Disassociation Dessert

Wait until the older kids are at school and the youngest is taking a nap with the bedroom door closed. Then make your chocolate sauce in secret. In the blender, add one half cup of sugar, one half cup of powdered milk, four tablespoons of cocoa, and four tablespoons and one teaspoon of hot water. Blend on high for thirty seconds. Scrape down the sides. Give it ninety seconds more at high speed.

The author’s industrious mother in her kitchen

The author’s industrious mother in her kitchen

Grab a spoon from the drawer and eat the whole batch of chocolate sauce sitting at the kitchen table. Don’t bother with a bowl, there are enough dishes to wash and laundry to fold. You should probably clean the bathroom too, but it can wait.

Each taste of the rich smooth chocolate melts it all away: your husband’s yelling, your kids’ demands, the complete lack of intellectual stimulation of being a housewife with four kids. You wanted this. You sigh and savor another bite.

Sometimes you mix this up on steamy summer nights to dollop over ice cream for the whole family, dessert for a dinner of popcorn when it is just too hot to cook.

Years later, when your younger daughter asks you for the recipe, stall her, make excuses, refuse to write it down. Finally relent and tell her what to write on the recipe card.

She will prepare it once for her children. Then she’ll file it away and never make it again.

- Margaret Shafer writes on two acres surrounded by cornfields in the Midwest. You can read her stories about life, her travels and general thoughts about the world at unfoldingfromthefog.wordpress.com.

My Mother Knew How to Eat a Cupcake

My mother was an organized woman. Gabby wrote lists of what she was going to do every day with her special Papermate pen no one else was to use. If it went missing, she yelled out across the house, “Who took my pen?”

            She placed her furniture just so, at specific angles. Her living room was arranged with comfort and organization in mind. When you stood from the couch, you were to plump the down pillows your body had sunk into. No indentions allowed. When she left the room, my three siblings and I liked to test her. We might move a chair a quarter of an inch. She’d return, sigh and push the chair back to its proper position.

            The only mess Gabby tolerated was anything to do with chocolate, and the gooier, the better. She disdained candies, but inhaled chocolate mousse, chocolate sin, soft chocolate chip cookies, brownies and cake frosting. She had her own method for eating cupcakes, especially Humphrey’s cupcakes we picked up on the way to the beach on the Vineyard. We always hoped there were enough black on whites for all of us. Sometimes we had to make do with chocolate bottoms, horrors.

photo of Gabby provided by the author

photo of Gabby provided by the author

            At the beach, my mother picked first. She swiftly and surgically separated the bottom half (or three quarters) from the top and threw it into the wind for the seagulls to fight over and devour. She then popped the remaining mini version of the same cupcake into her mouth in one bite.

            I rarely eat a whole cupcake anymore. Bottoms are just excuses for frosting.

photo by Asha Rajan

photo by Asha Rajan


- When Morgan Baker isn't figuring out what parts of her are like her mother and what parts aren't, she teaches at Emerson College. Her essays have appeared in Talking Writing, Brain Child, The New York Times Magazine, The Boston Globe, The Martha's Vineyard Times, and others. She lives in Cambridge with her husband and two dogs and is the mother of two grown daughters.