Saturday, February 14, 2004

is Son of Blob under the bed?

My paternal grandmother, the only member of my immediate family to whom I bear absolutely no resemblance, was known far and wide for a certain baked treat she had invented. It's essentially a kind of blondie; the two main ingredients are butter and brown sugar, and there's a little flour and egg to hold them together. She would have taken the recipe to the grave with her if I hadn't batted my eyelashes and promised to guard it with my life; she'd had too many experiences of giving the recipe to people who would muck it up, and she didn't want the karma.

So I batted, and she relented, and I copied it down in my little reporter notebook, and eventually transferred it to my computer when the original had become too sticky and blurred with egg to read.

Problem is, I somehow did not transfer the information about temperature. Which is critical. These things, baked properly, don't look right at first, so most people overbake, or change the proportions, or screw it up in some other way. Baking is more science than art, when it comes down to it, and these sweets are the living proof.

Living, and bubbling, and gurgling, and crawling-out-of-its-pan proof tonight.

I have stumbled across what I could easily market as a do-it-yourself La Brea Tar Pits kit. I had my doubts about the baking powder (the use by date on the bottom of the can was 1992), I creamed the butter instead of melting it, the pan was the wrong size, and I was guessing on the heat. But I've made these things successfully before, and how hard can it be?

As I started writing this, my mother was in the kitchen, gleefully poking the mass with a steak knife. Popping bubbles as they came to the surface. We'd already peeled away all the edible (read: baked) parts and put them on a plate, and now it was time for the serious excavation to begin. I keep expecting some tusks or horns or at least a preserved hoof to come to the surface; meanwhile we eat the baked (read: burnt to a carmelized crisp) bits.

Just to mush up the visuals for you a little, I'm going to admit that my parents still regret taking me to see Son of Blob (aka Beware! The Blob) when I was three. Apparently it meant eight years of reassuring me, every night, that Son of Blob was not waiting under the bed, in the closet, or in the hall, to come digest me. Yes, I was terrified of a large, poorly animated glob of cherry jello. Interestingly enough this coincides with the period of chronic insomnia that ended once someone had the bright idea of taking me to the symphony. Classical music wins out over Son of Blob every time, and I sleep like, well, a mastodon in tar.

I don't think I'm going to be able to sleep tonight. For one thing, the kitchen's still kinda smoky. For another, I keep thinking about that molten beast of butter and brown sugar rising malevolently over the sides of its pan. When I pulled it out of the oven, a steaming lump flew out and stuck to my collarbone. This is how it starts, I thought, it starts small, with insects and kittens, and then BAM! it's eating scientists and Dick Van Patten!