When this happens, I sit down and make a list. I always find that lists can be surprisingly useful in situations like these.
Under LIKES, I wrote:
COMING HOME TO A HOUSE THAT ISN’T IN PIECES
FOOD THAT I HAVEN’T INCINERATED
Under DISLIKES, I wrote:
REBUILDING THE HOUSE
APOLOGIZING TO THE NEIGHBORS
FENDING OFF LAWSUITS
BURYING THE RESULT OF THE LATEST RECIPE I’VE TRIED OUT
FUMIGATING THE HOUSE
TAKING A HANDFUL OF BLOOD PRESSURE PILLS EVERY DAY
There seemed to be an emerging pattern here.
See what I mean about lists?
I settled on the following: A gift certificate for tools at Coastal Tool, an oil change for his truck, and an affidavit stating that I will not prepare food for an entire year. That ought to do it.
However, the ‘entire year’ didn’t begin until his birthday, and I had a cake to bake!
Stij likes Devil’s food cake with Cool Whip icing, so I assembled the usual ingredients: flour, sugar, cocoa powder, etc.
I had Cool Whip in the fridge, so that was covered.
Stij would be out on a job all that day, so I would be free to take my time.
I spent the morning carefully measuring, pureeing, and mixing, and by noon, the cake was in the oven. When the timer rang an hour later, I dashed to the stove, and, donning oven mitts, withdrew the most perfect cake you ever saw. It would have brought a tear to your eye—it did to mine. Never had anything I ever cooked turned out so well. I was proud…very proud.
After it cooled, I put it in a lidded cake pan and stashed it in the pantry. I’d frost it later.
A couple of days passed and it was Stij’s birthday at last.
Though I was thrilled with how well my cake had turned out, I wasn’t so heady with success that I was willing to chance birthday dinner, so I took him out for Chinese, which we both enjoyed.
Upon arriving home, I sent him to the living room, and fetched the cake. The candles were already in it, so I lit them and brought it to Stij, singing and causing the Hill sisters to spin in their graves like lathes.
Once I put it down and he blew out the candles, I cut it and gave him a slice. He looked really pleased until I told him I made it.
“You made this? Really?”
“Wow. It looks delicious. Good job, hon,” he said, taking a big mouthful...
...which he immediately spit out.
“What in the world did you put in this cake?”
“Flour, sugar, okra, milk, eggs, Tabasco sauce, confectioner’s sugar, butter, kale, and cocoa powder.”
“You don’t EVER put okra, Tabasco sauce, and kale in a Devil’s Food cake!”
“Because it tastes like hell.”