It's been over a month now, and I think I'm ready to share the truth about the birthday cupcakes. There are a few people out there who already know; now this sad story is going to be available to the general public for the first time. (Check local listings)
I'm not very good about nutrition, to say the least. I take my vitamins every day, but my grandmother would have conniptions if she knew how little vegetable matter I actually consume in a week. I start out with the best intentions; A. doesn't like veggies, but I buy them for myself, and then I get to feel guilty when I open the crisper drawer in the fridge a week later and clean out the brown goop that has accumulated. But I take my vitamins every day... I know, it's not the same thing. You don't have to tell me.
I am, however, a bit more careful about what Simon eats. I'm not obsessive about organic stuff, and he has, in fact, tasted ice cream. Still, he and I eat whole-grain bread because I'd rather he get used to that than the white stuff. He eats a lot of veggies; sadly, they're in mush form most of the time, and not real appetizing to me.
Maybe that's why I decided to try to do the SuperMom thing for his birthday and make a carrot-cake for him. Not just any carrot cake, either; the one from "What to Expect the First Year," with wheat germ and whole-grain flour and carrots cooked in apple juice. We went to the bulk barn for most of the ingredients; they've got a good selection of crunchy-granola stuff there, and you don't have to buy a 30 lb. bag of it to get the 3 cups you need. While we were there I also bought apple butter, multigrain pancake mix, wheat germ, dried fruit (for me) and spaghetti.
See where this is going yet?
The thing is, for some reason the Bulk Barn doesn't provide any means of labelling your bags, just little twist-ties to close them with. I got home and found myself completely unable to distinguish between the whole-grain flour, the whole-wheat flour, and the multigrain pancake mix. Oops. In case you're wondering, they all taste the same if you try to do a Lik-M-Aid taste test on them.
I took my best guess and went to work. I figured either flour should work, so I had a 66% chance of the cake turning out just fine. (See, kids? You do use some of that math stuff later in life!)
I boiled the carrots in the apple juice until they were soft. I mixed my dry ingredients, and I pureed my carrots with raisins. It did not look appetizing, but everything was going well, until I mixed the wet and dry ingredients. Um, yeah... my batter bubbled. It was like a sick, brown, witch's birthday-brew. It swelled until it filled the bowl.
As I watched my batter bubble, I thought about what Martha Stewart would do. I quickly realized that Martha would never have found herself in this situation, partly because everything would be neatly organized and labelled, and partly because if anyone let this happen, they'd be fired before the raisins hit the blender. Still, what would she do if, by some great cosmic accident, she did find herself in my situation?
Well obviously she'd toss the batter, make a run back to the store, re-purchase the ingredients and try again, possibly waiting until morning (though I don't think she actually sleeps).
Screw that, Martha I thought as I poured my puffy-looking cake mix into a dozen muffin cups. Either they'll be fine or they won't. I had already decided to buy a backup cake for any grownups who weren't tempted by the very healthy cupcakes, so if things went south, we'd just have that. It was late, I was tired, and the oven was already hot.
Well, they looked OK when they came out of the oven. They smelled fantastic. So they were a bit dense. Nobody complained, especially Simon. He loved them, and he made a nice mess all over is high-chair with them just like a first birthday-boy should.
So, what did I learn from this experience? Well, for one thing, I learned that Betty Crocker is my new best friend, and her reasonably-priced cake kits will be the extent of my adventures in baking for the next little while. More importantly, though, I think I learned that no matter how hard you try to be SuperMom, no matter how hard you try to get it right... stuff's not always going to turn out the way you wanted or expected. I guess you just pray that your best was good enough, and try to enjoy things the way they are... even if the cupcakes are a little heavy!