Welcome to Mel’s kitchen! Just in case you assumed Jo is the only one who cooks in Wise, I’ve decided to show you what’s on my plate today: Spaghetti Dinner for 100! Well, I mean, I’m not cooking for 100. Not by myself, anyway. The event is a fundraiser for the local high school one-act play troupe, of which my Son #2 is a member. And, as parents are wont to do every waking second of every day, we (the one-act play parents) are supporting our offspring by cooking and serving a meal-for-money. Producing a quality play doesn’t come cheap, you know? In addition to the meal, several talent acts will be performing after dinner. That’s right. Dinner and a show for $7. What a deal! So, on the menu tonight: Spaghetti with meat sauce, salad, garlic bread, and tea. Dessert will cost you extra. My assignment: brown up a bunch of ground beef to dump in the pot of sauce and come up with some kind of dessert. How difficult can that be, right? Like I said…welcome to Mel’s kitchen. In this corner… The cake and frosting ingredients. I decided to bake a White Texas Sheet Cake. That’s the recipe hanging on the fridge at right. This is where I found it: http://southernfood.about.com/od/yellowandwhitecakes/r/bl30322c.htm. Can you tell I’m big on buying store brands? And, in this corner… Six and a half pounds of ground beef. And, since I’m not real fond of the smell of browning ground beef, I’ll be adding lots of onions and garlic to said ground beef. Oh, that’ll be MUCH better. As I set about to make the cake, I finally read the recipe and realize I probably don’t need the mixer. What I need is a pot to in which to melt butter. At this point, I’m wondering why I hauled out the 50-lb. KitchenAid. So, the cake gets mixed up in the pot, and poured into the 15 X 10 pan. Except it appears my pan is a tad larger than 15 X 10, because the cake batter is not…quite…reaching…the corners. Sigh. I spread the batter (rather thin) to reach all the edges. Into the oven. And, while the cake is baking, I start browning the ground beef for the spaghetti sauce. And, just so you know: 6 1/2 pounds of ground beef is PROBABLY NOT going to fit inside your really large, deep frying pan. Trust me on this. One pound had to go into the stockpot. See? At this point, I decide the pound of ground beef in the stockpot will become part of the soup I will make next. It will not be going to the school. Let’s move back to the cake side of the kitchen. So, the cake is out of the oven… Not terrible. But, pretty boring. How did that crack in the lower right get there. Oh, well. Now for the frosting. Again, I have to melt butter, but now I know why I hauled out the mixer. Because I have to send 4 1/2 cups of powdered sugar flying through the air! Exhibit “A”. (By the way, my sweater is very loose and blouse-y. Those are not my actual “rolls”.) I even got powdered sugar in the fridge… Exhibit “B”. (Yes, I amaze even me.) Continuing, hot butter and milk into the flying powdered sugar and extract (no nuts). Mix well, pour and spread onto warm cake. No problem. Except… Remember the “too large” pan issue? O.K., so there wasn’t enough frosting. More butter. More clouds of powdered sugar. Frosting: Take 2. Finally, enough frosting to reach all sides and corners of the pan. And, then some.Note: this frosting “sets up” in a hurry. You need to work fast. Faster than me. O.K., now for the whole reason for making a blank-canvas-of-a-cake: I want to write on it. Which means more frosting. But, just a little bit of chocolate frosting this time. And, here is the finished product: Just wanted to give a nod to the thespians and their play selection. Cake finished. Ground beef browned. Off to the Spaghetti Supper. NEXT DAY: Pretty good turn-out last night, but lots of leftovers. I’m waiting to find out how much money was raised. I’ll let you know. As for my cake… Well, it appears, everyone’s a critic. Poor cake. In its’ defense, there were lots of desserts from which to choose. Lots of chocolate. Two cheesecakes. German chocolate. The competition was just too tough. Or, maybe my cake is just…bad. Maybe I should taste it. Edit: Fundraiser Update – The one-act play sponsor/director just informed me that last night’s event (meal/talent show/dessert sales/donations) raised over $900! Wow, I’m impressed and she is very happy and thankful. Way to go, Wise! Thanks for your support.