Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Totally baked

Thanks to the inestimable Other Hannah, I was inspired to make baked Alaska today. I used a devil's food recipe for the cake and decided to top it with Edy's Slow-Churned, the coffee flavor, in order to bring out the taste of the coffee used in the cake. Since I sadly lack a blowtorch (how much fun would a blowtorch be?), I decided just to use the broiler in the oven and hope for the best. My hopes got less hopeful when I noticed that the oven does not, in fact, have an actual heating element on its "ceiling." I also had no cutters to make neat rounds of cake or ice cream. I also had no pastry bag. This was pretty much the most low-tech baked Alaska ever.

So, as it turned out perfectly, I'm pretty damn proud of myself. Please excuse the following sequence of bad photos, since we had to take them really, really quickly before things started melting.

Step 1: mounds of coffee ice cream (not homemade, molded using a ramekin)on rounds of devil's food cake (homemade, cut using a water glass) that had been in the freezer since about 1 p.m.

Step 2: what it looks like when you pipe meringue over ice cream, very quickly and taking care to cover all the ice cream. I attempted a nice swirl that sorta kinda came out.

Step 3: broiled... er, baked as high as the oven will go for just two minutes.


By the way, there's about half of a sheet cake, mostly broken into bite-sized pieces, that I didn't use for baked Alaskas. Who wants?

In other news, I read all of Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie's The Thing Around Your Neck today. The protagonists of the short stories contained therein were primarily educated Nigerian women. And now for your daily dose of Slightly Offensive: Most of us have been reading the literature of the downtrodden since we were in middle school and got assigned Cry, the Beloved Country. We are, dare I say, accustomed to the narratives that teachers and the less imaginative among our professors wish us to see played out. Adichie's stories are intriguing to upper-middle class white readers in a fresh, new way. The various problems plaguing Nigeria are presented through characters with whom we can identify with much more closely than Ben Okri's spirit children or Achebe's proud, traditional Igbo leaders. I do not mean to devalue or denigrate or declare invalid the UMCWR's appreciation of Things Fall Apart or The Famished Road. But in reading The Thing Around Your Neck, I felt that I gained a new, alternative appreciation for both the experiences of an Nigerian immigrant to America and the experiences of a more well-off person embroiled in Nigerian political and social tensions, and thus, a more complete literary depiction of what Nigeria is.

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