Thursday, March 11, 2010

The Story of a Chocolate Cake

We buy our fresh produce each week at a veggie market. That might sound fancy to some of you, but I promise it’s not. Our local veggie market has no heat, the ceiling seems to be in constant need of repair. The leek farmer tends to be iffy on his deliveries. The organic tortilla chip company hasn’t delivered in so long that even the clerk is beginning to wonder what the hold up is. I can walk around the entire inside of the shop in about 10 seconds and the kids can, and do, run it in less then 5. It constantly needs to be mopped, there’s gobs of boxes hanging out the back door which is never closed. Farmers traipse in and out daily with muddy boots delivering fresh produce.

But we like our veggie shed. They sell locally grown produce and half of it tends to be organic. They keep us well supplied with the things we need and have accepted us as one of the regulars. They give us free grapes or melon or whatever tasty bits are laying on the counter in need of being used up quickly. It always smells of fresh veggies and occasionally Johnny is cooking up something really good in the kitchen.

So recently when they started carrying organic beef we were rather excited about it. We normally buy our organic beef from the grocer but for reasons I can’t fully explain (it’s really hard to concentrate on what the butcher is saying when you can’t get over the fact that he seems to be winking every few words..) other then something about customs. Which is truly silly that meat is being held up in customs or over customs forms because there’s a great organic beef farm not far from where we live, but apparently they sell their meat to the mainland.. Either way I’m getting away from chocolate cake.

We decided to try out one packet of this organic beef. We took it home and popped it in the freezer. In one of my many travels around cyberspace I stumbled upon a new recipe and it was put in the menu rotation this past week. On the appropriate day I pulled out our beef to defrost. When dinner time rolled around I opened the package and thought it smelled odd, but that’s not saying much.

I have a huge aversion to raw meat or cooked meat or just any meat to be honest. It’s a weird hiccup I have. I can stand there examining a dead animal on a nature walk while assuring Morgan he can stop screaming because it won’t hurt him and that it’s not nightmare worthy (he can handle bones but not carcasses.) Take me in a butchery and even the butcher starts to get concerned. I’ve been known to hold my breath and run through them as fast as I can. Or to hold my breath tell them what I need, dash out the door gasp for air and run back in. They use to be concerned about this behavior, but I’m pretty sure they are use to it now because they just shout out the door, “Anything else?”

So the fact that the meat didn’t smell quite right was no biggie to me. It seemed normal for it not to smell quite right. I threw it in the pan and started to brown it up, but as it browned that “not quite right” smell was quite familiar to my nose. There are smells in life you just don’t forget and growing up on a goat farm you kinda remember the smell of goat. So I’m standing there and I’m stirring this meat and I’m thinking that I might really have lost it this time.

I call Mr Scarecrow to the kitchen and ask him to sniff the meat. This is also not an absurd or abnormal request. He obliged and stuck his nose in the pan. He said nothing was amiss and I decided I was just freakier then normal. I added the rest of the ingredients to the pan and stirred it up. I tried the smallest bite I could, but I was sure it tasted weird.

Twenty minutes later I served a sloppy-joe meat on top of plates of rice. I called everyone to the table and told them to dig in. I decided that instead of attacking my salad I’d gut it up and eat a bite of my meat first. There’s only one way to get over a mental block, right? So I did. I pretended it was great and I ate more.

Morgan dug in with gusto and Jayden ignored his meat, very normal at our house. It was Mr Scarecrow that acted weird. He ate a bite and looked funny and then took another bite. His third bite was much less appealing because eventually he spit it back out on his plate. That is not normal behavior! This is the same guy who nearly gagged on over salted pasta once because he didn’t want to ask me if I’d tasted it yet.

He turns and says, “Does this, you know, taste funny to you?”

I’m eating a bite of the most disgusting thing I’ve ever tasted but I boldly say, “No, of course it doesn’t. You said it smelled fine and I’m gutting it up and eating it.”

He looks at me. I swallow, “Okay, it tastes terrible. I swear it tastes like goat, but we bought beef!”

Then, Mr Scarecrow looks me square in the eyes and says, “You never forget the taste of goat.” I pretended not to gag and decided salad was way better then meat. The guys, however, needed a trip to the Golden Arches to wash the unusual flavor of goat out of their mouthes.

We get home and decided that what we really needed was a big fat chocolate cake, but we don’t have one. It’s not like I intentionally fed my family goat now is it? I mean, I’ve fed them some pretty freaky things like spinach smoothies, and tofu based ice cream. I’ve convinced my kids that the green specks of spinach in their brownies are nothing more then secret ingredients. But, I never ever had any intention of feeding them goat. It just wasn’t on my to-do list! Had I intended to feed them goat, I would have had a chocolate cake ready, but they probably would have been on to me!

Bad meals, or ones under great question and scrutiny often get accompanied by some amazing desert. The trick is keeping the desert under wraps until they’ve tasted the food, cause otherwise they catch on. So when they went to bed without chocolate cake they were pretty disappointed, and I gotta say I didn’t blame them.

The real problem arose when they suffered through another day lamenting the fact that they’d eaten goat the night before and there were still no signs of chocolate cake around the house. In fact, I was pretty sure they were planning a revolt so on Friday I baked them chocolate cake. There was much excitement over chocolate cake considering it’s normally only served on birthdays. There was even more excitement when I threw a mint filling between the two layers and topped it with an agave sweetened chocolate icing. After all, it’s not every day you eat goat now, is it?

Note: Our mint filing was 6 oz of cream cheese mixed with 1/4 t peppermint extract 1/4 t of stevia and 2 t of coconut sugar. We mixed it up and added enough milk so it was easily spreadable. We make the agave icing by using about 1/4 t stevia and 2 T of agave or maple syrup. You'll need to milk to the recipe to help it reach a spreadable consistency.

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