on in my bedroom the other day. On a walk through to get something out of my closet, I noticed that Martha Stewart was making a shallow cake like we had made. Sure enough, in the 30 seconds I took to stop an watch she said, “you can line the pan with parchmont or wax paper . . ..” Argentina’s plan would have been just fine!

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