Over the river 210 freeway and through the woods, to grandmother’s house we went. The muppets and I ventured to Lake Arrowhead in the San Bernardino Mountains for Thanksgiving this year.
Me (a week before Thanksgiving): Mom, I’ve got a great idea! Since we forced you to endure the gluten-free cornbread stuffing last year and you liked it, I’m going to make it again this year. AND I’m going to make Fabio’s Famous Apple Cake. But gluten-free!
Mom (GrammaJ, who by the way has celiac which is why we’re gluten-freeing all the food): Oh, don’t worry about me. Just make it regular. I can just pick out some of the apples.
Me: I think you’re missing the point…
Knowing my mother wouldn’t play ball, our family bundled up the boys and braved Whole Foods. We approached the health nut mecca on a Saturday afternoon, along with the throngs of organic cultists making their own pilgrimage. “Sign our petition to make love, not war?” asked a tie-dyed dude sitting in a John Deere tractor behind the deforested Christmas trees waiting for their own Charlie Brown savior. (I am not making this up.)
A giant holiday display boasting “Thanksgiving Tofurkey! Better than meat!” greeted us at the entrance. (It was next to the patchouli oil.) Now, far be it from me to decry vegetarianism (I even spent my college years adhering to the practice), but we may be stretching it when we’re trying to shape our soy into resembling meat. But I digress…
I found the gluten-free aisle. Boxes upon bags, rows and rows of every baking delectable siphoned of the evil wheat. And one lonely empty space with a shelf-tag “Gluten-free cornbread.” Someone else had beaten me to my stuffing idea!
But I would not be denied my cake. Preparing to take down my fellow shoppers if need be, I found a box of Glutino baking flour. And as luck would happen, this quest caused me to stumble upon a fancy shmancy bag of gluten-free cornbread mix. VICTORY!
Thanksgiving Day dawned and we piled into the MomMobile and started accumulating altitude. Our gluttonous feast was to be Friday (we’re a family of rebels here, yo). We reached the “Lake House” and began to unload the trappings that would ultimately become a plate of deliciousness declared, “I don’t like Turkey. I don’t want that,” by Search and Destroy.
Mom: I forgot the eggs.
Me: I checked. Store’s open until 4 today. What else do we need? <consults recipe list> Mom, do we have baking powder?
Mom: Yup, it’s in the cupboard. <hands me can of Calumet> Does baking powder go bad?
Me: Do they even still make this brand? <examines can> Mom! This expired in December 1988!
Mom: Well that makes sense, that’s when we bought this place.
I went through the rest of my recipes to ensure we had the necessary ingredients in stock. Then we went to the store to buy eggs and baking powder.
I returned ready to cook. First step – puree the apples for the apple cake.
Me: Do you have a food processor?
Mom: A what?
Me: A blender. Where’s the blender?
Me: You don’t have a blender?
Mom: I don’t cook! Go ask your father why he doesn’t use a blender.
I went and asked all-knowing interwebs what to do instead. It suggested mashing fruit for the eponymous cake with a mortar and pestle.
Dear Google: If I don’t have a blender, chances are slim any other specialty cooking accouterments are within my reach.
Ok fine. All to familiar for the women in my family – substitute and make do! Where are my four large Red Delicious apples.
I opened the fridge to find a bag of baby apples. Wordlessly I looked at my mother, who shrugged. “Same fruit.”
Thirty minutes of a medium-low heat bath in the sauce pan and they were hot little apple chunks but no closer to succumbing to the medieval torture device that my mom claimed was a potato masher.
With Dexter like aplomb I brandished the kitchen knife and manually pureed hacked, chopped and otherwise smashed to smithereens.
There would be apple cake if it was the death of me. (And likely anyone else who refused to eat it and pretend it was worthy of presentation to the pope as the initial creator, Fabio, once did.)