We were chatting in the kitchen as I was putting together the cake when "whooooooom," the lights dimmed waaaay down. Then came back up. My husband said, "That's weird. That was like a brown out." He was concerned how that might have affected his computer and turned it off. After several minutes with no further funkiness from the lights he turned the computer back on and found his speakers were toast and started smelling an acrid, burny smell. Dang, it blew out the speakers.
About 20 minutes later the lights dimmed again and we heard pops as light bulbs blew. 10 minutes after that our living room lamps turned themselves on, the ceiling fan turned itself on then we heard a "pop" and smoke started coming out of it. We ran around unplugging all of the appliances we could think of and then heard a loud "POP" from my daughter's room. Her stereo had smoke coming out of it so we quickly unplugged it and took it outside to the deck.
At this point my husband had to leave for the airport. My daughter and I sat huddled on the couch in the dark, wrapped in a blanket, hearts racing, praying. Every few minutes we'd hear an eerie buzz/ hum and then something would pop.
At about midnight I called the power company and they said they'd have someone out within an hour. And if I was feeling uneasy, I should call 911 to have the fire department come out to shut off power to the house. Uneasy? I was terrified! I called and within minutes a fire truck pulled up in front of the house and 3 burly men came in to check out the house. They were great. They turned off the power, checked for smoke, and brought out a thermal imager so they could see inside the walls for smoldering. None, thank God!
My husband got home at that point and showed them where the scorch marks were on the outlets and surge protectors. They called the power company and leaned on them to get out a little quicker and the end result was that by 3 am we were all able to go to bed with a machine attached to our power junction box to make sure our power would not go wonky again. If you're an electronics nerd, you can read what happened here.
So, while others were having picnics, enjoying the day of vacation, and relaxing, we were doing home inventory. Amazingly, good surge protectors saved our computers, our television stuff, and my sewing machine. My husband found some tripped GFI's and reset them to resurrect several appliances and my kitchen outlets. So, we were doing pretty well. My worst fear, the house burning down and my children frying in their beds, did not come to pass. The next fear, of everything exploding, also did not come to pass. But what did die, sadly, was my ovens. Yes, my lovely ovens have no pulse, not a flicker of life in them.
I have so much to be thankful for, I know. And I concentrate on that. But a part of me mourns my oven. We'll call the repair people today and see what can be done for them. But until then, it's stove-top and crock pot cooking for me. If you know any great crock pot cookie recipes, let me know.
Among my blessings to count is that I did get the cake finished before the house tried to commit electrical seppuku. So I was able to make my patriotic Red, White, and Blueberry Trifle. Here's the recipe and the moral of the tale: Invest in good surge protectors! They're insurance - you might not ever need them, but when you need them, you're so glad you have them.
Red, White, and Blueberry Trifle
A traditional trifle uses a sponge cake, but I used a silver cake since I like the flavor, plus the egg whites in the cake balance out the yolks in the custard. You can also use angel food cake.
- adapted from Have Your Cake and Eat It, Too by Susan Purdy
2 cups sifted cake flour
1 Tbsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
4 large egg whites, at room temperature
3/4 cup plus 2 Tbsp granulated sugar, divided
1/3 cup canola or safflower oil
1/2 cup skim or 1 % milk
2 tsp vanilla extract
1 tsp almond or orange extract
1- Position a rack in the center of the oven and preheat to 350 deg. F. Coat 2 8-inch round cake pans with cooking spray, dust them with flour, and tap out excess flour.
2- Into a medium bowl sift together the flour, baking powder, and salt.
3- In a large grease-free bowl, whip the egg whites until foamy. Slowly add 1/4 plus 2 Tbsp of the sugar, and whip until the whites are stiff but not dry. I used my hand mixer for this, but you can use a stand mixer, also.
4- In another large bowl whisk together the oil, the remaining 1/2 cup sugar, the milk, the vanilla, and almond extract. Beat until well blended. Whisk in about half of the flour mixture. Then alternately fold in the whipped egg whites and the remaining flour, being careful not to stir and deflate the whites.
5- Divide the batter evenly between he prepared pans. Bake for about 20 minutes, or until the cake is spriny to the touch and a cake tester inserted in the center of a layer comes out clean. Cool the cake in the pans on a wire rack for 10 minutes. Top each layer with another rack, invert, and remove the pans. Cool completely.
4 egg yolks, beaten
1/4 cup sugar
1/4 tsp salt
1 Tbsp cornstarch
1 tsp vanilla
1-1/2 cups scalded milk
Put a large saucepan with a few inches of water in it over medium-high heat. In a heat-proof bowl that can rest over the saucepan, combine the egg yolks, sugar, salt, cornstarch, and vanilla. Place the bowl over simmering, not boiling, water, stirring constantly. When custard coats a rubber spatula with a thin coating (you can draw a line with your finger in the custard on the spatula and it will stay), remove from the heat. Pour into a bowl, press plastic wrap onto the top, and set in the refrigerator to cool.
Raspberry or strawberry jam
Fresh raspberries and Blueberries
1 cup whipping cream
1 tsp vanilla
1-2 tsp sugar (vanilla sugar is good here)
Whip together the whipping cream with the vanilla. Gently shake the sugar over the cream as you are whipping it. For best success in whipping cream, especially in the summer, place the bowl and beaters that you will use into the refrigerator 2 hours before you make the cream. Otherwise the heat from the beater friction can melt the fat in the cream and make it greasy.
Chunk one layer of the cake into the bottom of your prettiest clear bowl or trifle dish. Dab on globs of jam. Sprinkle with half of the blueberries then half the raspberries. Pour 1/2 of the custard over this. Spread half of the whipped cream over that layer. Repeat the layers with the remaining ingredients. Garnish, if desired with a few berries or mint leaves.
If there are any leftovers, store them covered in the refrigerator.
(I'm still accepting entries for the contest in the previous post. The drawing will be held later this week.)