Exhausted and nauseous, I wobble on weak ankles as D, C and I walk along the stables to D’s car. The paved surface below my feet is a refreshing change from that of the rest of the fairgrounds. The smoothness is, admittedly, a little disorienting; after being thrown and flipped for the better part of the day, I can’t help but anticipate some hazard looming on the horizon. So, I’m anxious. Each foot is placed with heightened uncertainty as I feel increasingly more sure that the ground will suddenly fall from beneath my feet. I’m scared because I don’t know what to expect next – I just can’t be positive – and even more frightening is the thought of slipping into the passenger seat of D’s blue sedan. He’s already a scary driver, so who knows how watching the figure-8 race will affect his tendencies?
If I even make it the parking lot, anyway.
Ah, the 4-H fair. What strange wonders it holds… Such a curiosity it is… Simple newspaper ads shout reminders and inspire promises as parents begrudgingly set dates on their calendars and pray that their children forget. But alas, mid-July, small rectangular signs are erected along road sides to announce the fair’s advancement.
There will be no forgetting now.
I remember those days well. Those days when I would reduce myself to tears just to try to make my parents give in to my desires. Surely just one more ride would be acceptable. Or perhaps one more game?
But now, as I stand in line for another ridiculous ride with a once-coveted wristband adorning my arm, I question and chide my childhood self. Why would one subject themselves to such pain for such a high price? After flipping and spinning on my so-called favorite rides for a just matter of minutes, I’m ready to be done. Wandering down the fairway, a harsh mix of gravel and dirty sand bubbling up into my sandals, I swallow my stomach and escape the crowd to seek salvation within the horse barn with my cousin, N.
Which is another thing I like; the kids in the barns are often too young to ride the rides, and it’s incredibly cute to see them react to how big cows, pigs and horses really are. They’re amazed and completely in awe.
Better than sickened and completely green, right?
It’s just funny to me. I know it’s a common theme to my posts, but things are changing. I don’t have children of my own (and I’m certainly not in a rush to have any!), but I’m starting to see what my parents went through while they were raising me and it makes me really, really, really appreciate them. Yeah, they denied me tickets and cash at the fair. Yeah, I was disappointed and pouted the whole way home. But you know what? That was good for me. I needed that. It’s got to be difficult to say no to your kid (and I’m sure that my parents lost lots of sleep over it. Haha), but I understand why it needs to be done. Sometimes “no” hurts, but it’s the right answer in the long run. Some things just have to be denied so all things are not expected.
That said, we all need limitations and restraints if we are expected to become civilized adults.
They keep us back in our seats, face-to-face with reality, and safe at all times.
1 3/4 lbs (795 g) milk chocolate, chopped into small pieces
1 1/3 c (315 ml) heavy cream
Place the chocolate in a medium-sized bowl and set aside.
Bring cream to a boil in a small saucepan and when it begins to bubble up, pour over the chocolate and let sit for 5 minutes. Gently stir, starting in the middle and working your way outward, until the cream and chocolate are completely mixed. Cover with plastic wrap and set aside.
Angel Food Cake
1 1/2 c (235 g) confectioners’ sugar
1 c minus 2 Tbls (120 g) flour
2 Tbls cornstarch
1 1/2 c (355 ml) egg whites
1 tsp cream of tartar
1/8 tsp salt
1 c (200 g) sugar
2 tsp vanilla
1 tsp almond extract
Preheat oven to 325F (160C) and line the bottom of a 10″ round cake pan with ungreased parchment paper.
In a medium bowl, sift together confectioners’ sugar, flour and cornstarch. Set aside.
In a large bowl, beat egg whites, cream of tartar, and salt until frothy. Increase speed to medium-high and gradually sprinkle in sugar, then extracts, beating until stiff peaks form.
Sift half of the flour mixture over egg whites and fold until just combined. Sift over the remaining half of the flour mixture and gently fold until no streaks remain.
Pour batter into prepared cake pan and bake until top of cake springs back when touched, 45–50 minutes. Transfer cake to a rack and let cool.
Devil’s Food Cake
3/4 c (155 g) shortening
1 1/2 c minus 3 Tbls (185 g) flour
3 Tbls cornstarch
1 1/2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp baking powder
1 1/2 c (355 ml) coffee
3/4 c (70 g) cocoa powder, sifted
2 c (400 g) sugar
1 1/2 tsp vanilla
3 eggs, room temp
Preheat oven to 350F (175C). Grease a 10″ round cake pan with shortening and dust with flour to coat. Shake out excess flour and set pan aside.
In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, cornstarch, baking soda, salt, and baking powder. Set aside.
In another medium bowl, whisk the coffee and cocoa powder until smooth. Set aside.
In a large bowl, beat the shortening, sugar, vanilla, and eggs with a handheld mixer on medium speed until pale and fluffy, 2 minutes. Alternately add the flour mixture and the coffee mixture to the bowl in 3 stages, beating to combine after each addition.
Pour the batter into the prepared cake pan and bake until a toothpick inserted into cake comes out clean, 30–35 minutes; transfer to a rack and let cool completely.
Peanut Butter Mousse
1 lb (455 g) (2 8oz packages) cream cheese, at room temperature
3 c (710 ml) smooth peanut butter, at room temperature
2 c (315 g) confectioners’ sugar, sifted
1 c (235 ml) heavy cream
In a large bowl, beat cream cheese, peanut butter, and confectioners’ sugar on medium speed until smooth and fluffy, about 3 minutes.
Put cream into a large bowl and beat on high speed until stiff peaks form. Using a rubber spatula, fold 1/3 of the whipped cream into the peanut butter mixture to lighten, then fold in remaining 2/3rds. Cover and chill until ready to use.
Using a serrated-blade knife, slice each cake horizontally into 2 layers. Place 1 layer of the devil’s food cake on a cake stand and spread 1/3 of the peanut butter mousse over the top. Top mousse with a layer of the angel food cake and spread with half of the remaining mousse. Repeat with the remaining devil’s food cake, mousse, and angel food cake. Wrap cake in plastic wrap and freeze for 2 hours.
Stir ganache (heat it in the microwave, if necessary, at 10 second intervals. Be sure to stir well) until smooth and pour over the top and sides of the cake, smoothing with a palette spreader if necessary. Refrigerate the cake for 2 hours before slicing.