My friends from Zumba are throwing me a baby shower this Sunday (awww!), and I'm not gonna lie - I am super stoked. Because everybody assumes that since I already have three boys, and am expecting a fourth, I've already got everything I need. But, y'all? Nothing could be further from the truth. Once your stuff goes through three kids - three destructive, hole-ripping, stainy boys at that - it's pretty much toast. In fact, I haven't needed this much new baby stuff since, well, the first time I had a baby nearly seven years ago. So I'm definitely excited.
I know the concept of a shower is that the mother-to-be is supposed to just sit back and be the guest of honor, but I can't. I've never been comfortable with having much of a fuss made over me. Like at my wedding, when "The Wedding March" started playing and I began my trek down the aisle and everybody stood up, I wasn't thinking of my handsome groom at the altar ... I was thinking, "Oh my gosh, please sit down, it's just me."
Anyway, because I felt I had to do something for my shower, I volunteered to supply the punch. Because, you see, I am directly descended from a master punch-maker. My grandma Sibyl made punch for every wedding reception, shower, birthday party, Bible school, and random festive occasion that took place in our small town. Seriously, the woman kept supplies on hand, because at least once a month she was asked to contribute some of the delicious slushy punch she was famous for. I had it at my wedding shower, my reception, my baby shower, and my children's birthday parties.
So I figured it was only fitting that I just, you know, whip up a quick batch for this shower.
I thought it would be easy. I have the recipe. I can follow a recipe.
But if your grandma is anything like mine was, you know that grandmas tend to just know things, and they don't always write them down because they just assume you'll know them too. Like, for example, whether the "two boxes of Jell-O" the recipe calls for are the little boxes or the big boxes. And, uh, what flavor they're supposed to be.
At times like these, I desperately wish I could call Grandma and be like, "Old woman, what the heck do you mean by 'two boxes of Jell-O?' Be more specific!" But she went to heaven three years ago next month, and I can't phone her up with my silly questions any more.
So I forged ahead with the small boxes. The recipe instructed me to boil them with some water and sugar, so that's what I did. Only, oh noooo ... what was this pink scummy-looking stuff crusting along the edges of the pot? Was that supposed to be there? I whisked it. The scum disappeared. All was safe.
A half-cup of lemon juice, the recipe said. Only I didn't have bottled lemon juice. So I had to squeeze fresh lemons. Dang, it takes a lot of lemons to produce a half-cup of juice. And ouch, I didn't realize I had so many hangnails until I got all this lemon juice in them. And then once I got the juice squeezed, I had to strain out the seeds and most of the pulp and make sure it was - OMFG the pot is boiling over!!!
Boiled-over Jell-O and sugar splashed across the stovetop is not my friend.
But at least the gelatin was dissolved.
I stirred in the hard-earned half-cup of lemon juice, and then consulted the recipe again. Four cups of cold water - I could do that. Two 46-ounce cans of pineapple juice ... got 'em.
But oh, crap. My pot wasn't big enough. I don't have a pot in this house that was big enough.
So I divided the boiled Jell-O mixture in half between two pots, and put a can of pineapple juice in each. Crisis averted. But then? I had to figure out how to get it into the empty juice bottles I planned to freeze it in. So I dipped in a measuring cup and used it to pour the punch mix into the narrow bottle openings, making a HUGE mess in the process. There was more punch on the stove. Punch dripping down the sides of the measuring cup. Punch dripping down the sides of the juice bottle. A big red ring of punch on the recipe card. Several big red rings of punch staining my kitchen counter. I said some words I'm certain my grandma never used while she was making punch. And then?
I realized with dismay that my two little juice bottles weren't going to hold it all. Well, piss.
Grandma, she had some plastic gallon-sized ice cream buckets that she always used to freeze her concentrated punch. I had no such thing. Luckily, all I needed was one extra juice bottle, and I had a nearly-full one in my fridge. I poured the juice into a pitcher, washed the bottle out, and filled it with the remainder of the punch. Success!
Then I realized that I hadn't actually tasted it, and what if I used the wrong proportions of something and it was nasty? So I frantically tipped the pot up to my lips and drained the last drops of it into my mouth. As soon as the sweetness hit my tongue, I was flooded with both relief, and memories of showers and parties and occasions gone by. It was just like Grandma used to make.
Only, you know, more of a mess.
Now as long as the bottles don't explode in the freezer, we'll be good to go. I hope everybody likes punch ...
Incoherently babbled by Rita Templeton on Thursday, April 12, 2012