On the Subject of Cooking

On the subject of cooking (which, believe me, I will have nothing more to say about after this), as I was digging through old photos for evidence that I can cook, I stumbled across this series of action shots.

My nephew, already a better cook than me by the time he was 10, was having a birthday and I just happened to remember that I’d seen the perfect recipe for his birthday cake. It was a cat-box cake.

Given my nephew was a big fan of those nasty jelly bellies that came in favors like vomit and boogers, I figured the cat-box cake would be quite the hit. He got very excited about the project.

My sister-in-law, always a good sport and often an instigator, got fully behind the plan to serve a cake that looked like a cat box desperately in need of a cleaning. She even went to the store and purchased a brand new litter box and scoop for the purpose of adding authenticity.

Then, my nephew, with me reading the recipe to him just so I could feel like I was helping, proceeded to grind ginger snaps and sugar cookies to make the “litter,” mixing some with green food coloring for the “fresh crystal” look. Then, the crumbs were mixed with pudding to make them moist and hold it all together. After assembling the whole thing, the coup de GRAS was the tootsie rolls warmed in the microwave enough to allow them to be formed into a disgusting “plop” shape.

When my nephews friends finished dinner and at long last were ready for dessert, my sister-in-law made an offhand comment about needing to change the litter box and headed back toward where the real cat boxes were kept. She had cleverly hidden the cake in a very separate place that was in the same general direction. Then, much to the boy’s shock and dismay, placed the fake cat box on the table.

Everyone stared, clearly with wheels rapidly turning, trying to figure out why Megan had just set a dirty litter box on the table. They’re bright boys–they suspected some kind of joke.

Eventually, it became clear to all that this was not a cat box at all but an actual, edible dessert. Then, the boys all dug in, taking great joy in being as disgusting as possible while eating the offensively shaped tootsie rolls.

I was my nephew’s favorite aunt for at least half an hour.

I took pictures of virtually every step of the process. My nephew hammed it up for the camera, too. But the shot I love the most is of my nephew gnawing on a disgusting looking chunk of tootsie roll that has cookie crumbs stuck all over it. I guess it’s true about what they say when it comes to photography: in the end, it’s not about the exposure, composition, or number of pixels. It’s about the moment–even a disgusting one.