Why Shannon is Not Martha Stewart

March 27, 2005 - 12:00am -- swingbug

It seems like everybody has that one attempted holiday meal that they never live down. Once at Thanksgiving my Uncle Steve put too much milk in the mashed potatoes. We all graciously thanked him for bringing the Cream of Wheat amid peals of laughter, and not a Thanksgiving goes by now that we don't recall this event as we pass around the mashed potatoes.

My spectacular blunder shall be known as The Coconut Chicken Cake Incident of Easter Dinner, 2005.

I clipped this little idea out of a Martha Stewart magazine. They were these lovely little cupcakes that you frosted upside down and covered with toasted coconut flakes. They're supposed to come out looking like little chicks and the ones in the magazine picture were quite charming.

We went to Kirkwood for Easter and I brought the necessary materials complete with Martha's instructions with me. True, I picked up boxed cake and frosting mixes at the store, but they were really good organic mixes. I threw the powder and the few ingredients in the bowl and mixed everything around and then poured it into my cupcake tin.

I live in the Sacramento Valley. I think my house is something like 10 feet about sea level. What do I know about high altitude cooking?

Very little, as it turns out.

About 5 minutes into the cooking time, someone says, "What's burning?" I open the oven door and smoke pours out. I shut the door quickly. Everyone gathers around and I turn on the light. The cupcake tin is a frothy volcano of batter fuming and fizzing over the sides on to the over floor. Everyone looks at me. I look at the box. It doesn't have anything to say for itself.

The good news was that the cupcakes themselves, if you could still call them that, weren't burnt. It was just the stuff burning on the bottom. My mother-in-law, Alliee, produced a cookie sheet and slid it under the bubbling eruption to catch the vanilla lava. I continued to peer anxiously through the door. When the timer when off, Alliee peered in with me.

"How do I know when they're done?"

"They should probably stop dripping first."


The dripping slowed then stopped. The cupcakes sank inwards. I turned off the oven and yelled at them. "If you'd had the sense to stay in your cups, then you wouldn't be empty now!" They didn't respond.

As it turned out, I had very little cake remaining and it was no longer in a cup formation, but the resulting mash didn't taste all that bad, and I've never been one who knows when to quit, so I pressed onward. I scooped out the cake remains while it was still warm, reformed the mash into balls with my hands, some frosting, and jedi mind tricks, and then quickly covered them in coconut before they had time to decoalesce.

The result was some extremely bloated, lumpy looking chicks. Robert looked at them, lined up on their little plates and tilted his head.

"What are those little furry things from Star Trek called? The ones that took over the Enterprise."

"Tribbles?" I offered up, hestitantly.

"Yes! Tribbles! They look like tribbles."

I nod, a little crest-fallen. I showed him the picture of Martha's chicken cakes, which I still desperately clung to. He looked from the picture to the tribbles to the picture again. "I like yours better," he said. "No, really. I do. They're cute."

Little brothers are cool. If you don't already have one, I highly recommend picking one up.

Once the smoke had cleared and the oven had been cleaned, the tribbles were pronounced edible and even tasty, so it wasn't a total loss. At least it was worth it for the comic relief.

Here are some pictures of the "Great Tribble Incident of Easter 2005." Tribble or chick? You decide. Happy Easter, everybody.

Martha's Chicks Shannon's Chicks Tribbles
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