Michael Pollan, one of the most elegant popular science writers around, advises that we eat real food, mostly from plants. No huge surprise there, right?

But then he goes on to tell some surprising things. For example, did you know that in 1973, food processing companies lobbied successfully to remove the law that required them to label fake foods as “imitation”? Or that the causal connection between saturated fat and heart disease is actually only provable as a connection between meat-eating and heart disease, but the meat industry managed to get the claims changed to focus on a nutrient instead of the food they produce?

So far, the book is on economics, marketing, and the power of language to alter our view of reality, all interesting topics to me.

I did eat mostly real food from plants for breakfast and lunch, but then I made a practice cake. It was a disappointment.

It was supposed to be a lovely spice cake with caramel glaze and bourbon-laced whipped cream, not to mention pretty sugar snowflakes. The picture in the cookbook was just so gorgeous you wouldn’t believe it.

I decided that even though I don’t have any bourbon, the Grand Marnier from last year would work for the practice, measured out two tablespoons of it, sprinkled unflavored gelatin onto it, and went on to the other steps.

When I turned back to the gelatin, it was as solid as plastic. I put it in the microwave and warmed it up — and within seconds it boiled over and made sparks. I tried to beat it into cream and sugar as instructed, but it was just like trying to beat cream with rubber bands in it.

I gave up on that. In the course of trying, though, I burnt the edges of the cake. I performed a crust-ectomy and carried on. I frosted the cake with caramel frosting to hide the evidence of the burn and the lack of whipped cream filling.

On to the snowflakes. The snowflakes are supposed to encircle the sides of the cake, with the cream showing through like snow behind them.I had some caramel candy coating on hand, so I made caramel snowflakes, just for the practice. It sounded like simple geometry. It is not that easy. My snowflakes look like some kind of weird fungus. I stopped with three. it seemed senseless to continue. I stuck them into a puff of plain whipped cream.

It’s not the same.

It also didn’t taste particularly delicious. Since it was such an unsuccessful attempt on my part, I hesitate to blame the recipe, but I don’t foresee using it for Thanksgiving. I may learn to make those snowflakes properly, though, and  use the decorating idea. I may try the recipe again, too, with closer attention to accuracy. The cream filling might be essential to the effect of this cake.

I was at church yesterday from 8:00 to 2:00. Nonetheless, I got the grocery shopping done, and laundry, did a quick site fix for Client #3, and completed level one of the Rosetta Stone French course. Today I have two meetings and lots of work to do, but I am going to hit the gym first.

It used to be that I could get up in the morning and do a few hours’ work and then go to the gym. It was a nice break in the day, and I could get back to work refreshed. It has become obvious that this approach no longer works for me, however logical it may seem. I think part of this is because I’m sharing the car with #1 son, and part is probably the class I’m teaching. But they do say that whether people exercise or not is less about motivation than about problem-solving skills. 

So I am changing my schedule. Breakfast, now. Happy Monday to you all!