What Do People Do During an Economic Depression?

They eat and they, well, you know, do other things that don't cost money(well, at least not if you're married).

The husband started a new job a month back, a real job, for real pay. Not the 50% of his pay scale job he first accepted in a mad dash to be employed. I didn't want to mention it for fear of jinxing it but things have mellowed considerably here at the maison 'de formerlyfun. He is still in high gear as he proves his mettle at the new digs but the heavy cloud of what ifs has passed for now.

Still, we continue to be in belts tightened mode, if for nothing more than to replenish the savings we spent the first part of the year. We've looked to do things that are entertaining and cheap(each other) and we've eaten from home most of the time. My grandparents, who were Depression-era, took a great pleasure in food. I don't know if it is because they remember lean and hungry times or if food was a measure of wealth, simple pleasures or all of the above.

I've always been an adept cook but I've never been much for baking. When I was single I didn't attempt baking because I knew I'd be the one eating all of my experiments and this could make singleton status permanent. With the rigors of young family life, who had time to dish up some fruit and yogurt much less make a cake or a pie. But then came the economic downturn and time on my hands with little money to spare. Additionally, have you noticed how blech most of the things from the grocery bakery taste? Why does nothing have butter in it anymore? I don't want lard in my frosting dammit. Sugar and Crisco do not great flavours make, I don't care how much pink food coloring you put in it.

So with my husband's birthday around the corner, I decided to attempt a homemade birthday cake. Caveat, much like my grandmother's idea of homemade, I mean a box cake, not just dumped into a sheet pan, with homemade frosting and something thrown on top. So I decided to make a devil's food cake with Swiss buttercream(yes, real butter, about 8 sticks thank you very much)frosting and a chocolate drizzle, mmmmmm. My first attempt I used two round cake pans, a mix, a recipe for the frosting, with included doing a bain-marie(fancy french name for warming something in a water bath rather than directly on the burner) and some shaky decorating skills.

This is what I got:

This is what it looked like after photo retouching. Yes, even cakes can be airbrushed.

So it was two layers and yes, it tasted damn fine. There is nothing that compares to frosting with butter and sugar versus high fructose corn syrup and hydrogenated vegetable oil.

So this was the tester cake because I had really only ever made like two cakes before and didn't want to 'practice' for the hubs birthday. After this one turned out so delicious, I got a little cocky and decided to go three layers. I changed up the decor a little and ended up with this bad boy.

The cake was a little slice of 3000 calorie heaven on a plate. I wish I would have taken a picture of the inside but as soon as I cut into it, the whole family devoured it. It was a big hit and yes, you must now bow down to my baking acumen.

So the moral of the story? Economic downturn's are not all bad as long as you have the heady muse of chocolate to assuage your empty wallet.

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Laura said... April 1, 2009 at 3:28 PM  

You go girl-- that's some mad cakemaking skillz.

mongoliangirl said... April 1, 2009 at 4:25 PM  

I am bowing down with a fork in hand, madame. They all look and sound delicious!

Shelley Jaffe said... April 1, 2009 at 8:26 PM  

Those were both things of beauty! Who said you weren't a baker? You rock the 'Croc!

(you know, like Betty Crocker)

(mental note: stop trying to sound hip)

Mandy said... April 1, 2009 at 8:47 PM  

Oh that looks soooo good.

A Free Man said... April 1, 2009 at 9:06 PM  

I still can't bake. I love the kitchen - first room in the house I check out when house hunting - and I love cooking. But baking, far too finicky.

I do like cake, however, so that spare room's definitely available.

SSG said... April 2, 2009 at 12:40 AM  

this is making me hungry. Are you going to share the recipe?

Disturbed Stranger said... April 2, 2009 at 5:13 AM  

Cake looks goooooooooooooooood!!!
very delicious!

And absolutely wonderful post!

Gwen said... April 2, 2009 at 5:23 AM  

That second cake is really cool! I always make two layer cakes and people always assume it was so hard. I'm like, "two pans is hard?" Anyway, I'm all about butter, too. Why are people so afraid of butter? People have been eating that creamy, yummy goodness for thousands upon thousands of years. Suddenly, it's poison. I don't get it. I'll take a stick of butter over a hydrogenated, chemical laden, lower fat spread any day of the week. (And as much as I say I am, I'm not really fat.) I say butter for everyone. I think we'd all be healthier, and certainly happier.

Arizaphale said... April 2, 2009 at 6:22 AM  

Impressive mate!!!!!! I can't believe that's only a first and second effort. You are having us on? Mind you, with your job, perhaps you do have to have a naturally steady hand?
Feeeeeed meeeeeee...............

Rassles said... April 2, 2009 at 7:58 AM  

God says we should share.

Captain Steve said... April 2, 2009 at 8:08 AM  

I love baking. Better yet, I love people that bake and then give me the goods.


Well Read Hostess said... April 2, 2009 at 10:19 AM  

We have the same plates. And maybe the same dining room table.

Isn't that weird?

Anonymous said... April 3, 2009 at 8:20 PM  

Like many of the others, I love to cook, but baking brings out my insane fear of flour. But for some reason, I decided that I had to have homemade rolls for my Easter dinner, so I've been practising. Slowly but surely, I'm getting there. I'll try another batch tomorrow. As far as the economy goes, even though our income hasn't changed, we've belt-tightened as well. Kind of nice to see those $$ accumulating in the bank.

Stuffed Daddy said... April 6, 2009 at 9:09 AM  

That cake rocked! Now I have to go for a run.

Gypsy said... April 6, 2009 at 11:07 AM  

Congrats on the new job for the hubs! And the cake looks scrumptious.

greenbean said... April 6, 2009 at 11:20 PM  

Oh Snap. Tell yer hubby Happy belated birthday G. bean!
(yes his initials + bean almost sound like GreenBean, ahhh maybe that's why I like him so!

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