‘”What does that mean?” I asked.
“Sleep in. Read in the hammock. Maybe fall asleep in the hammock. Walk Iris. Float in the pool.”
It sounded so nice. She had a whole two-and-a-half days to pack in all that chilling before taking off on a family vacation, then heading to sleep away camp. But I imagine she won’t have too much trouble picking up right where she left off when she returns.
Her sister is a different story. Chilling is a concept that Abby has always had trouble grasping. She likes to have plans. She likes to be busy. As I wrote in my last book, as a toddler she famously said, I’m so glad I’m not awake when I’m sleeping, because I’d be so bored.
She has a week of camp here and there, too, but she also has a few stretches of absolutely nothing, and one of those absolutely nothing stretches was last week. A few friends were around, so there was some hanging out; There was some running (pre-season approaching rapidly); Much to my delight there was some walking into town, picking up lunch for mom, then dropping it at mom’s office for lunch. (I could get used to that.)
But mostly, there was baking.
There is a long tradition of summer baking in my house. (Remember our Summer of Self-Sufficiency?) I’ve always believed that baking is the gateway drug to cooking, and I encourage them to get creative with the standing mixer whenever possible. Plus, even though I myself am much more of a cook than a baker, we have a pretty decent library in our kitchen, so cookie and cupcake inspiration is always only an arm’s length away.
Which is why I was surprised to hear her answer when I asked what book she’d like to browse for ideas.
“I don’t need a book. I have So Yummy.”
So Yummy? What the…?
“Um…What is that?”
“Mom, only like 4 million people follow them on instagram.”
“Oh, so it’s an instagram video?” She knows how I feel about those. “I don’t understand why you have to use your phone for a recipe when there are a zillion books right in front of you.”
Of course, it was less about her using the phone than about me, a cookbook author, feeling irrelevant. (Plus the name So Yummy was almost too much for me to bear.)
But as soon as she showed me the recipe she was planning on making, a molten Red Velvet Oreo Lava Cake, I understood. It involved whipping Oreo filling with cream cheese, and molten cream oozing out of the final bright pink product and all I could do was picture a bunch of really savvy people sitting around a conference table saying How many things can we put in this recipe that a 13-year-old kid would go literally crazy over.
It’s a good business plan. And by So Yummy standards, that recipe, which she made on a Monday, was relatively simple. Tuesday was deep-fried apple hand-pies. (Think apple pies from McDonald’s ca. 1976; Abby is sautéing the filling in the opening photo.) Wednesday’s recipe, which she made with a friend, was Oreo Cookie Chocolate Cheese Cake. And Thursday was the truly genius, truly repulsive Fruity Pebbles Marshmallow Roll.…
…Picture Rice Krispies Treats made with Fruity Pebbles…
…then spread out on a cookie sheet…
…spackled with marshmallow fluff…
rolled like a giant sushi roll…
…sliced, and then, supposedly, dipped into white chocolate.
I made her skip the white chocolate part on principle. “Is it not enough to schmear a sheet of buttery, sticky Fruity-Pebbles with Marshmallow Fluff?” I asked when we were shopping for ingredients. “You really think this recipe needs white chocolate? You really think this basket is missing something sweet?” We looked at the basket.
Of course, none of these recipes are based on what they need from a flavor profile perspective. It’s the obscene over-the-top-ness of them — sugar on top of sugar on top of sugar — that is so appealing.
I put my sunglasses and baseball hat on before heading to the register.
The good news, though, is that I was rarely doing the shopping with her. I was rarely doing any of it with her actually, which is of course a good way for anyone to learn the ropes. (Though I will say that So Yummy has a tendency to condense a complicated technique into mere seconds, so it’s easy for kids to end up frustrated.) A big part of the project was walking into town to procure ingredients on her own with money from her own wallet. So by the time she selected the recipe, shopped for what she needed, baked whatever madness was on the menu, then cleaned up the whole thing, a good chunk of the day was gone. And a good chunk of something sweet — really sweet — was waiting for us after dinner.