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Tuesday
Oct232012

My Cup Runneth Over

You know they say,"Don't cry over spilled milk."

I laughed instead. They also say certain combinations of things are recipes for disasters. You are looking at one of those combinations: Christina + anything in the kitchen.

Michaela and I made cupcakes and frosting for a presentation she gave today. The first cupcakes we made Saturday; they were for trying out the decorating technique she was planning on showing her class. I made frosting and she practiced. It went just fine. I had put the frosting in the fridge so it wouldn't get too melty (it was homemade buttercream), and when I pulled it out and put some in a disposable decorating bag and added a tip to it, she squeezed it for a few seconds and it was quite squishy. (Just so you know, I tried several, more sophisticated words there and none seemed right: malleable, pliable, elastic. "Squishy" won.) 

Monday night I began the process of official cupcake-making and official frosting-making after Eliana went to bed. I had a box mix and thought,"This is going to be a breeze!" How hard is it to make a box mix? And then powdered sugar frosting? Pffft. No problem.

Unless you have no eggs. Then you have a problem. Fortunately, Mike was willing and able to go to the store and save me from my own exceptionally poor planning skills. He returned and it was back to the grind! I whipped up those cupcakes and popped them into the oven. Just as I did, Mike came in the kitchen and said,"You're not doing something you've never done before? An experiment?" My quick reply? "Of course I am!" And, indeed, I did. I made a gluten-free recipe. I like to live on the wild side. 

(By the way, it was totally worth it to make the special cupcakes. One kid in her class eats gluten-free. She did her demonstration, and he participated (every child had a cupcake and a decorating bag). Then he set his cupcake aside, without complaining a bit. His mom leaned over and said,"It's gluten-free, you can eat it!" and his face lit up like he just won on The Price is Right! He was so excited. It was A Sweet Moment.)

(I can't say I personally care for the gluten-free cupcake, but the kids put so much frosting on their cakes that WOULD YOU LIKE SOME CUPCAKE WITH YOUR FROSTING? and I don't think they cared a bit.)

So. The cupcakes came out of the oven just fine (quite nice and tall, actually). I started working on the frosting. I creamed the butter. I added the powdered sugar. Then came some milk and a bit of vanilla. More powdered sugar. You know the drill. And it was coming along nicely. Oh so deliciously, in fact.

My next step was to fill the bags so that we just had to toss everything into the car in the morning without a worry or a care. All would be ready and prepared. Because I'm like a Boy Scout. In no way ever. 

Ahem. I bought special thingies for the kids to use with their decorating bags, in order to avoid a Great Big Mess. Couplers, they call them. This is a two piece tool; one piece goes inside the bag, and one screws onto the other one once a tip has been placed on the outside of the bag. I knew none of this when I first bought the couplers. Nor did I know it when I tried to use the couplers for the first time. I thought I could figure it out.

Oh no I could not. I needed Google. Google did not fail me.

I found out how to use these plastic prizes (which worked wonders for holding a tip in place). But the first time I put a bag together, I still hadn't figured it all out. Maybe I should have read more carefully? I put the inside piece in, and draped the bag over a glass so that it was standing on its own and I could spoon the frosting into the bag easily. What I later realized is that it is best to also add the tip and the screw part to the outside before you put the frosting in the bag. Otherwise it is very squishy and hard to get the tip to stay put and go over the part that it is supposed to. 

(This is where the tip should have gone on and then the screwy part on the outside of the bag. You can imagine trying to hold that thing in place, while frosting is in the bag, and also trying to keep the frosting from squeezing out of the hole at the same time. It's tricky.) (I won't make that mistake again.)

 

Once I figured the whole thing out, though, the process went very smoothly and I was so happy that it was done. 

So pretty! And it was only 2am. Awesome. 

7:30am came all too early. But arrive it did, and so we got ready and carted our goods to the church where our class meets. I usually sit in on Eliana's class, but for the presentation today I slipped into Michaela's class to help out and take a few pictures. I had put the bags of frosting in the fridge (they had been in our fridge all night) once we got to the church, and I got them out a few minutes before she was supposed to begin. I didn't think it would be a problem at all, because when we used the frosting over the weekend, it had softened right up. What I did not realize (and still am not entirely sure about) is that the tip must have made a difference (I had not used a coupler the first time, so we had not added the tip until just before she used the bag before. The tip never went in the fridge, is what I'm saying.). When she and the other kids tried to squeeze that frosting out, no amount of pressure or superhuman force could make it move even a nanometer. These kids were holding the bags with both hands and putting the full moves on them, and I thought for sure once the frosting started going, it would end up on the ceiling or in someone else's hair, across the room. Nope. I fiddled with a few of them, stuck a toothpick in the tips, tried to get things moving. Poor Michaela. She handled it so well. And the children didn't flip out or go nuts...everyone just kept working at the bags, trying to coax that frosting out like they were drawing out scared snails in shells. Finally, the pressure started working, and I have no idea what got the frosting going, or which bag worked first, but eventually all the students got to try to make stars on their cupcakes. And some of them just made giant, criss-cross piles of frosting. To each his own.

I was proud of Michaela for staying calm. (She does, though. I'm the one who freaks out.)

In the end, there were cupcakes...with frosting. They were happy. That's a good ending, I think. Our cups runneth over, indeed.

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