This is a tale about celebrating gratitude and narrow escapes. Last week we had a little girl-time at my cottage. My friends Lynnie and Paula came for a visit. Monday and Tuesday were stinking hot and sunny. We all found our happy place, me on the hammock under a shady tree and they on the dock in the sun. With occasional dips in the lake to cool off we managed to pass two days without doing much of anything, just reading, talking and laughing.
I had checked the weather network before they came and saw rain in the forecast for Wednesday, so I suggested they bring their passports and we take a road trip to Syracuse. The last time I was in Syracuse was over 8 years ago when my daughter, her friend and I shopped at the Carousel Mall. Well times have changed and the Carousel Mall is no more. It has been renovated, expanded and rebranded as “Destiny USA.” Apparently it is now the 6th largest mall in the USA! Wikipedia tracks data this type of data, (of course they do!)
There is something about a road trip with your girlfriends that just makes you giddy and excited. I sort of envisioned us as Thelma and Louise (plus 1), but just a few years older and needing a few more bathroom stops along the way. We woke up early and were on the road by 8:00 am. With a stop in Watertown for fuel for both the car and us (caffeine!), we made it to Destiny USA by 11:15 a.m.
At over 2.4 million square feet, this is a behemoth of a mall. We covered it from one end to the other, leaving no stones unturned, no shoes untried, and no dressing rooms curtains unpulled. Our best bargains were found at Saks Fifth Avenue Off 5th (outlet store), where everything was 40% off the already reduced prices and we were able to get an additional 10% off by becoming a “Friend of Saks.” Which basically means that Saks e-mails me everyday now! The BCBG Max Azria store was another favourite where everything on sale was an additional 50% off! I mean it was plain stupid not to buy. And so buy we did.
At Loft we all bought the same dress, which we have dubbed our “be-bop” dress, after a woman in the change room told us that the dress she was trying on was just perfect for “be-boping” around. We assumed that meant going to the grocery store and running errands, but maybe she meant something else!
Lord and Taylor had an amazing shoe department and we all found something on sale! We had lunch at Panera Bread and finally stopped at 7:00 pm for a great Mexican Dinner at Cantina Laredo. After a stop at the border to fill the coffers of the Canadian Government, we made it back to the cottage by 10:15, tired but happy.
When we got out of the car, it looked like a tree had thrown up all it’s bark over the entire driveway and lawn. Upon further investigation, we discovered that lightning had struck a huge oak tree, just beside the cottage. When we went inside we discovered that the phone lines were out, the internet was down, the satellite for the T.V. was not functioning, the fridge was not cooling, the fans were not turning and my computer would not turn on. Perhaps Thor, the God of Thunder, was sending me a message: “You’re at the cottage, unplug for goodness sake!”
I have since learned that lightning (an electrical current) passes from the trunk of the tree through the roots and dissipates in the ground. In the ground, buried right next to the tree were wires for all our communication services! Slowly the cleanup and repairs began and finally this week things are getting back to normal. Sadly we will have to have tree taken down. I think it is over 150 years old.
Despite the damage and minor inconveniences, we were really very lucky. The tree could have fallen on the cottage, the lightening could have started a fire and we could have been here during all of that destruction, so I am quite grateful that we were spared any catastrophe.
So to celebrate our good fortune, I decided to bake a Banana Coconut Cake. I had seen this cake in the LCBO magazine “Food and Drink”, and was enamoured with it’s petite size. They said it would serve 2, but it could easily serve 4.
The cake is mixed up and spread into an 8 inch square cake pan. The batter just barely covers the bottom of the cake pan and you may have some doubts at this point. Just proceed, it will all work out.Make the icing while the cake is cooling. In addition to butter and icing sugar, coconut milk gets added to this buttercream. You just skim the thick part off the top of the can, and leave the liquid behind. A third of the frosting gets some toasted coconut folded into it and the remaining icing gets tinted. I made mine green, in honour of our beloved oak tree.
The cake gets cut into 4 equal squares and then the toasted coconut icing is sandwiched between the layers. I made a little cardboard square, wrapped in foil to set the layers on so that it would be easy to move it to a cake plate later.I used a star tip and just piped straight lines to cover the cake.A sweet little cake to celebrate your good fortune. Moist banana cake, layered with toasted coconut buttercream and covered with a luscious coconut milk frosting. All is right with the world. Sadly the candle kept blowing out because we are on tornado watch today!