Editor’s Column: The beginning of the world’s first thawbook

Cookbooks abound on store shelves. Anyone who has ever successfully baked a cake ends up writing a book about it and peddling it on Ellen, Oprah or dozens of other shows on cable. Often they sell thousands which join the millions of other unread cookbooks on the nation’s shelves. The best thing about Kindle and other electronic reading devices is that they can store thousands of books but since nobody else can see the titles, they impress no one. So let’s put an end to the decorative cookbooks and use all that extra kitchen shelf space as guest beds for thin visitors.

Cookbooks abound on store shelves. Anyone who has ever successfully baked a cake ends up writing a book about it and peddling it on Ellen, Oprah or dozens of other shows on cable. Often they sell thousands which join the millions of other unread cookbooks on the nation’s shelves. The best thing about Kindle and other electronic reading devices is that they can store thousands of books but since nobody else can see the titles, they impress no one. So let’s put an end to the decorative cookbooks and use all that extra kitchen shelf space as guest beds for thin visitors.

Besides, who has time to cook? Like millions of other Americans, when I get home after a long day at work I mostly thaw, but I’ve never seen a thawbook. It’s hit and miss on how best to thaw frozen vegetables, pizzas and pot pies. I’ve learned through experience how hot to really have the oven for Tater Tots and how long to best thaw the peas in a pan without them coming out tasting like tiny rubber ball.

I take most pride in my skill in thawing Pepperidge Farm cakes. In a celebration pinch when you have no  time to make a real cake with the consistency of Play-Do and taste of flour glue, just reach for the Pepperidge Farm. If it’s a fancy birthday, stack up two coconut white cakes; if it’s a wedding stack up four or more and stick a bride and groom on top. However you stack the cakes, the secret is in the thawing.

Saturday we culminated a birthday party and dinner for a two-year-old with a single-cake birthday, opting for the white coconut instead of the equally delicious chocolate. But we were in a hurry and the question was how to thaw the cake quickly.

The answer was to take it entirely out of the box and set it on the porch, where flickering sunlight would hit it along with a slight breeze. We kept a wary eye out in case a hungry mutt walked by or a diabetic eagle swooped down from above, but it was untouched except for some early season flies. After 45 minutes, it was thawed perfectly.

In thawing a cake, you don’t want soft, gooey frosting or a warm, mushy inside. You want a firm frosting and a inside that is tender and cool but not frozen, just enough to hold the crumbs together. This one thawed ideally. Unfortunately, the two-year-old decided to squash it into what looked like a pile of mashed potatoes, which was his way of saying he wanted chocolate. Well, he should have said so in the first place.

Depending on the timing, cakes can be thawed in the box in the refrigerator or on top of the toaster. Sometimes one box flap must be opened to quicken the process, sometimes two, and sometimes the cake has to be thawed entirely unboxed: Whatever it takes for the perfect texture to result.

Thus ends Chapter 1 of the world’s first thawbook. Chapter 2 will deal with thawing ice cream so it’s not stone cold and tasteless. In a few months look for the finished book in a Kindle near you.

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