With a froth of spent toothpaste lathering the corners of my mouth like a rabid bat, I choke then spit, politely as possible, into the bathroom sink.
Something. Something not belonging to the bead of Sensodyne that I squeezed out onto my toothbrush a minute ago, has somehow materialized in the bubbles.
I rinse and spit again, and hope it isn’t alive. Especially when the whatever-it-is is not gone, and instead suddenly lodges in my throat. And because it feels either like a grasshopper leg or a tiny fishbone, I run downstairs, ga-acking all the way, to lay hands on my grandmother’s remedy for fish bones caught in the throat: A mouthful of bread.
“Did we have fish for supper,” I ask myself as I open the fridge and discover an embarrassment of options. In our house, carbohydrates rule. We’d sooner give up the entire family of dairy than give up gluten. (Thankfully, there are no allergies, either way, between us.)
Now, one might think that the nearest slice or roll would be all one could possibly want in a remedy for an mystery object caught in the throat, but one would be wrong.
I pause, and, as the reflexive gacking persists, I reach past the loaf of sandwich bread (a nice, utilitarian, no fuss choice that gets my vote every time there’s cheese to be grilled), and bag of zwieback (my grandmother’s recipe for butter buns, which have made many a fish bone go down over the years).
I examine, then discard the remainder of a dozen three-week-old, green-spotted hot cross buns, along with the grocery store naan that shares more traits with cushion batting than actual naan.
The so-called naan, for the way it wads up, is probably the ideal choice here. Dense and glommy, it would snag the prickly little unknown entity and drag it on down my digestive tract, no questions asked.
But it’s past midnight. And the last thing I need is a gob of pointless calories before bedtime. If I’m being forced to snack, to sabotage any dietary brownie points I may have gained throughout the day, it may as well be good.
So, rather than tear off a corner of multigrain, I open the cutlery drawer, pull out a spoon, and let it sink through one of the caramelized apple cornmeal cakes sitting on the top shelf.
The recipe, having been poached from a local chef who’s been responsible for some of my favourite caloric downfalls, is moist and has a delicate crumb. Yet, with the cornmeal, it has enough substance that it might, also, do the trick.
After one mouthful, I warm up the rest of the individual portion, enjoy it down to every last morsel, and go back upstairs to rebrush my teeth.
When I’m done this time, I spit out three toothbrush bristles and make a note to call the “Reach” Corporation in the morning.
Caramelized Apple Cornmeal Cakes
(recipe by Brett Thompson, Chef de Partie, Kelowna Yacht Club)
3/4 cup yellow cornmeal
1 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
2 1/4 tsp baking powder
1 cup butter
1 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup granulated sugar
4 large eggs
1 1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract
3/4 cup sour cream
2 large apples, cored, peeled and finely diced
1 1/2 cups brown sugar
1/4 cup water
In a medium bowl, sift together cornmeal, flour and baking powder.
In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream butter and sugar. Add eggs, one at a time, until combined.
Add dry mixture to wet in three batches, alternating with sour cream (dry-sour-dry-sour-dry). Beat only until combined.
In a large skillet over high heat, combine brown sugar and water. Cook, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon, for about 3 minutes after it begins to bubble.
Add diced apples (this will halt caramelization and create a syrup) and stir for one minute. Turn off heat and let sit to cool somewhat. Divide syrup and apples between 14 custard cups or ramekins. Top with batter.
Place cups on a baking sheet and bake at 350F for 30-35 minutes, until a tester inserted into the centre of the cakes comes out clean.
Transfer cups to a cooking rack and cool completely.
To serve, invert a cup over a serving plate (you may need to loosen sides a little with a butter knife).