Thursday, January 27, 2011

Pudding Woes

Kevin wasn't coming home after work. No Daddy at dinnertime, no hero to put the kids to bed. Just me and my four children, all alone against the elements of a weeknight. A friend suggested I get my kids to help me make mini-pizzas followed by that pudding/banana/Nilla wafer dessert. This would pass the time and hopefully make the evening fun.

I made a grocery list for our menu, and lucked out when another friend kept the older three kids while John and I headed to the store. Once home, I realized I had gotten everything except the pudding, which is kind of crucial to the dessert. I called or texted all six of my neighbors, hoping someone had a box of vanilla pudding on hand. Nalleys - no. Mayers - no. Earlys - no. Elisaldezes - no. Kings - no. Rickards - yes! This was great news because I really had no energy or desire to load up the van and go back to the grocery store.

I procured the pudding and mixed it with milk and THEN noticed that I had a smaller box than the recipe called for. But I'd already added the larger quantity of milk. Texted Derryck Rickards again: "Do you happen to have TWO boxes of pudding?" The reply: "Sorry, no." Called Kristi and asked if she would interrupt her own dinner prep and evening craziness to come hang out at my house for 15 minutes while I ran to the store without kids. She said yes.

I was in a rush. I grabbed the pudding and narrowly missed colliding with a guy in the baking aisle as I attempted to dart between him and his cart while he looked at something on the shelf opposite. He finished looking and turned to his cart, not knowing a crazy lady with three boxes of vanilla pudding would be zooming by. Mutual apologies.

Shrewdly, I bypassed all the long lines at the checkstands to use the self-serve. Scanned the first box of pudding and an annoying pop-up informed me that "the attendant has been summoned and will help you shortly". Out loud, I said, "Seriously?" and scooted to the next station. I'm not sure if the attendant ever appeared. I think the attendant is a ruse. The whole point of the self-serve is to eliminate humans, right? That's my impression.

At home, I ripped open the new package of pudding, but just before adding it to my earlier mixture, Kristi stopped me. She noticed that instead of instant pudding, I had bought the "cook" pudding. I was crestfallen. Despondent. Frustrated. Hopeless. Pitiable. Angry.

Since I'd purchased three boxes of pudding, I scrapped the original batch and cooked up a new one. Kids cut up the bananas and we layered them with Nilla wafers and pudding. Even though this is the easiest recipe in the world - so easy even snakes can make it (and they don't have arms!) - mine turned out terrible. The pudding never set properly and was runny. I left bananas exposed at the top, so they browned. Frankly, I'm surprised toxic fumes didn't come rising out of the dish and wipe out my family.

The day was done. We ate the runny pudding. We brushed our teeth and went to bed. Next time I make dessert, I'll stick to what I know - chocolate chip cookies. In fact, this might be a great time to bake up a batch for all of my wonderful friends - even those who don't keep vanilla pudding on hand. Because I am a COMPLETE loser in the kitchen, but I sure have good neighbors and friends.
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