I’m a good baker. Cook, not so much (I mean, do people really have to eat a different meal every single night????? Come on. Couldn’t we skip dinners altogether? Have cereal for dinner? Every night?). But a good baker. At least, most of the time. Amidst the cakes I’m incredibly proud of are a few whopping disasters. And my vinegar cakes would easily top that list.
To be clear, I didn’t mean to make vinegar cakes that day. They were supposed to be chocolate fudge. I’d been craving a piece of chocolate fudge cake and my family has a totally foolproof recipe (ha! ummm…) which tastes amazing so I pulled it out. (Should probably mention I was about ten at the time – and had made this recipe dozens of times.)
I have no idea what my brain was doing that day but I somehow mixed up the milk and vinegar. Instead of curdling the three cups of milk with two tablespoons of vinegar, I mixed two tablespoons of milk with three cups of vinegar and poured it in. I remember thinking vaguely that that seemed weird but checked the recipe, assured myself it was right and kept going. Like I said, no idea where my brain was!
I wouldn’t have even noticed the mistake except I got a bit of mixture on my finger while I was pouring it into the baking tins and licked it off. Ewwwwwww! Seriously. It was gross. Looked exactly right, tasted so horribly wrong.
Needless to say, I threw the whole batch of mixture out. Well, most of it. The part curious, part impish part of me cooked six cupcakes thinking they’d make a good practical joke. And believe me, they looked good. You totally couldn’t tell from a glance that there was anything wrong with them.
As no doubt you can tell from the heading, my aunt was the poor unsuspecting person we (yep, a brother was in on the joke by now) foisted the vinegar cupcake on. It seems so mean now but we thought it was hilarious at the time.
We told her we’d made a special cupcake just for her. She thanked us and stood there, eating that cake like nothing was wrong even though with each bite her face got a little more scrunched up with the pain. I was trying so hard not to laugh that I had tears running down my face while my brother was quite literally rolling on the floor laughing. Honestly, I thought she’d take a bite and spit it out. (I certainly would have!) I was wrong. She ate the whole thing. Every single disgusting crumb.
We, of course, asked how it was. She said it was nice. We gave in and told her it was vinegar (as if she didn’t know). She said she thought it tasted a bit strange. I asked why she’d eaten it then, our joke kind of falling flat by that point, especially when she answered.
“Because I knew you’d made it and I didn’t want to upset you.”
At the time, I thought she was kind of ridiculous. I mean, did she really think I thought it tasted any good?? But now, all I can think is how much she loved me. She ate that entire vinegar cupcake. For me. Because she didn’t want me to be sad. Because she didn’t want to discourage my baking skills. Because I’d asked her to and she didn’t want to disappoint me. Because that’s what love does.
I want to love like that. The people who bring their own vinegar cakes, be they difficult attitudes, annoying timing, things that just grate against me the wrong way… Not because it’s easy, practical or even nice for me but because I love them and I want them to know. Because they matter. Because it’s what Jesus does every day for me.
I want to love like my aunt who ate an entire vinegar cake, not because it tasted any good but because she loved me.
How about you?