Wednesday, December 28, 2005

The Bouche-Off That Wasn't

Originally uploaded by Kit Pollard.

I have been known, on occasion, to bite off more than I can chew. Not so much literally (my actual bites are as delicate and ladylike as can be), but in the figurative sense, oh, can I.

That is exactly what happened to me this Christmas, and my family was caught in the crosshairs. Early in December, as I read the holiday issue of Food & Wine, I developed a grand plan: I would make a bouche de Noel for Christmas Eve dinner at my parents. The magazine included a great recipe for a fancy, modern bouche - a perfect opportunity for me to showcase my newfound cooking talent. To show off.

I called my mom to let her know that she didn't need to worry about making dessert that night. I'd handle it. News spread to my sister, a senior in college. Never one to turn down a chalenge, she announced that she would make an alternate bouche for our Christmas Eve dinner. We'd have a bouche-off.

She found a Paula Deen recipe and the month of December was filled with the kind of trash-talking at which competitive sisters excel. It was good.

And then came the week of Christmas. And the six MAJOR social events on my calendar for that week, including my 30th birthday. And the copius amount of red wine that went with those social events, not to mention the lack of sleep or exercise and the unhealthy eating.

Excuses, excuses. I know. Trust me, I know. But when I woke up on December 24th, the absolute last thing I wanted to do was go to the store for ingredients and bake a cake. So I did the unthinkable: I forfeited.

I called my mother and asked if it would be OK if I bailed on the bouche. My sister was nearly finished with her cake by the time I hauled myself out of bed. Under normal circumstances, that knowledge would've sent me straight to the store, not to be defeated. But after the week I'd had, all I could do was whimper, "We don't really need two bouches, do we?"

My mother took pity on me and agreed. I laid back down on the sofa and watched another episode of Barefoot. And my sister kept baking.

And her cake was great - a pumpkin roll with a toffee and caramel topping - a fantastic combination of moist cake and mild cream. It looked beautiful dusted with powdered sugar and garnished with greenery cut from my parents' yard.

So, I concede. Erin's cake was great. And I am lazy.

But there's always next year.

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