I’m laid back in my LaZBoy recliner. My feet are kicked up and I’m juggling data back and forth across three huge monitors. The monitors are decked out in my favorite Red and Blue which means that I’m at work but it’s late in the day and time for a break.
I get up and walk to the kitchen passing Mrs Jinksto along the way. She’s quietly reading a book on her Kindle by the big picture window in the living room. Beyond her there’s a perfect fall day. Almost too cool but not quite there yet. I think that we’ll probably see frost very very soon.
I stand in the middle of the kitchen with no idea why. I am waiting. I know that want something, something good, but I don’t know what yet. I wait. It’ll come to me or it won’t. If it does I’ll make it. If it doesn’t I’ll go back to work. My eyes move around the room from the place that I know she hides the Marshmallows and pudding to the top of the refrigerator which is stacked with various cans of fruit juice all lined up in neat rows.
I almost had a hit on the pudding but not quite.
My eyes continue their silent inventory. Nothing in the refrigerator itself. I checked that earlier. Nothing in the cabinet that has enough canned food to feed the Pacific fleet (there are pickled okra and pickled quail eggs in there but I’m saving those for my hunting trip next week), nothing in the spice cabinet that I can eat, nothing in the liquor cabinet that I want except maybe a little rum. That WOULD go down nicely but I have a strict policy against drinking and working and I still have work to do.
I wait another few seconds and my eyes drift back to the liquor cabinet. I slowly walk over and open it to survey the contents. Rum, three kinds, sits behind a box of cake flour. On the next shelf down is the big plastic container that we keep sugar in. Cake flour, Rum, sugar, pudding… the idea that’s been sitting there floods to the front of my brain. Rum Cake! It’s like a physical flash of insight that I can almost see. I hear thunder in the distance followed by what I swear sounds just like a chorus of angels.
I love rum cake. Specifically, I love MY rum cake. It’s a love affair that started years ago when Mrs. Jinksto and I took a vacation to Grand Cayman. It was there that we first had “the good stuff”; Rum cake by the Tortuga Rum Cake factory. You can buy them here (original Golden Rum Cake only please) and have them shipped to you but there damned expensive (no, seriously, go look… see!) and I tend to want them “now” when I want one, not in 3-5 days. So I learned to make them. I searched the internet and found many different recipes that were purported to be just perfect copies of the cake that I love and, after a bit of testing, twisted the recipe into something that I think is actually better than “the real thing”.
I know what I want and so it’s on. I get the rum down from the cabinet as well as the cake flour and sugar. Then I grab a box of vanilla instant pudding from “the secret pudding stash” and the vanilla extract, baking powder and salt from the spice cabinet. Along with those things I get two sticks of butter (real, unsalted), a gallon of milk and 4 eggs from the refrigerator. Everything goes in one place on the cabinet so that there’s no searching for things once I start work.
I peek around the corner to see if Mrs Jinksto has caught on yet but she’s still reading away so I turn to get my mixing bowl from under the cabinet beside the dishwasher.
It’s missing. This isn’t unusual and it can usually be found with a little searching. I stand in the middle of the kitchen and look around before sighing loudly. The bowl, does not appear. I walk over to the cabinet where our dishes are kept and open the door. The bowl is not there. This is not really surprising because it’s *never* been there. Not in the three years that we’ve lived here. I sigh loudly again and check again. The bowl has not appeared. I close the cabinet door loudly and open the one next to it where our glasses and coffee mugs live. No bowl. I glare at the coffee mugs (which didn’t respond to my taunt) and close the door to this cabinet still more loudly.
I peek around the corner again to see if Mrs. Jinksto is coming to help. She’s still reading peacefully but I’m pretty sure that at this point she’s just ignoring me… waiting…
I glare at her quietly (it’d be rude to interrupt after all) and go back to my search. The mixing bowl isn’t in the dish drain or on any of the counters. I pick up a stray dishtowel and look under it because, well, you just never know where it might be. It’s a sneaky bastard, my mixing bowl.
I lean back into the dining room and say, “Hey… “ quietly.
I think I saw her roll her eyes. “Yes baby?”
“Have you seen my mixing bowl?”
“It’s in the cabinet next to the dishwasher where it always is.”
“No, it’s not.”
“Did you look?” This time there was DEFINATELY an eye roll.
“Yeah!” I say, quite proud of myself. “I looked EVERYwhere.”
She sighs and gets up knowing that it’s going to be a losing battle. I let her. I am confident that I’m right because this time I really did look in the right place. That’ll teach her.
Mrs. Jinksto, walks into kitchen and opens the cabinet under the counter next to the dishwasher.
I fold my arms across my chest and smile quietly.
At this point one of two things happened and I’m not sure which. Either she stuck her hand into the cabinet and wriggled her fingers while it was hidden inside and by said gesture called forth the magic of woman to summon the missing mixing bowl out of the ether OR there was a brief pause in time-space in which some malcontent teenage meddler walked into the room, replaced my stolen bowl (which he had been studying for an eight grade science project) and then left. I’m betting on the latter but only because it’s more fun. In either case, when her hand returned from the bowels of the evil cabinetry it lovingly held my favorite mixing bowl.
Mrs. Jinksto hands me the bowl and I turn to the cabinet that has all of my ingredients ready.
I begin to measure out two cups of cake flour into my newfound bowl. Mrs. Jinksto turns to leave the kitchen. As she does I say, “do you know where the mixer is?”
I hear a sound behind me that I can’t quite identify.
“It’s right whe… I’ll get it for you sweetheart.”
“Thank you! You’re the best!” I say as I add one a half cups of sugar to my bowl.
By the time she’s back with the mixer I’ve added four teaspoons of baking powder, one teaspoon of salt and a stick of butter to the bowl. I top this off with three tablespoons of vegetable oil and kick the hand mixer into low gear. This is mixed on low for about five or six minutes until everything is well incorporated and the mix is forming smallish beads.
Once that’s done I add the package of vanilla pudding, one half cup of milk (after a brief search (not by me) that is becoming a little redundant (even to me) now (so we’ll skip that (parenthetically speaking (of course))) for the measuring cup)**, one half cup of Tortuga Rum (that my brother brought me from Grand Cayman just for me to make rum cakes with), one half cup of vegetable oil, 1 teaspoon of vanilla extract and 4 eggs. Yeah, that’s a lot… but it goes quickly when you’ve go it down.
As an aside (not a parenthetical comment) it’s best to add the oil and milk first and then add the rum after you’ve got the mixer going. Adding raw rum to milk can be interesting as it causes the milk to nearly instantly curdle. Fun for the whole family.
Once everything is in I mix the batter for about three or four minutes while Mrs. Jinksto greases our bunt cake pan and adds a half cup of chopped walnuts to the bottom.
When the batter is perfectly smooth we work together to scrape the bowl as clean as we can get it and slide the pan into the oven.
There is now a brief interlude where entirely too much spoon licking and cleaning of mixer blades (beaters?) occurs. Since this is a family blog we we’ll skip ahead a bit.
About 50 minutes later I take the cake out of the oven and post a few pictures to facebook. I test it with the ole “stab it with a toothpick” test and then start mixing the “soak”/glaze while the cake cools.
The soak is pretty easy but can get out of hand quickly. I get a small sauce pan from under the cabinet by the stove. This time, managing to do it all on my onesy without womanly magic or wayward time travelers getting involved. I turn the burner on high, place the pot on it and add a cup of sugar to the pot. To that I add another stick of butter and one quarter cup of water and begin stirring. I stir constantly for three or four minutes until things start to bubble. If you let this go much past a few bubbles it can boil over the top of the pot in a about three seconds so I watch it carefully. I stir constantly and just when things start to bubble I pour a half cup of rum on top and take it off of the burner. I stir the rum in for about thirty seconds and then Mrs. Jinksto helps me pour the whole thing over the top of the cake which is still in it’s upsidedowness in the bunt pan.
We let it cool for another 10 minutes or so until all of the soak has, well, soaked and then flip it out onto a cake plate.
I give the cake about an hour to cool and then Mrs. Jinksto fixes us a couple of pieces.
As it turns out, those really were angels that I heard.
** (by the way, sorry about all of the parenthesis in this one)