It is a tradition at our house for me to make a special cake at Christmas. I search through the pages of my cookbook collection to find just the right cake. It has to meet specific criteria to be selected as the cake of the year. It has to include lots of ingredients, things like whipping cream, sour cream, should require a day’s time to create, and preferably contain some form of chocolate. One cake was so special that I made it two years in a row.
I must also admit that not all of the Christmas cakes have been so perfect. One year I attempted to make my mother’s famous Jam Cake. The problem was that I had only the list of ingredients. The instructions for making the cake had been torn from the bottom of the worn piece of paper on which they were written. The missing piece must have included the part about cooking the caramel frosting to a certain temperature. When I poured the boiling icing from the pan, it began immediately to set up like concrete in the center of the cake. Forgetting that the icing was still boiling, I scraped the wooden spoon with my finger. No one wanted a piece of the Christmas cake that year! Not only because a chain saw wouldn’t slice it, but because we knew the missing skin from my finger was lodged somewhere in that cake!
The cake of 2003 would prove to be different. The Christmas cake for the year was Blackberry, Raspberry, Truffle Cake. This is where the decadent part comes in. When I finished this creation, it was an astounding seven and a half inches tall! We changed the name of it to The Christmas Tall Cake. The cake lid would not fit over it. When I sliced it, it was hanging off the dessert plate, so I had to serve it on dinner plates. But, let me tell you that it was the lightest, fluffiest, most delicious cake I had ever tasted!
From the first bite I put into my mouth, I knew that my body was in trouble. I served my family, took it to my in-law’s house, and tried to push some of it off on everyone there that day. Ultimately, I returned home with about half the cake left. That’s not all that was left. My children left, my husband left for the weekend, and I was left…alone…with the The Christmas Tall Cake! In my own defense, I was left defenseless.
Every time I would walk through the kitchen, it would call to me, “Hey Baby, come slice a piece. Just a little bit won’t hurt you.” I would reply with “Maybe just a sliver.” And so it went, for about half a day. I could identify with Adam and Eve. By the time I had finished, I had consumed far more than a sliver. I can feel you identifying with me now, because you’ve done it too! Reality and consequences set in when I stepped onto the scales. With all the courage I could muster, I went into the kitchen and scraped that forbidden cake into the trash. I felt so proud!
My youngest daughter came home for lunch the next day. She inquired, “Mama, where’s the cake?” I told her that I had thrown it into the trashcan. “What!” she replied, with a bit of panic in her voice. “Well, the trashcan has a fresh liner in it, so the cake is clean, if you want to dig it out.” said I. “I am not going to dig through the trash for a piece of cake! That’s gross!” she snapped. ”Well, I’m not too proud to!” at which point I helped myself to another bit of cake!
I had failed. Not only had I failed, but I lied too. When I confessed this story to my weight loss friends, I told them that I used a spoon to dig out the cake, when the truth is; I just lunged for it with my bare hands. I have now confessed, repented, and I feel so much better. I have returned to my healthy eating habits. I had failed to adhere to the food plan that I knew to be right for me. The first slice of cake, which I had allowed for my special treat, would have been fine. But, it’s like one wise, anonymous, person once said, “It’s not the minutes spent at the table that make us fat, it’s the seconds.”
All of us have danger foods, foods that we can’t eat just a little of. Overindulging in any food is going to pack on the pounds. If we identify those danger foods and rid our pantries and fridges of them, we find it much easier to make wiser food choices. It’s been said that we are what we eat. I love cake, but I don’t want to look like one, round, layers of fat! Nor do I want to look like a celery stick, though the media sends the message that is what we are supposed to look like. A hot tamale with a belt cinching in the waist, is more my goal.
We need not feel deprived of something that we like to eat, rather we should allow for eating some of those danger foods occasionally. When food shopping look for healthier substitutions for some of those favorite foods. Though fat-free and low fat isn’t always the way to go, because a lot of these foods are loaded with sugar, many of them are good choices. Just read the labels, and remember that a little fat goes a long way to satiate the appetite.
Looking on the positive side, failure is always followed by a second chance. I am so grateful for second chances aren’t you? I have learned a bittersweet lesson. Second chances don’t include seconds.