Sunday, November 13, 2011

The Evils of Cheesecake

 "She's gone to the Enchanted Forest on the other side of the mountains to borrow a crepe pan from a witch she knows."
"She's what?" said the knight.
"She's gone to borrow a crepe pan," Cimorene repeated in a louder voice. "Perhaps you'd better have your helmet checked when you get back. They're not supposed to interfere with your hearing, but sometimes—"
"Oh, I heard you," the knight said. "But what does a dragon want with a crepe pan?"
"She doesn't want it; I do. I found a recipe in the library that I want to try, and the kitchen just isn't equipped to handle anything but the most ordinary cooking. Kazul will fix that eventually, but for the time being we have to borrow things like crepe pans and souffle dishes."
"You really do like it here," the knight said wonderingly.

Patricia C. Wrede, Dealing with Dragons

I have, taped to the wall of my bedroom, a Forbidden List. It's a list of ways to end the sentence "When I get home from my mission*, I'm going to . . ." It enumerates the books I planned to read, the movies I planned to watch, the people I planned to spend time with, and the goals I intended to accomplish once my time behind the tag was complete and I was my own mistress again. It's basically an 8.5"x11" sheet of concentrated homesickness. That's why it was Forbidden.

Now, of course, it's not Forbidden any more, but I haven't changed the title because The Perfectly Acceptable and Appropriate List doesn't have the same ring to it. The List has been a guide and a comfort to me, reminding me of all the wonderful things there are to do in the world and how lovely it is to have the freedom to do them. Some, like falling asleep with my face in a novel or eating at Famous Dave's Barbeque, I managed within 24 hours of landing in the United States. Others, like learning to play the guitar or seeing Half-Blood Prince, I haven't gotten around to yet. But this weekend I decided that I would check off a goal that's been bugging me for some time: I would learn to make cheesecake.

My master plan was to make the cheesecake on Saturday afternoon, and have it finished and in the fridge by the time I had to leave for Stake Conference**. So to that end I went shopping/exploring/poking about on Saturday morning, to see if any of my usual haunts for purchasing odds and ends would have such a thing as a spring-form pan handy. No such luck. (They did, however, have The Italian Job on DVD for a dollar fifty. Score!) So, spring-form-pan-less, I went home and curled up in bed with the new love of my life, Brandon Sanderson. (Not actually Brandon Sanderson himself. I assume he's married. And my bed isn't really big enough to share anyway, with all these bolster pillows on it. [Sorry, Professor Sanderson.] What I mean to imply is that I curled up in bed by myself and fell asleep listening to one of his books.) And of course I fell asleep. And of course I woke up much later than I should have. (It was dark! It felt like nighttime! Give a girl a break.)

Anyway, I dragged myself out of my warm bed into the cold world to consult with Marjie, my landlady/housemate/zany church lady. "What time are you leaving for Stake Conference?" I enquired.

"Oh, tonight's just youth session, I thought," answered Marjie blithely.

Now, I was about 68% sure that she was wrong about this, and that there was in fact a Saturday evening adult session that we were supposed to attend. However, the options appeared to me thusly:

1. I could check my planner, find I had to go to Stake Conference, get dressed up, go out in the cold, sit perfectly still for two hours, come home, and make no cheesecake.

2. I could check my planner, find that Marjie was correct, and stay in the warm cosy house with a fire going and make cheesecake.

3. I could NOT check my planner, assume Marjie was right, stay in the warm cozy house, make a cheesecake, and when when asked tomorrow respond honestly "Oh, did we have adult session last night? Marjie said it was just the youth session, so I thought I'd gotten mixed up. But look, I made cheesecake!"

Guess which option I went for. ***

So I made a pumpkin cheesecake.  From all I've heard, cheesecakes are supposed to be really finicky and complicated, but either I'm really talented or everyone was lying or I just had a cooperative cheesecake with a positive, can-do attitude, because the darn thing turned out pretty as a picture. Of course, it would have been prettier with a spring-form pan, but that's what Christmas is for, right?

Come on . . . wouldn't you sell your soul for this?

So I went to bed happy as a clam, with a beautiful cheesecake setting in the fridge, and woke up the next morning rarin' to go for Stake Conference. I showered, dressed, attended to hair and makeup, and in general did everything to nurture my image as a good and faithful young lady who would never skip out on an edifying meeting just to make cheesecake at home.

While warming up for choir, I ran into my parents. "You missed out on a good talk," my dad informed me.

"Oh, gosh, did I?" said I.

"Elder Robbins gave a great talk about cookies."

"About cookies, you say?"

"Yeah. He talked about having to resist the temptation of freshly baked cookies, when the smell's wafting all over the house, and how it's better to just not have any cookies lying around in the first place if you know you're not supposed to eat them."


So the entire stake was listening to an extended metaphor in which temptation was represented by baked goods, while I was at home making a cheesecake. And if chocolate chip cookies are enough to endanger Elder Robbins's immortal soul, what chance do I stand with a pumpkin cheesecake with sour cream topping stashed in the fridge?

I still had my last innocence-card to play. As we walked into the chapel, I found where Marjie was sitting and ran up to her. "There was adult session last night! We missed it!"

"I can't believe you fell for that," Marjie told me cheerfully.

I stared. Marjie, my mom, and their friend Connie all started laughing.

"I'm going to Hell," I told Marjie, "and it's entirely your fault."

"Oh, go sing," said Marjie, waving me and my damnèd soul away towards the choir.

After church, I made sure to share the cheesecake with Marjie, my parents, and both my siblings, just to make sure that if I do go to Hell, I'll take all of them with me.

*For details of said mission, please visit

**Stake Conference: two long hours of church Saturday night and two more long hours of it on Sunday morning. Universally acknowledged to be the most boring meeting of all the year.

***I could, I suppose, have verified that there was Stake Conference and then decided not to go to it, but that's taking entirely too much personal responsibility for my own decisions. I'm just not comfortable with that.


  1. Ha! Do they have youth sessions at stake conference?

    I just started listening to The Way of Kings while painting. Since this is The Painting That Never Ends, I need very long books to listen to. (It's kind of funny listening to a book I haven't read, though--I'll hear a name an think, "I wonder how that's spelled?") Have you read The Name of the Wind? I enjoyed that a lot.

  2. 1. Half-Blood Prince is awesome.

    2. I envy you the cheesecake (of course, this either means I'm going to hell for a deadly sin or heading the opposite direction...)

    3. I put that book on *my* list.

    Must say I love reading what you write as much as ever. :)