Jonah recently had a birthday. The Saturday before said birthday, we had the ‘Family/Family Friends Party’! This is a very odd mixture of people. It is also a mixture of very odd people. I mean there are a couple of ‘normals’ thrown in to keep things interesting, but most of us are knowingly guilty of oddness aforethought. A party at my house tends to end up with people talking loudly, singing classic rock songs and gospel hymns, quoting Monty Python and The Princess Bride, Jonah wandering around shoving his sketch pad at guests, and a few normal people sitting on the sofa looking confused and slightly overwhelmed.
And…food! I love food. Normally, I cook a lot when we have parties. However, A) I was scheduled to work the night before and B) the birthday boy gets to pick the food. So, the food for this party was an eclectic mix of make ahead menus. We had chicken cacciatore, salad, green beans, and garlic toast for lunch. Dinner was French toast casserole, bacon, and slow fried potatoes. For his cake, Jonah picked Baked Alaska with orange sherbet and yellow cake.
I knew he liked everything he picked, but I also knew he hadn’t really picked his favorite. He was trying to make things easier for me. Jonah’s all time favorite meal is chicken fried steak, mashed potatoes, cream gravy, and fresh corn on the cob. (Carb overload much?) So, I promised to make that on his actual birthday.
…There was illicit frosting and the aiding and abetting of a prison break.
The day of Jonah’s real birthday came around, and Grace asked if she could make his cake. ABSOLUTELY! If she makes the cake, I can go swim for an hour and pretend I’m a lady of leisure! What I should’ve realized is that Grace likes surprises or rather Grace likes to surprise people…and Jonah’s room is downstairs adjacent to the open-plan living/dining/KITCHEN. I swear to goodness the next hour and a half of my life looked like a particularly risky episode of Mission Impossible.
I watched her debate on the best secret spot to stage her illicit cake laboratory. I could see her considering the downstairs loo and Harry’s room. Luckily, hygiene won out before I had to interfere, and she decided on Harry’s room. Obviously, Harry’s room is a small cupboard under the stairs. It’s jam-packed with jars of canned food, paper goods, and board games. Measuring and mixing in there required some Cirque Du Soleil style contortionist skills.
She decided to make her famous Sauerkraut Cake. I can’t remember where we originally got the recipe, but I’m sure it was from a depression era cookbook. It sounds ghastly, but makes a moist tender slightly spicy chocolate cake that is to die for! I showed Grace how to make it when she was six or seven, and it has been HER recipe ever since.
After announcing loudly, that she had forgotten to bring the eggs in she sauntered outside to the shop. She returned with a feed scoop full of eggs. I watched as she removed the eggs into a carton and discreetly off loaded a camouflaged pint jar of sauerkraut into the cupboard under the sink. After making sure Jonah was thoroughly entranced with one of his new birthday movies, she rinsed, drained, and chopped the kraut. Then, she smuggled it into Harry’s room.
Do you remember those scenes from Tom and Jerry when Tom was trying to sneak up on Jerry? He would lie flat-out on the floor and walk along on his fingers and toes wrapping his body around each corner of the wall, while piano keys tinkled a high-pitched accompaniment. Well, picture that only with a fourteen year old girl in place of Tom and the Mission Impossible theme playing for heightened drama.
She slithered back and forth to the pantry in like an agent trained by the FBI, CIA, or MI5. Each time, returning with cocoa, flour, sugar, or eggs. At one point, she was sliding along the floor beside the couch I lay on blogging. Jonah came out of his room and stood for several tension-filled minutes chatting with me over the back of the couch.
Grace silently stashed her contraband under the couch and lay as still as possible. Jonah told me all about his movie, complained that the kids were too busy to join him for it, and headed off for a snack. Once he reached the kitchen, Grace would be visible if he looked back at me, so as he walked away she ‘slunk’ Grinch style the opposite way into the loo and hid beside the egg incubator. He. Suspected. Nothing. (What? You don’t hide an incubator in your guest loo? We live on a farm. Weird things happen.)
Once she was ready to bake, the ante was upped. Even the joys of a monster movie wouldn’t stop Jonah from noticing the enticing aroma of chocolate wafting through the house. I was assigned a role. Jonah likes showers. Jonah likes r e a l l y long showers. Actually, his hot water usage is such a bone of contention, that I have threatened to install a cutoff valve that only affects his shower. However, for the sake of birthday surprises, I went in and told him I was planning a laundry marathon that afternoon. So, if he wanted a hot shower now would be his window of opportunity. I laughingly told him that since it was his birthday, I wouldn’t even time him. He was puzzled, but innocently trusting.
Jonah’s unlimited birthday shower was long enough that Grace baked the cake, moved it upstairs to cool, and used an exhaust fan to blow the delicious scent out the open window. Jonah returned to his movie, and I moved to the pool.
I was swimming laps, when Grace came out to discuss her latest conundrum. She had made up a frosting recipe she wanted to put on the cake, but it would require the use of the Kitchenaid. She was certain that if he heard the Kitchenaid come on, Jonah would come out snooping. I tossed out a few suggestions, but none seemed to satisfy her. Finally, she leaped from the edge of the pool (onto the dry land side) and announced that she had an idea. I returned to my laps.
Twenty minutes later, she came back out with a spoonful of frosting for me to try. By this time, I was just floating peacefully on the surface of the water. So, I paddled over and tasted. It was great! “How did you manage to mix it?” I asked
After a snickering laugh, she confessed. She had snuck out to the shop, shut it up tightly, and released one black rabbit. She then went in and told Jonah she had found several rabbits out. She had closed the shop, she told him, and managed to catch all but one. However, now she was over-heated and not feeling well. Could he possibly try to catch the last one. Jonah, knowing how desperate Grace has to be to ask for help, immediately pulled on boots and went out.
She explained to me, that since he isn’t great at catching rabbits, she knew this would buy her at least ten minutes to mix the frosting and move it upstairs. (Grace catches rabbits quickly and smoothly, like a wild cat. Jonah on the other-hand is strong, but a bit ungainly. He is more grizzly bear than wild cat. Plus, the rabbits find him scary and hide from him.) However, when she headed back outside (after her frosting shenanigans were accomplished), she was greeted by the sight of Sam opening the shop door to reveal Jonah holding the supposed miscreant by the hind feet.
Jonah was so proud of himself for catching it. However, in true Jonah fashion, he was delivering a lecture to the rabbit on the evils of escaping, hiding, and scratching. He explained to it in no uncertain terms that he would have held it gently like a normal rabbit if it hadn’t been “attempting to rake the flesh from my forearms with your vicious rear claws, which are designed you know, to disembowel opponents in fierce battles for the fairer sex…” Yes, Jonah does monologue, talk to animals like they’re people, and have frequent bouts of ‘Oral Diarrhea”. It’s okay, we still love him and well, we all chat with animals more comfortably than people.
Grace confessed later that the rabbit hadn’t been keen on its ‘escape’ from the beginning. It sat looking up at the pen of its friends, trying to figure out how to rejoin them. She actually had to pick up the rabbit and move it to several hiding places before it stopped simply coming back to the door of its home. “But, don’t tell Jonah,” she said, “he’s feeling like the mighty rabbit hunter!”
I fried steak with all the trimmings for supper and we had a great night! We actually played a couple of games before we had cake, because, there wasn’t a lot of spare space among the steak, potatoes, and corn. However, we distracted Jonah long enough for Grace to bring down her decorated masterpiece. He was sitting in the living room talking. (You can usually bet Jonah is talking if he’s awake.) Grace added the candles and lit them. We all burst into “Happy Birthday to You” and Jonah turned in surprise and saw the cake. The wonderful look on his face was second only to his expression when Grace confessed, that the escaping rabbit had been aided and abetted all for the sake of smooth frosting!
By the way, if the FBI is recruiting, I know a kid with great brains, agility, and presence of mind.
UnFortunately, she has serious issues following orders she thinks are wrong or pointless. Oh, well! If Le Cordon Bleu Culinary Institute is recruiting, they should taste that frosting she ‘invented’! (I’d rather have her dueling with whisks than taking on Counter Intelligence Agents anyway! 😉 )
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