Growing up, there were times when a backlog of leftovers crowded the refrigerator. The week’s meals had been superb, but for one reason or another, no one had dug into the covered dishes or popped open any containers to finished off the last of the tidbits, extra portions, and other gems from the past few dinners. It would’ve been a waste and a shame to send those treasures down the disposal. Mom’d kept them because she knew someone would definitely want those morsels later. Times like these, Mom was stuck with a choice: Waste this perfectly good food and the time she’d put into it or find a way to make sure it was eaten. From this dilemma, the Fun Meal was born.
A Fun Meal, as my mom explained it, was fun because you got a second chance to eat all the foods you loved from the past week. Everything was reheated, ingredients might’ve been added to plump up a dish if it was really necessary, but overall, it was a spectacular food reunion. Oh, look there! Tuesday’s mashed potatoes! I loved them! And there – I’d totally forgotten we had that salad two nights ago! Lemme have it!
You had to move fast. The really popular dishes disappeared quickly. Plus, it was no holds barred for Fun Meals. You didn’t have to balance your dinner. If you wanted to gorge yourself with gravy on dinner rolls, fruit salad, and a big pile of pasta, go for it! The key was to clean out the fridge and have a blast while doing it. Let’s go!
Mom made sure Fun Meals were served with all the same decorum our regular dinners warranted. The table was set correctly, the food was served in proper serving dishes, and the family sat down together. As the six o’clock news droned on in the background, we shared stories and fed the dog under the table – not because the food was bad, but rather because we all wanted so much for her to like us best.
This week, my refrigerator reached Fun Meal proportions. Bowls were balanced on almond milk cartons, bottles were sideways, and baggies of this and that bulged out from under Pyrex storage containers. Intimidating, unsightly, slightly dangerous, our leftovers threatened to overtake the kitchen should someone open the fridge with too much gusto.
Even so, last night I saw my younger son staring into the fridge as though it went on for miles and miles. I peered over his shoulder, trying to see into the vast distance along with him.
“There’s a ton of food.” I stated, doing my best Captain Obvious impression.
“Yeah, but I don’t know what I’m hungry for. I’m hungry, you know. I just don’t know for what.” He closed the fridge.
“Maybe tomorrow I’ll make something different. Something sweet.”
“Like what?” I noticed he looked more doubtful than hungry.
“Like maybe… cupcakes…?”
“That,” he said with a smile and a quick nod, “is exactly what I’m hungry for.”
Ah, kids. Never underestimate a mother’s intuition.
Tonight after the Fun Meal, I cleared the counter and went to work. My son has had a mountain of homework this weekend, and I knew he still had to study for a calculus exam. It was getting late, so I decided I’d make the boy some Keep Awake Cupcakes in hopes of giving him the edge he needed to study hard and ace his exam tomorrow.
By the way, I’ve never taken calculus, but I’ve seen the book. Based on my calculations, this was the right thing to do. I could create a theorem for it, but I’d rather get baking.
I based the cupcakes on the Golden Vanilla Cupcakes from Vegan Cupcakes Take Over the World. http://www.amazon.com/Vegan-Cupcakes-Take-Over-World/dp/1569242739/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1350272933&sr=8-1&keywords=vegan+cupcakes+take+over+the+world
The only changes I made were to use almond milk instead of soy and to add 3 teaspoons of instant coffee and 1 tablespoon of cocoa powder to the batter. I didn’t want overwhelming coffee flavor, but a hint of mocha seemed like just the thing a calculus study session required.
If you’ve never made vegan cupcakes before, I want to stress the importance of the apple cider vinegar and non-dairy milk step. Be sure to whisk those ingredients together well and get the mixture bubbly/frothy. This seems to be the key to getting good height on the cupcakes. Rushing this soy milk and ACV step has resulted in some sorry-looking flattops. You can disguise them with frosting, but it’s still a bummer when you pull them out and they all look like they’re kind of disappointed in you because you did something wrong.
The frosting was based on the Vegan Fluffy Buttercream Frosting out of the same book. The only change I made was to use dark chocolate almond milk instead of soy milk.
After the cupcakes cooled, I iced them and sprinkled them with a very small amount of instant coffee and a generous amount of chopped vegan chocolate chips. I hadn’t been certain that the instant coffee would taste good this way, but it and the chocolate created a surprising sweetness that completed the cupcakes perfectly.
Cupcakes have been consumed now and are just starting to kick in. Calculus boy is buckling down for a night of studying. There are several more cupcakes awaiting him if he feels like he needs another dose of caffeine and sugar to get him through his review.
In the meantime, I’m thrilled that the fridge is in a more reasonable condition and ready for another week of vegan menus. It was also fun to have a little break so I could make a treat tonight. Wait, it was also “fun” to have a break… Is that what she meant when she told us we were having a Fun Meal? Mom!