Sunday, January 30, 2011

Tiger Lady

K was born in the Chinese year of the tiger.  And since the Chinese Zodiac uses a 12 year cycle, the year of the tiger came around again just in time for her twelfth birthday.  Semmed fitting, somehow, to have a Chinese New Year celebration for her.

I've been itching to make a chinese dragon cake ever since I saw a photo of one on the cake idea website I like to peruse for inspiration.  I wish I could take credit for the whole thing.  But sadly, I cannot.  The overall cake layout is mine.  I was particularly proud of the rising arch of the dragon's back, even though it took about 4 bamboo skewers to hold it in place.  The frosting colors are mine.  Notice that I could not manage to get a very real red color.  Dark orange wasn't what I was going for, but it was the best I could get.  Someday, I will figure out how they make frosting an actual red color.  Until then, I should probably avoid making cakes that require red frosting.  I think I used up the remains of my entire container of gel color trying to get the frosting to turn red.  To no avail.

So I just gave in and went with the orange, causing more of a carnival look than I had in mind.  Oh, well.  At least it gives it a happier look.

The idea to use rice krispy treats to form the legs and the tail and the head--that was my idea, too.  But I stole it from the Cake Boss.  I love that show.  Even managed to get my kids hooked on it, as well.  Sweet.  That bakery is a non-negotiable stop if we ever find ourselves passing through Hoboken, New Jersey.  Which I realize may never happen.

Also notice that the rear leg is backwards.  Both Shaggy and K pointed that out to me after it was done.  Thanks a lot.  Where were they when I was forming it?  A fat lot of good their intimate knowledge of the chinese dragon anatomy did me AFTER the fact. 

But the head, the glorious, enormous, gigantic head . . . that was all Shaggy.  He's so good with that stuff.  Artsy stuff.  Creative stuff.  What would I ever do without him?

K made rice krispy treats, he took a gob of it and shaped an upper and a lower jaw.  Then he covered them with fondant and painted them with food coloring.  I think he even impressed himself.  Who knew he could sculpt with such edible mediums?

And I would be remiss if I didn't mention the help K and S were in making the other fondant details--spikes, claws, teeth, horns . . .  It's the details that make a cake.

Details like the fact that the left side of the dragon's mane kept falling off.  There is a reason I took the photo from this angle.

Real chinese dragons are supposed to have the head of a camel, the eyes of a demon, the ears of a cow, the horns of a deer, the belly of a clam, the neck of a snake, the claws of an eagle, the paws of a tiger, and the scales of a carp.

I'm not sure we quite captured it.  But since it's just a cake, after all (GOSH!), we'll count it as good enough.
This was a fabulous theme.  I used to think that when my kids got old (yeah, like 12!), the themes would fade away because they wouldn't be fun anymore.  I was wrong.

Now they're just as fun, maybe more so because we don't have to try to manage a gaggle of little kids and keep them on task. 10 to 12-year-olds can manage that on their own.

Everyone practiced writing their names in Chinese, and using chopsticks.  K happens to LOVE origami, so she taught everyone how to make a crane.
We read a story about the origin of the chinese zodiac.  Then we had all the girls guess K's sign.  After which, we figured out what animal everyone was, and they crowded around to read a book which described the various attributes of the animals and how they interacted with the other animals.  That brought a lot of laughter.  And now we know why K and J don't get along so well.  It's because she's a tiger and he's a monkey, of course.  And all these years, I just thought it was because they were both stubborn and bossy.  And it is a seriously GOOD THING that I, being a tiger, married a dog.  Wonderfully compatible!  I suppose we can stay married for a while.
We played dragon tag, where the dragon's head tries to catch the dragon's tail without breaking the line.  And we swept all the bad luck from the last year out of our house.  On this day, the bad luck took the form of ball pit balls, so they were pretty easy to find and sweep into a box.
The cake was a hit . . . and it even tasted pretty good since it was red velvet with cream cheese frosting.  But once again, K gave me some oh-so-helpful information after the fact.  Apparently, she doesn't really care for cream cheese frosting.  She prefers the butter/crisco variety.  Well, there's always next year.
I love this girl.  And twelve is a pretty big deal.  I'm trying very hard to remember that.  To recognize how grown up she is.  Even though I can still remember her so clearly as a stubborn toddler with wispy blonde hair.  And blue eyes.  But here she is on the cusp of adolescence, transforming into this beautiful, wonderful, capable, witty young woman.  I can't wait to witness the rest of her transformation.

1 comment:

Mom said...

It's hard for me to believe that my first little grandchild is 12 years old already and a beautiful 12 at that. Sounds like a wonderful party theme and your cake, as always, is incredible.