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Rated: E · Short Story · Contest Entry · #2278802
how to win a cooking contest, for the Writer's Cramp
I sometimes have trouble sleeping. This was one of those nights.

I counted sheep..101, 105, 107, that wasn't working.

I tried focused breathing....in for 3 counts, hold for 6, exhale for 9. I looked at the clock 2:22.

My mind was racing. Tomorrow was the day to bring your entries to the dessert competition at the Collier County Fair. I had come in 2nd last year with my Burnt Basque Cheesecake but had no ideas for this year's contest.

There was a major storm raging outside. Thunder, lightning, and I had heard that because of solar flare activity there might be magnetic storms. Suddenly a streak of lightning and a horrendous clap of thunder rocked the house. The clock radio went out, the bedroom night lights went out and the hum of the fridge died. No ceiling fan, no A/C, yep, a power failure.

I turned on my bedside flashlight and went into the kitchen to light my St. Anthony Bourdain and St. Julia Child candles. As you might have guessed I am a foodie. I read cookbooks like novels, and prefer novels that include recipes. I am a food blogger. This contest was important to me. If I can't enter I thought, I might just as well go jump in the river.

I prayed out loud to any and all of the cooking gods and goddesses to hear me and help me. Even Paula Dean, "Inspiration now! Power now!

I went back to my bedroom and pulled the covers over my head. Suddenly the TV screen started crackling with static and cleared to display an old black and white test pattern that TV stations used before cable when there was no programming. The house was still without electricity.

The test pattern cleared and a cheery voice rang out from the TV, "Well hello there, and welcome to Kay's Kitchen." And there she was, plump, and aproned and in her 1950's Kitchen. It was Kay Neumann host of a cooking show that I watched as a kid in Pittsburgh. Yes, I told you I am a foodie.

"Today, bubbled Kay, "we will be making my famous Pineapple Chiffon Cake." I was riveted to the screen, rapt with attention, memorizing the details of her recipe: cake flour, crushed pineapple, whipping cream, coconut, sugar. And I knew I would add my special secret ingredient from Florida, black mangrove honey. The honey is sweet, slightly salty, like mermaid tears.

Kay's finished cake was perfection, whipped cream icing, a garnish of pineapple slices. "Good-bye," Kay burbled, removing her flowered apron, and the screen went silent. Not even a test pattern.

Just then the lights flickered and I knew that power had been restored. I thanked Rachel Ray, all the Iron Chefs, and vowed to make a novena to Florida, Power, and Light. But first, I had some baking to do.

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