Siblings and fighting go together like peanut butter and jelly, wine and cheese, and pie and ice cream, they are just a natural pairing. As I remember it, it was pretty darn fun too if nothing else was going on. My sister and I used to fight constantly and it drove our parents around the twist. Even though she was 2-1/2 years older, we were actually pretty evenly matched. What I lacked in size I made up for in stubbornness and determination. She would dig her fingernails into me and I would bite her and pull her hair. It worked out pretty well until she gave me a black eye two days before I started the sixth grade in a brand new school. I think that may have been one of our last physical altercations. It became apparent that we could really hurt each other’s image if this behavior continued. Good thing that my cuteness helped me to overcome my more than obvious affliction on that first day of school.
A couple of weeks ago a young relative of mine announced the birth of his beautiful new baby girl on his Facebook page. He had the most adorable photo of his older daughter smiling from ear to ear while holding her gorgeous new baby sister. Well you know me, I just had to say how beautiful I thought they were and then went on to add (I think this is where I might have gone too far) that the fighting should begin in about a week. Judging from his lack of a reply, I don’t think he was amused. I’m sorry, but I have virtually the same photo of my daughter holding her brand new baby brother. . .
. . . and then I have this one which was taken just a very few months later. You be the judge.
What, you think I make this stuff up?!
I was really fortunate that this is just about as bad as it got for us. I would always guilt my daughter into being kind to her brother by pointing out that she was 4-1/2 years older and hitting him would be totally uncool. As for him, I convinced him that boys don’t hit girls and thankfully that worked pretty well. Of course there was lots of shouting, some door slamming and a toy tug of war a time or two but we decided that we could definitely handle it. I think my parents really didn’t have a good argument for us other than that lame-o “you should love your sister" stuff. I don’t think they ever understood that that was how we loved each other, knowing that all would be forgiven by suppertime.
I don’t know, I may be wrong about those girls fighting but I don’t think so, they can’t help it, like I said before it’s just nature. Something else I can tell them whether they want to hear it or not; for about 10 years starting at age 8 or so their lives will be one drama after another and it won’t be from their daughters fighting with just each other. In addition to the domestic violence that will occur in their own home, they will both be fighting with other girls over boys, best friends, clothes and pretty much everything else but it won’t last long, for they will waltz out of their home as quickly as they entered it. Then, believe it or not they'll miss the loud voices, slamming doors and tug of wars, so they should enjoy every decibel because their nest will be empty before they know it. From what I understand that’s when the real fun starts for sooner or later, if you are very lucky the grandchildren will arrive.
Like my mother before me, I have bestowed upon my daughter the mother’s curse. You know the one I’m talking about, the “I hope you have one just like you” curse. Only I had such a time with my daughter that I kicked it up a notch with ultimate “I hope you have triplets just like you” curse. Don’t worry I plan on helping her out every now and then if it works. I’m going to take each one of them and have their ears pierced at 8, teach them how to put on make-up at 10 and buy them really skimpy thong underwear at 13. Hey it’s really her idea! She always told me that unlike me she’s going to be cool with her kids, so you see I really owe it to her.
Writing this post conjured memories of a little bakery that my parents used to frequent when my sister and I were in our fighting heyday. The Kolache Shop was located in a little drive-in building on the south side of Houston. I would always choose my two favorite kolaches, cherry and cream cheese that they sprinkled with the perfect amount of crunchy crumb topping. On occasion, if we were very good and had kept the fighting to a minimum, our parents would spring for a small red velvet cake with heavenly 7 Minute frosting. Since this is how I got to know this cake, to me this is how it should be made. Most recipes that I have seen call for the cake to be topped with cream cheese icing which I really love, but not for my beloved red velvet. I prefer saving my cream cheese icing for carrot or chocolate fudge cakes. I highly encourage you to make this frosting if you never have or if it has been awhile. I will tell you in advance that even though you can make it with an electric hand mixer, it really helps if you have a stand mixer. Go ahead, give it a try, its elegance will really surprise you.
As for the cake itself, I landed up making two for this post. One was a dreadful, tough recipe that was made without cocoa. Not only was it heavy and dense but without the cocoa powder, it looked a bit anemic.
My first sad attempt
The second recipe I made was from Cook's Country which I always depend on to be the best and I wasn't disappointed. I really wanted to bake my cake from scratch for this post, and although this recipe was very good, I have to admit that Duncan Hines makes a great mix and at $1.25 it is much cheaper than the $2.50 bottle of red food coloring that I had to buy just to get started. If you can't find or don't have access to Duncan Hines mixes, this is really a good recipe.
Thanks to Cook's Country, my successful second attempt
Red Velvet Cake
2-1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1-1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1/2 teaspoons salt
1 cup buttermilk
1 tablespoon white vinegar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 large eggs
2 tablespoons cocoa powder
2 tablespoons liquid red food coloring
12 tablespoons (1-1/2 sticks) butter, softened to room temperature
1-1/2 cups granulated sugar
Preheat oven to 350 degrees 180C.
Grease and flour 2 – 9” cake pans or one 9 x 13” baking dish; set aside.
Whisk flour, baking soda and salt in a medium size bowl; set aside.
Whisk buttermilk, vinegar, vanilla and eggs in a small bowl or cup; set aside.
Mix cocoa and food coloring until a paste is formed; set aside.
With an electric mixer beat butter and sugar until fluffy, approximately 2 minutes. Add 1/3 of the flour mix and beat on medium low speed about 30 seconds.
Add 1/2 of the buttermilk mixture and beat on low to combine, about 30 seconds. Scrape down sides and repeat with 1/2 of the remaining flour, all of the remaining buttermilk mixture and finally the remaining flour mixture, beating well after each addition. Scrape down the sides of the bowl before adding cocoa paste and beating on medium speed about 30 seconds or until completely combined.
Pour into the prepared pans and bake until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean, approximately 35 - 40 minutes for the 9 x 13” pan or 20 – 25 minutes for the 9” round pans. Allow cakes to cool in the pans for 10 minutes before turning out onto a rack to complete cooling.
7 Minute Frosting
1 cup plus 1 tablespoon granulated sugar
1 teaspoon light corn syrup
4 large egg whites, room temperature
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Place one cup sugar, corn syrup and 1/2 cup water in a small saucepan. Cook, stirring occasionally until the mixture begins to simmer and sugar has dissolved, approximately 6 – 7 minutes. Wash down the sides of the pan with a wet pastry brush to prevent crystals from forming. Raise heat to medium high. Cook without stirring, until a candy thermometer reaches 235 degrees (soft ball).
While the syrup is cooking, put room temperature egg whites in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment. Beat on medium speed until soft peaks form. Gradually add the remaining 1 tablespoon of the sugar and the vanilla extract. Continue beating until peaks are fluffy but still soft. Slowly pour in the hot syrup, drizzling it down the side of the bowl. Raise the mixer speed to high and beat the mixture until it has cooled and stiff peaks form, approximately 7 minutes. Use immediately.
Makes 4 cups of frosting
Drizzle the hot sugar syrup down the side of the mixer bowl containing the beaten egg whites while mixing on medium high
After mixing on high for approximately 7 minutes to cool the frosting, you will have a stiff yet glossy and soft frosting that I can only describe as cloud like