THE ICING ON THE CAKE

After putting the final touches on a birthday cake I found myself with a few tablespoons left in the container. A dangerous situation to be sure. Suddenly my finger took on a life of its own, swooped inside and brought a lick of icing into my mouth. Disgusting? Absolutely. Delicious? Heck, yes. No sooner had the taste settled, than my conscious aroused itself from its guilty slumber.

?What have you done? Do you know how many calories you just inhaled??

I did not. Lifting the container to eye level, I found the list of nutrients – zilch – topped by the number of calories – 130 for two tablespoons!

?Can you believe it? One lick of the finger cost me the equivalent of a bowl of soup. Or an apple. Or a banana. Or eight cups of lettuce!? I told my friend Brenda as we headed to our TOPS meeting. TOPS being a weight loss group – an acronym for Take Off Pounds Sensibly.

I could tell she was surprised by how big her eyes were getting. In fact, she was so shocked, it took her five minutes just to find her voice. Finally she said, ?I have never met anyone who bought icing before.?

This aroused my suspicion no end. ?I bet you make homemade soup.? I said, eyeing her warily.

?I just made a batch of tortellini soup,? she admitted. Then, thinking to make me feel better, she added, ?But the noodles were too thick. My Aunt would have been horrified. When I was a kid she had this red chequered oilcloth and I had to roll out the pasta dough until it was so thin we could see the checkers through the dough before she would let me cut it.?

I don?t know about Brenda?s Aunt, but I was certainly horrified by this admission. Maybe Brenda had never met anyone who had used store bought icing before, but I had never met anyone who knew how to make their own pasta. I figured this made us about even in the shock department.

She should have stopped right there, while we were equal, but she didn?t.

?Unfortunately I made a batch of bread to go with it. I?m going to have a gain this week for sure. Well, you know how it is after you?ve made homemade bread, right??

?Brenda, you?re talking to a person who buys icing,? I said, annoyed.

It was in this frame of mind that I prepared my famous fettuccini alfredo with prawns.

I laid out the three ingredients on the counter. A box of fettuccini. A bag of cooked frozen prawns. And – my coup de grace – a jar of Classico Alfredo Di Roma pasta sauce. I boiled the noodles, and tested them for al dente by tossing a noodle against the fridge. A little cheffy trick I read in a magazine once. If the noodle sticks, it?s done, but if it slides it needs to be boiled a few minutes longer.

I then ran cold water over the colander of prawns and added them to the drained fettuccine. Then I popped the lid off the pasta sauce, dumped it in, added a little water to the jar, screwed on the lid, gave it a good shake, then added it too.

This last move always makes me feel clever. Almost as clever as the fridge toss thing. Classico sauce isn?t cheap and by adding a little water and shaking it, I am able to get every last bit. As I dumped it in, an unsettling thought occurred. Brenda probably made her own alfredo sauce. From scratch. Well, maybe I could too. Why not? I grabbed a pen and paper and wrote down the ingredients off the jar.

I might have impressed the pasta out of Brenda with my homemade sauce, but unfortunately I couldn?t find all the ingredients. If anyone out there knows where I can locate some enzyme modified egg yolks, xanthagum, natural flavour and lactic acid, please let me know ASAP. But don?t tell Brenda.

Shannon McKinnon is a humour columnist from the Peace River country. Visit her online at www.shannonmckinnon.com