My Baby Skillet

One of the most cherished and versatile elements of my batterie de cuisine is a well-seasoned 6” cast iron skillet. My sister Cindy, who I got it from, said it was her “baby skillet”. Cindy called anything of a diminutive nature a “baby”; to her, a hand spade was a “baby shovel”, and I swear I once heard her call Massachusetts a “baby state”. “Cindy, it’s the Bay State.” I observed. “That’s not what I said,” she replied. I let the subject drop; I’d learned a long time ago that you can’t win an argument with a big sister.

This little skillet is just the thing you need to use for baking short breads in small amounts. Suppose you’re having just a few people over for breakfast, and you want to make biscuits. This little honey is perfect baking for good half-dozen (or four catheads). It’s also ideal for a pan of cornbread that will feed at least four and a meat loaf that will feed three. When it comes to baked pasta, I would dearly love to have more of these for a manicotti party, one pan of four for every two people. They’re inexpensive compared to a cast-iron Dutch oven, but if you’re lucky like me you get one from someone you love.

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A Rainbow Cake

Jake saw an image of a rainbow cake somewhere and just had to make one. It wasn’t even called a rainbow cake in any sort of caption; it was just a random image on a blog somewhere, but he found it beautiful, and I did, too. But when he said he wanted to make one, well, I kind of tingled in my toes. You’d never know it, but Jake is color-blind. I’m not sure how extensive it is, and he’s not either, but when he pointed to that gorgeous slice of multi-colored cake on the monitor and said he wanted to make it, I offered to help. It was the least I could do.

Since this was such an experimental venture, we used a commercial white cake mix and a canned icing; after all, our objective was appearance rather than substance. The most indispensable element of the project was two (count ‘em, two!) boxes of McCormick’s assorted food coloring and egg dye. Each box has formulas for achieving eight colors (red, yellow, green and blue as well as pretty purple, orange sunset, teal, mint green and dusty rose).

Jake used two boxes of cake mix, split the batter into six equal amounts and then colored each bowl of batter. Because there was less batter per baking pan, oven time was reduced by at least five minutes. Jake wanted to arrange the layers to his own satisfaction, but I told him that while that might be interesting, it might be better on this effort for us to stick to Roy G. Biv (less the “i” I think). After a brief discussion, the pans were numbered and labeled. Once cooled, we assembled the cake. It sat overnight in a white icing, and when the first slice was taken the next day everyone went, “Ooo . . . “.  We both just grinned.