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Friday, April 29, 2011

Nothin' says lovin' like something from the oven

My son attends a private school, and as part of our "service agreement," parents are required to sign up for certain volunteer activities to help out once in a while. Since the school does not provide a regular lunch, once a month parents get together to make food for the kids. My most recent task over the last several months is to be a "hot lunch" baker and bring in two dozen something or others.

I try to make something relatively easy and fun, and sort of look forward to the challenge. It's an hour here, maybe two, spent baking and then you're done. It's only two dozen; it's not like they're asking one parent to feed the entire school, since I think there are 12 of us who split up the task.

Over the last few months when I'd drop stuff off, I'd notice the same tray each time: 24 completely insane cupcakes, loaded with what looked like a cup of frosting on each one and then some other craptastic piece of candy or whatever on top. It made my teeth hurt just looking at it. Today was no exception, as I saw a tray of them all lined up, ready to go. Not only did they have their usual crap load of frosting, but this time each one held a marshmallow peep perched on top - edible flashiness that screamed, "Look at me!"

It's not like whatever I make is necessarily healthy, as desserts go. This time I made chocolate sandwich cookies (that totally freaking rock, thank you very much) that were pretty easy and fun to do, but not exactly nutritious. Something different, I thought. Another mom, I noticed, brought in homemade chocolate chip cookies and that's totally fine. But who the heck keeps bringing a plate of cavities to school every time? Gross.

Not only that, but they're direct to you from the grocery store down the street. Don't like to bake? No time to carve an hour or two out of your schedule to do it? Then don't sign up, it's that simple. Part of why I like to do this is because I make it myself, a special something that I've whipped up just for them (including those banana muffins I bet no one ate that one time because I'm sure they just weren't exciting enough). Considering the volunteer force that this school counts on to help make the place run, I don't think it's too hard to expect that something actually be homemade, rather than swinging by the store twenty minutes beforehand and spending $100 on junk.

Of course when my son came home from school today, he told me how there were "lots of your cookies left, mom!" and that he (as expected) took a Peep cupcake. I imagine the sugar rush these kids get when they return to their classroom after lunch, and the following crash that will likely ensue. Speaking of my plain Jane banana muffins, I brought those in when hot lunch just happened to be a nice pancake breakfast. I pictured all those pancakes, all that maple syrup, and figured something a little more ... wholesome? might be in order. When I dropped them off, of course another ginormous tray of loaded-up Christmas-themed cupcakes, complete with three-inch deep green frosting, stared me in the face, mocking my mostly-nutritious muffins.

I pictured the scene unfolding much like a kickball reject on the playing field: the first 24 kids come in and scoop up the eye candy first, leaving the "leftovers" (including those muffins) for the rest of the unsuspecting student body. I then envisioned the old fart staff members eating my muffins when no one else would, maybe because it was a good source of fiber.

I don't know who keeps bringing them, but I don't think it's too much of a chore to turn on your oven and break out the whisk. Turn it into time well spent with your child, which is what I have often done in the past (at least when I didn't want to get it done in a hurry). Considering that some of these moms show up for classroom parties with a laptop computer, perhaps they need a few hours to go "off the grid" and maybe crack open a recipe box.