Sunday, June 15, 2008

The Infamous Pineapple Upside Down Cake

I was watching the Food Network Challenge today and someone was making a pineapple upside down cake for a Luau challenge in Hawaii. My ears perked up as this was my first foray into the world of competitive baking back in 1968. It was my senior year in high school and it was announced that there would be a baking contest for the senior home economic students. I was the first to sign up......see I was a bit of an ass kisser to Miss Takacs... the home ec teacher who I loved... as it was my only chance of ever getting an "A" in my entire academic career. For my senior project I wowed her by making homemade grape jam from Grandma Macaluso's grapes from her backyard vineyard, and then further impressed by making gingham curtains for my sewing project. But this didn't get me the was the cake. The day of the contest I woke up early to bake it fresh. It was a piece of art on a serving platter. I was so excited. Then the news came...........along with my entry there were only 2 others. Jump ahead 40 years and I considered myself "down to the final 3". No surprise to me when I came in first was a surprise that at the end of the year senior awards ceremony I was awarded the "Crisco Most Outstanding Student in Home Economics" award. All for that damn cake. Luckily when I heard I was going to have to give up the recipe to the local newspaper for publication I was never asked how it was made. You see I pulled a Sandra Lee...yes, the Semi-Homemade fake chef. I used Jiffy cake mix, at the time 10 cents a box, and doctored it up by using pineapple juice instead of water. I was a little nervous how I was going to explain that shortcut. In the end I walked away with a lovely trophy for my efforts which I still have to this day. I look at it this long as you come in first place nobody needs to know how many people followed up in the rear. And a big thanks to Miss Takacs for not only inspiring me to grow up and use my skills every single day.....But for giving me an A+ in that class....My only "A" in my entire high school career.......

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