Readers, I want to share something with you.
I'm in the process of making Sauternes-Soaked Cake with Candied Kumquats and Toasted Almonds for Easter, but this is not the first time I've used this recipe.
I mean, it's the first time I've BAKED, using this recipe, but Sauternes-Soaked Cake with Candied Kumquats and Toasted Almonds and I have a history together.
Allow me to explain.
I belong to an online writer's workshop called Zoetrope. Within this site are many smaller offices, where people gather for specific things. Could be poetry, screenwriting, horror, or even how to get an agent. Some of the offices I belong to focus on flash fiction, which is generally defined as fiction under 1000 words. And in one of these offices, the Flash Factory, the fellows who run the office host a weekly contest.
The winner from the week before thinks of a prompt, and a sets a word limit. Writers have five days to post a story, then a few days to read and review the stories others have posted. By noon Friday, you vote for what you think are the top three stories, and the moderator (lately the amazing Rich Osgood) tallies the votes and posts the winners. The author of the number one story picks the prompt for the next week, and round and round it goes.
The week that I joined the Factory, I won the weekly contest, so I got to pick the prompt for the next week.
And this was MY prompt: using at least ten words from this recipe, write a flash of 1000 words or less. And what followed was the recipe for Sauternes-Soaked Cake with Candied Kumquats and Toasted Almonds.
Now, if you look at a recipe and think about fiction you'll see that there are some pretty sexy words in there, if you've got a dirty mind. I was fully expecting my own flash to be borderline erotica.
What came out was entirely different.
I will tell you all about making and eating Sauternes-Soaked Cake with Candied Kumquats and Toasted Almonds very soon, but first I want to share the fiction this recipe inspired.
So without further ado, I give you
This Is Why Microwaves Fall in Love
The toaster and the blender are having a romance. Inter-appliance dating is strictly against Kitchen Policy, but there’s really nothing I can do after the lights go out except install security cameras, and more often than not they side with the lovers and delete the incriminating files.
It’s not that I mind the dating, don’t get me wrong. It’s when they break up that the problems start. The endless bickering over who was flirting with who. The toaster oven cheated on the standing mixer with the microwave because they have so much in common.
“She really gets me when I talk about convection!” he tried to explain, but the mixer just stood in the corner and cried. For days.
“Jeez,” said the blender, “would you relax? Whadja want with that square anyways?”
The toaster and the blender are in the lovey-dovey stage of their relationship.
“Hey,” I said, tugging on the toaster’s cord, “how ‘bout some service over here?” He had muscled the coffee grinder aside and was murmuring sweet nothings to the blender, who was looking particularly trim. She must be on a diet.
“English muffins again?” he asked me as I pushed the lever down. “With peanut butter? I thought you were trying to lose weight.”
“I’m carbo-loading,” I said.
“Shyeah, right,” said the can-opener, “peanut butter is protein.”
“Not if it has sugar in it,” said the food processor, “that makes it carbs.”
“It has both, you idiots,” said the refrigerator. That shut everybody up for a second. The refrigerator is the last word on nutritional matters.
“Well, so what are you carbo-loading for?” asked the toaster. “Running a marathon?” This brought titters of laughter from all corners of the kitchen.
“I don’t appreciate your tone,” I said, and popped the English muffin up before it was done.
“Well, you don’t have to be like that,” the toaster said, while I spread peanut butter—lightly—across the split halves.
I sat at the dinette and pretended to read the paper in miffed silence.
“Oh, c’mon,” said the blender, “he was just kiddin’.”
I folded the paper, got up, and put my plate in the sink.
“It just so happens,” I said, “that I have a date.”
“She hasn’t had a—“
“Do you remember—“
“Will you bring him—“
“Is he good with—“
“Can he cook?” the stove and the mixer asked at same time.
“Jinx!” the mixer said. “Owe me a Coke!”
“Finally!” said the coffee maker, “all these short pots of coffee, day after day. I’ve been dying to have somebody fill my pot.”
The other appliances dissolved with laughter.
“He’ll put a bun in her—“
“He’ll butter her pan and—“
“He’ll beat her cream—“
“He’ll peel off her rind—“
“Is that all you guys ever think about?” I asked. “As a matter of fact, we’re going hiking.”
“And then,” I added, “we’re going out to eat.”
There was complete silence while I rinsed my coffee cup and put it into the dish rack.
“Where are you going?” the refrigerator finally asked.
“Olive Garden,” I said.
“I hear they have ten Viking ranges!”
“So what?” said the stove. “Stupid Vikings.”
“A credit-card machine,” purred the telephone.
“Why cantcha eat here?” asked the blender. “I could mix you up one-a them pina coladas!”
“And I can play Grand Funk Railroad!” yelled the stereo from the other room.
“What, to go with their frozen dinners?” asked the microwave.
“That’s true, it’s—“
“She wouldn’t want—“
I went upstairs to put on my hiking shorts and got my sports watch out of the top drawer.
“Have fun,” said the vibrator, “I’ll be here to pick up the pieces.”
“Why do you always have to be such a pessimist?” I asked, and slammed the drawer shut.
I got home later that night.
“How’d it go?” the stove asked.
“He wasn’t my type,” I said, “too machismo.”
“Told ya,” murmured the blender.
“But,” I interrupted, “I have a surprise. I won something in their charity raffle.” I pulled a slender box out of a fancy embossed bag. “It’s a milk frother. For cappuccino.” I plugged it in by the sink, next to the coffee maker.
“ ‘aloo!” she said, in a silky accent. The appliances whispered approvingly amongst themselves, except for the blender.
“Hey baby, what’s your voltage?” I heard the toaster say, and I climbed the stairs to bed.
"Perhaps the most impressive of all the cookbook blogs are the three devoted to the 2004 edition of Gourmet magazine's "The Gourmet Cookbook" -- all 5¼ pounds and 1,300-odd recipes of it. Befitting this culinary Everest, all three writers are overachievers in their professional lives."
--Lee Gomes, The Wall Street Journal, May 28, 2008
--Lee Gomes, The Wall Street Journal, May 28, 2008