I’m in the midst of planning my birthday party and decided that I wanted to make my own cake. Really, I thought of all of the things I was getting for the party (chips, salsa, vegi/fruit plate, pizza ordered during party, popcorn with cayenne pepper, sugar or cinnamon, sodas) and felt there was a hole in my preparation. I wasn’t making anything. So it came to me I could do one of my very own recipes: Sunshine’s Killer Zebras. They are Sunshine’s because of one of the best books I have ever read (over and over again) Sunshine by Robin McKinley. You may know Ms McKinley from Beauty or Rose Daughter fame, or maybe from her two books (The Hero and the Crown and The Blue Sword) in Damar (though it can be argued all of her books are in Damar. The evidence is there.
However Sunshine is something special. Written in the first person, from the get go Sunshine (the main character’s name/nick-name) is individual, perfectly herself and enviable in her unique world. Anyway, there are tons of places to get good reviews about Sunshine, I’ll skip to the chase: last year after/in the middle of reading Sunshine, I was running Shrove Tuesday pancake supper for my parent’s church. I had a wonderful group of people working with me, many of whom were younger than me and therefore always hungry. Wanting to reward and encourage them as they worked to help make the supper a success (which it was) I make them Sunshine’s Killer Zebras.
That’s sort of the wrong way to expalin it. I had one of those mad creative flashes that leave you surrounded by new drapes at 10:30pm at night, or covered with dirt from the new border you just laid in the garden, or with a new and interesting excel sheet to organize the classes you’ll take for the next four years. Well, this particular mad creative flash left me with this recipe, which is duly written in the blank pages at the end of my hardback copy of Sunshine (ever wonder what those were for? Well, now you know.)
Enough stalling, here’s the recipe:
Sunshine’s Killer Zebras (unendorsed recipe)
1/4 cup butter
2/3 cup Hershey’s coco
3 cup powdered sugar
1/3 cup milk
1 tsp vanilla
1/4 cup butter
3 2/3 cup powdered sugar
1/3 cup milk
1 tsp vanilla
Melt butter in pot. (Add coco). Add in powdered sugar and milk (alternating). Stir until smooth. Do Not Overheat.
Yellow Cake Mix
add 2/3 cup coco powder
heat water for cake mix (amount as on back of box)
add coco to hot water, stir until smooth. Add to other ingredients as instructed by cake mix.
White cake mix
prepare using milk instead of water
Once batter is prepared, pour batter in small amounts into baking pans from measuring pitchers, swirling as pleases. Bake according to instructions on mix box. Let cool to room temperature. Prepare icing,
Ice cake like zebra. I make two two layer cakes this way. They cut really prettily.
“The table was a depressed-looking maiden in a very tight swath of material with no visible means of support, holding the carrying surface at an implausible angle between her neck and one shoulder. Even more implausible was the angle of her breasts, which I don’t think even cosmetic surgery could achieve” Sunshine, by Robin McKinley, hardback, page 245.
“There is a legion of little old ladies (or assorted ages and sexes) who manage to believe that Others are mostly small and cute and harmless, and live under toadstools, and wear harebells as hats. A lot of them ring up their local SOF div to report sightings, because that is the citizenly thing to do, and since there are a few ill-tempered Others who sometimes pretend to be small and cute and harmless—I’d never heard of any of them wearing harebells, however—these have to be checked out. But it is not a popular job.” Sunshine, by Robin McKinley, pg 369, Hardback.
“I had a Sensurround Dolby flash of The Ten Seconds That Didn’t go anywhere, but hit the mental censor button and it went poof.” Sunshine
“Good. I don’t want to spend the rest of my life being careful not to remember” Sunshine, by Robin McKinley, pg 347, Hardback.
“Maybe my medulla oblongata was refusing to take any crap from my cerebrum again. Shut up and get on with the reconstruction. If you can’t find the right piece, use the wrong one.” Sunshine, by Robin McKinley, pg 374, Hardback.
PS: in case you’re wondering where all of these came from, I have a personal quotes files I’ve been maintaining for years and years and these live in that (it has much better citations than most of my posts do). I go through other manic phases of accurately pulling up all of my favorite quotes. My family just puts check-marks by the passages they like. One of my favorite experiences is going through a book my mom or even a stranger has read and marked up: used books have the smell and feel of the people who have used them and those things give them a context and a love not found in other mediums (for an excellent explanation of this, see my quote of Giles from Buffy the Vampire Slayer on the comparitive smelliness of books and computers).