I was unaware until recently that our placid community actually harbored a rivalry so intense that it makes the gang warfare between Bloods and Crips seem like a simple misunderstanding.
Reston is evenly and passionately divided between adherents of and . But I am a cheapskate and had been unwilling to purchase pint-sized confections from either location for a birthday party this weekend.
Instead, I opted to make my own. For those of you for whom this seems like a reasonable assessment of the culinary skills that I possess, please allow me to explain the mistake that both you and I have made.
There once was a time when I could follow a recipe and produce an edible result. Then, I married a man who is both a masterful cook and a possessive presence in the kitchen. I don't cook anymore.
In fact, the only reason why I even presumed that I might be able to bake is that my dear husband is deeply disrespectful of dessert. He believes that a sweet tooth is merely the result of not having eaten a sufficient dinner.
I thought that I would surely be able to make cupcakes that may not look as pretty as the ones for sale at our local bake shops but they might taste pretty good.
I also believed that I could make two dozen cupcakes for far less money than it would have cost to buy them. Here is why I was wrong.
I made red velvet cupcakes. Do you know the most expensive ingredient in this type of treat? It is not the vanilla from Madagascar. It is not the Dutch cocoa. It is not the special buttermilk that has flecks of butter in it.
The most expensive part of a red velvet cupcake is the red food color. It cost me an extra 50 cents each to add a crimson color to what is essentially a bittersweet chocolate cupcake.
Furthermore, the free labor I had in the form of enthusiastic children became a distinct liability when the bowl containing the paste of cocoa and food color "slipped" from the grip of the birthday boy and made my kitchen look like a particularly brutal knife fight had taken place.
Have you ever had to clean the blades of a ceiling fan when they are coated with dust, kitchen grease and red velvet paste? Do not be embarrassed to say that you have not had this experience.
Besides, the faintly pink tinge of all the kitchen towels will separate those of us who have from those who live in blissful ignorance.
Furthermore, my beloved soul mate, the father of my children, tasted the batter and asked, "Did you use cake flour or something else?"
This is not a question that indicates that the baker has won over the taster in question. It is the kind of question that makes it into a divorce attorney's brief when making a case for "irreconcilable differences."
However, my kitchen, marriage, charming disposition and sense of humor all survived this brief foray into the land of desserts. The guests very graciously commented on the pleasant homemade quality of my cupcakes and the party was a success.
And next time I will gladly pay the asking price for professionally made cupcakes.