Gardening is not my thing

For the better part of this past year, Bill and I have been preoccupied with things like my pregnancy and preparing for the baby, getting the basement and the nursery done, etc. We didn’t have time for taking care of the lawn or garden. But to be honest, we’ve never put much time time into it. I hate to be that house on the street with the overgrown weed garden but we kind of are. I’ve tried getting the garden together a couple times but I can’t handle the maintenance it requires.

Our neighbors are always helping us out. The husband often cuts our grass for us and the other day I looked outside to see the wife and one of the neighbor kids working on our garden. Now we hired the kid to do some weeding so I knew he’d be out there. But the wife was just helping out to be nice. I felt horribly guilty as they slaved away out there in the heat putting down weed blocking, arranging the rock border, pulling out the ridiculous weed forest, trimming the few actual plants, and even putting down mulch.

I thanked the wife profusely and we planned to give them a bottle of wine as we often do to express our thanks. But I decided I wanted to bake something for them also. Gardening is clearly a domestic task I am not good at, but baking is something I can do! Or so I thought.

I decided to make margarita cupcakes. I made them last summer and they’re fresh and summery and they look pretty too. I used my basic yellow cake recipe and added some lime juice and zest. Then I was going to make a lime and tequila flavored Swiss meringue buttercream icing.

The cupcakes came out fine. I had an issue with the liners peeling off and that was annoying but the cupcakes themselves were delicious. Then I made the icing. Swiss meringue buttercream is always hit or miss. I have about a 50% success rate with it which is annoying since you’d think it would improve over time. But I never know if the egg/sugar is exactly the right temperature or if I’ve correctly identified “stiff peaks” when whipping the eggs. This time I had been whipping the icing after adding the butter for about 30 minutes and it just wasn’t firming up – it was a soupy mess that I had to pour down the drain. I tried again the next day with the same disastrous result. I was very angry and frustrated. Finding the time to bake is so much harder now that I have Caelan. I tried to bake during his nap but I never knew if he was going to wake up or if he was even going to sleep at all. So now I had wasted two big blocks of time and I still had no icing. I have to assume that humidity was what defeated me with the meringue. Maybe it’s just not possible in high humidity? Anyway, then I made a normal buttercream icing which turned out fine – I added some lime juice and tequila. I garnished the cupcakes with lime zest and a lime slice.

The wife said she loved the cupcakes and offered to help drum up business for me if I wanted. If only I had tons more time and a baby who naps reliably – I don’t think there is any such thing!

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