“Mom! I need you!”
“What do you need, Justin?” Janine stopped practicing her scales on the piano and waited for her teenage son’s reply from the kitchen.
“Do you have a recipe for Baked Alaska?” Justin’s sentence was punctuated by the crash of what Janine presumed were her cookbooks tumbling to the floor.
“I have no idea. I’m not even sure what Baked Alaska is, let alone ever made it.” Janine took a break from the piano to investigate the reason Justin was making this strange request.
“It’s some kind of dessert, and Tiffany loves it. I want to make one for her.”
Janine should have known. Everything in Justin’s world was about Tiffany. Fighting diligently to suppress the eye-roll, she began thumbing through her fanciest dessert book.
“Here ya go. Baked Alaska. The picture sure is beautiful. But this looks pretty complicated, Justin – maybe we should just make some of my famous chocolate chip cookies.”
“No, Mom. It has to be Baked Alaska.”
“But, honey. This says it’s best to start two days ahead.”
“I don’t have two days. I need it tonight. I’ll just have to make it work.”
“It also classifies this as ‘difficult.’ The most you’ve made is brownies out of a box – and I had to do half of that. I won’t have the time to fix your Baked Alaska, and I know absolutely nothing about making one. It’s a sweet idea, Justin, but you really need to start with something a little easier.”
Janine looked into her baking cupboard and extracted a box. “Here. I have an angel food cake mix. They’re fairly simple to make, and you could serve that with some chocolate ice cream.”
“No. I’m making Baked Alaska. I saw it on the food channel once. It looked easy. Trust me.”
“Okay. Make a list and I’ll take you to the store. But you’re on your own for making this thing.” While Justin began reading the ingredient list, Janine returned to her piano and resumed her diligent practicing of the scales.
“Mom. Do we have semisweet chocolate?”
“Cream of tartar?”
“Don’t know. Look around.”
Janine gave up her scale regiment and joined Justin in the kitchen. Although she told him he was on his own, she decided to help him at least have the necessary ingredients. While she foresaw looming disaster ahead, she wanted Justin to at least have a fighting chance.
Ninety minutes later, Justin was home with all the required ingredients, pans and utensils to make a perfect Baked Alaska. Janine gazed at her beautiful kitchen, and briefly thought about changing her plans. But, no, she couldn’t protect Justin from everything. He was determined he could do this, and she was not going to help him out of it.
“I’m leaving for Bible study, then I have a retreat planning meeting. I’ll be gone at least three hours. No phone calls – unless you’ve blown something up.”
“Thanks for the confidence, Mom.”
“It’s just … Baked Alaska? Sure you don’t want my cookies, or the angel food cake mix?”
“No, mom. Trust me.”
Sitting in Bible study, Janine heard her phone vibrate. She looked down to see she had missed a text message from Justin.
“How do I chop chocolate?” Immediately followed by … “used hammer.”
Another vibrate. “What is frothy?”
Janine refused to send a reply, but found herself looking forward to the next message. She knew Justin was only on the first few steps, and she was sure his messages would become more frantic and entertaining.
“What’s soft or stiff peak? Need answer.”
“Can I use this morning’s coffee? Is it strong?”
“Mom? Are you there?”
“I think I messed up frothy. I need frothy, glossy AND stiff. NOW.”
Janine suppressed her giggle and chastised herself for paying more attention to Justin’s text messages than to the message of the guest speaker. Oh Lord. Help Justin learn a lesson through this … and please protect my kitchen. Oh, and please help me not to say “I told you so.”
Three hours and fifty minutes later, Janine cautiously walked into her house. Something smelled good … sweet. Maybe she had been wrong. Maybe Justin did conquer the Baked Alaska.
Stepping around the corner, she saw Justin, wearing her ‘Life’s a Dessert’ apron, standing in a disaster of a kitchen, proudly displaying an angel food cake.
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