Food: Reflections on the perils of homemade skis
One day last week I watched with resignation as my snow plow driver came once again to heighten the huge white mounds ringing my driveway. They are growing to impressive heights and every time I pass one, it reminds me of when I was a kid and we used to play on the behemoth heaps that the town crew dumped in an empty field a short way from our house.
We reveled in scrambling to their peaks and then warding off anyone who was bold enough to challenge our supremacy, shouting all the while, “I’m king of the hill!” After that game we would smooth out a path and find a conveyance to take us down these piles. Sometimes it was a piece of cardboard, sometimes it was a plastic sled; even the smooth bottom of a snow suit was suitable in times of need.
I can recall one time getting the brilliant idea to improvise a set of skis. I found a couple of two-by-fours in our garage that I thought would fit the bill and actually nailed my boots to these boards. I was feeling pretty smug teetering on that big heap of snow but the instant I pushed off, I knew I was in trouble. The blunt ends of my “skis” caught and I flopped down that pile head-over-tail like a rag doll.
I’m sure incidents like this are the reason why there are guardian angels, and mine was doing overtime when I came crashing to the bottom in a flurry of snow spray and ice. While this performance caused an uproarious response from siblings and neighborhood playmates, the fun continued when I had to walk back home with those boards attached to my boots. Cars came to a crawl as their occupants watched me trudge through the downtown area with a Bigfoot-like gait. And the fun continued when my mother realized that my perfectly good snow boots were now perforated with drywall nails.
I look back on those days fondly, though, when snow was all fun and none of the work. There was a time when I didn’t worry about the propane tank going empty or driving in blizzard conditions to get to and from work, or the seemingly endless shoveling of deck and walkways.
Snow days were always the best. When a storm was predicted my dad would say, “Looks like you kids might have a snow day tomorrow,” and we would go to bed with smiles on our faces. And if his prediction came true, we donned our warm clothes and made snowmen and forts, and had snowball fights.
All that cold and youthful exuberance created hefty appetites and when we came in for lunch, Mom cooked us grilled cheese sandwiches and tomato soup. We had mugs of hot chocolate laced with marshmallows and somehow, that was the best-tasting food ever.
Sometimes if the weather was really bad, we stayed in and “helped” Mom in the kitchen. We would always make a batch of cupcakes and even to this day, when I am snowed in I like to make the recipe I included for this week. We kept busy making them, and the finished product tastes so good on a cold and snowy day.
But those heaps of white that ring my driveway are looking more and more promising for a good game of King of the Mountain. In fact, when I take Homey for a walk, he scrambles up them like a pro and then looks down on me as if saying, “Ha ha, I am top dog!” But as far as me skiing down them, that’s pretty much out of the question. I’m fresh out of two-by-fours.
Cream Filled Cupcakes
3 cups flour
2 cups white sugar
1/2 cup cocoa
2 tsp. baking soda
2 cups water
2/3 cup cooking oil
2 Tbs. vinegar
2 tsp. vanilla
Mix above ingredients as for a cake. Fill paper-lined cupcake pans about half-full.
8 oz. cream cheese
1/3 cup white sugar
Dash of salt
1 cup chocolate bits
Blend above ingredients and drop a heaping teaspoon of filling into each cupcake. Bake at 350 degrees for 15 to 18 minutes.