It’s way past midnight. I’m the only soul that’s awake in my house, my office hours start at 10 PM. I’m in the guest bedroom, which used to be the baby’s room but the fan in here is undecided; it rotates like a footballer’s warming up session: Sprint, stop, sprint, stop.
I’m getting hungrier by the minute. Every word I write seems to get an ounce of glucose out of me. This article ought to be sweeter than Ezekiel’s scroll. The curtain is pink and peach, with images of Mickey Mouse smiling at me. I forgot to remove it when I switched the babies’ room. It reminds me of ice-cream which is not helping with my glucose situation.
My mind wanders to my kitchen, I look around with my ‘spiritual eyes’ and I can see Samuel Taylor staring at me, repeating those ancient words, “Water, water everywhere …” There’s food everywhere, but nothing I can eat. I regret writing my New Year resolutions with a pencil. If I had used Bic crystal, I’d have remembered to buy apples and apple mangoes. What can I do with onions and butternut and a very lonely looking yam at 12:47 AM? That yam looks hungrier than me.
I stroll to the kitchen to join my mind, grab a cup of water and head back to writing.
In the morning (rather, later that morning), I drop off Miss Z to school and invite a friend over for a lunch date. I don’t know yet, but this is God giving me a second chance to write my resolutions with a Bic crystal.
I often say that there are times when all I need is to meet and sit with another mum and have a conversation that doesn’t include words like, “No, Stop, nitakuchapa, say sorry, I said stop! Good girl!” I rather enjoy the last phrase, we say it in song in our house;
“Good girl, good girl,
Shake your collar, shake your collar,
You are the best!”
Our talk somehow gets to baking. I lament how my oven got spoilt and she says, “bake in your microwave’.
I’ve heard that before. I don’t think it works. I want my cake to brown, to smell like a thousand babies’ laughter. I just love the smell of a cake baking. I even heard once that it’s the stuff that makes men propose marriage and stay faithful – just to be coming home to the smell of something baking in the oven. Oh, well, they eventually come home to the smell of the microwave’s ching after warming last week’s pojo, but, heck, it’s not called a marriage ‘institution’ for nothing.
“Google ‘cake in a mug’” She says. I oblige.
The recipe says it’ll take me 70 seconds to make a cake in a microwave with a mug. I remember my glucose levels last night and the sorry looking yam and I know I have to try this. I bought my baking powder when Mugabe was still president so I go out and get a new packet.
Like a good girl, I follow the recipe, I mix up the ingredients in a blue mug that my sister bought for me. She visited and found that I was still using the cups you guys gave me on my wedding. I still had like four cups, which all looked like siblings born of different mothers. Nothing alike.
So, I mix up and then put it in the microwave. I know the recipe said 70 seconds but I don’t believe it. It may have been written by someone who works for the New York Times. So I put 2 minutes.
I stand there to witness a miracle. I’m peeping at the microwave, my hands scooped into a shield to help me see better inside the microwave. The batter is actually rising! I stand there the full two minutes, squinting into the microwave, waiting for the ching. Finally, it’s done.
I stare at the cup in my hands. It’s a cake! A freaking cake made in two minutes in a microwave that you guys also bought for me at my wedding. It’s spongy and chocolatey and yummy! I’m excited and apprehensive in equal measure. Excited because I now have a quick midnight snack for the days when I’m out of apples – which are more days than I want to admit. Apprehensive because, well, the waistline will not be happy.
Later in the evening, I google: Is it safe to bake a cake in the microwave?
Turns out it is!
And because I used to be a good Presbyterian, I will share with you the recipe.
3 tbsp all-purpose flour
2 tbsp cocoa powder (you can use drinking chocolate too)
2 tbsp sugar (caster sugar works best, but your normal granulated sugar is just fine)
1 tsp baking powder
3 tbsp milk
3 tbsp vegetable oil
Put the dry ingredients together in your biggest ceramic mug and mix
Thoroughly beat your egg (the more you beat, the fluffier the cake will be)
Add the milk to the beaten egg and stir
Add the oil and stir
Pour the liquid mixture into the dry ingredients mixture
Mix the batter until it’s smooth with no flour lumps
Put your microwave on maximum heat and bake for 2 minutes
Hide and eat alone! Ok, don’t.