Sam is taking the UPCAT tomorrow morning and because she is just about the moodiest person I know (well, probably next to me), and because she has the most volatile temper than any person I know (ummm, probably more than mine), Speedy and I agreed that we would make sure she stays happy as a lark before, and even after, the exam. It’s been a great week so far, starting with the day she got Twix for an advanced birthday gift. Sam has been in a jolly good mood, no bullshit in the morning when it’s time to wake up to prepare for school, no whining, no nothing. Until today.
She woke up 15 minutes before I was scheduled to start cooking lunch (go figure what time it was) announcing she must have McChicken and McDonald’s chicken nuggets for dinner tonight because tomorrow is UPCAT day. I said, sure. That, in addition to the previous agreement that we would do a McDonald’s Drive-Thru for her breakfast on the way to U.P. before the sun rises tomorrow morning. What can I say? The occasional McDonald’s treat satisfies some wicked need inside her.
We weren’t even through eating lunch when she said she wanted cupcakes to decorate. Take note — she didn’t exactly want the cupcakes so she could eat them. She wanted me to bake cupcakes so she could use the piping bag with all the different nozzles to create pretty patterns with the frosting. Okay, tomorrow is UPCAT day, I said yes. I took out an entire block of butter from the freezer to start softening it to room temperature.
Then, I suggested that she go over the Martha Stewart Baking Handbook to choose which baking project she wanted to do. That was when the trouble started. First she wanted gingerbread men. I don’t have gingerbread men cookie cutters. She called up her father and asked him to buy cookie cutters to make gingerbread men. That’s like asking Speedy to go to the wet market to buy fish and he told her so.
So, a bit frustrated but hardly defeated, she went back to the cookbook. She wanted French macaroons. We don’t have almonds. She wanted Dobos torte but we don’t have cream to make the Swiss meringue buttercream filling. She chose half a dozen other recipes, including a three-tiered mocha-and-pistachio wedding cake (I am not kidding). I could only shake my head. I told her to choose something that was not beyond my baking skills and something with ingredients that we already have in the house. But she didn’t want anything simple or ordinary — she wanted something that required a “shocking” frosting.
I don’t know if she heard me but after I turned down the three-tiered wedding cake project, she wanted ginger cupcakes with some exotic frosting. Sounds reasonable, right? Ginger is a staple in almost every Filipino household. But I used up all the ginger in the house to make the baked chicken wings for last night’s dinner. She wanted me to send one of the house helpers to the supermarket but it’s been raining all day and I’m not sending anyone to the supermarket, rain and all, just for a piece of ginger. My goodness, the cost of transportation will be ten times the price of a piece of ginger. She was really frustrated at that point, blaming me for not having ginger, but proceeded to scan the book anyway. She saw this gorgeous pastry made with puff pastry and I told her we didn’t have puff pastry.
“Mommy, there’s a recipe in the book for puff pastry,” and she was all but pushing the book into my face. I looked at the ingredients, we had everything in the list, so I took the book from her and proceeded to read the three-page recipe with the step-by-step photo illustrations. Shit, it would take at least eight hours to make the puff pastry — the damn thing has to be rolled six times, and frozen for an hour between each roll. And that’s just for making the puff pastry. To assemble the pastry dish she wanted would take another hour or so.
Darn, I want Sam in a good mood but I am not spending the rest of the afternoon and half the evening rolling pastry and watching the clock to monitor the freezing time. Jenjen, one of the house helpers, had been listening to the conversation while cleaning up the post-lunch mess in the kitchen and dining table, and audibly giggling to herself. When Sam’s voice went two decibels higher, she told Sam with a laugh, “Pancake na la’ng, Sam” to which Sam responded with a howl.
Honestly. I’m still very much willing to bake cupcakes, the butter is still thawing on the kitchen counter, but it has to be a reasonable baking project. Meanwhile, Sam has locked herself inside her room probably scouring the web for a cupcake recipe that requires a “shocking” frosting.