In my second instalment of Writers Cooking Caker, I’ve asked first-time novelist Grace O’Connell to step away from her quill and ink jar and into the kitchen. Grace is the author of Magnified World, a haunting and magical story about a young woman coming to terms with her mother's death.
Now, let it be known that cakers love their balls. Already on this blog, I’ve featured Rice Krispies Golf Balls, Porcupine Meatballs, Snowballs and Dancing Mothballs – although in these health-conscious days, most cakers are trying to cut back on their mothball intake.
In this recipe, the best of both worlds – sweet and sour – come together as beautifully as a Barbra and Neil duet. Best of all, you can pour this sauce over anything: rice, hot dogs, Cool Whip. I even dabbed a little behind my ears.
Here’s Grace’s recipe in her own words:
The meatballs are made with ground beef, egg, breadcrumbs, parmesan cheese, etc. and baked in the oven. Pretty standard. The sweet and sour sauce though, is pure caker:
1/2 cup ketchup (yep, that's the first ingredient for this exotic wonder)
1/2 cup white vinegar
3/4 cup water
2 tablespoons lemon juice (from a lemon-shaped bottle, preferably)
1 cup white sugar (it's what's for dinner)
Combine the above ingredients in a saucepan and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer 2-3 minutes. Dissolve 3 tablespoons cornstarch in 1/4 cup cold water. Stir that mixture into the sauce. Cook gently and stir until thick and clear (It should be kind of goopy, but also smooth. If that makes sense. Viscous? Is that the word?). [Editor’s note: I don’t understand most words over two syllables.]
Pour it over your meatballs, add some Uncle Ben’s rice and you've got a classic caker dinner.
You certainly do, Grace. And your sweet and sour sauce made my eyes roll back in my head. 'Nuf said. Catch Grace and her Writers Cooking Caker alumna, Dani Couture, at Toronto's Word on the Street Festival this Sunday, September 23.
About Magnified World
What's a girl supposed to do after her mother kills herself by walking into the Don River with her pockets full of unpolished zircon stones? Maggie removes the zircon stones from the inventory of the family's New Age shop and opens up for another day of business. Then her blackouts begin, as do the visits from a mysterious customer who offers help for Maggie's blackouts and her project of investigating her mother's past in the American South. Is Maggie breaking down in the way her mother did, or is her "madness" a distinctive show of grief? Nobody really knows, not her father, her boyfriend or her psychiatrist, and especially not Maggie, who has to make some crazy decisions in order to work to feel sane again. A vivid look at the various confusions that can set in after a trauma and an insightful, gently funny portrait of a woman in her early twenties, especially relatable to readers who grew up in the eighties and nineties, Magnified World dramatizes the battle between the head and the heart and the limitations of both in unlocking something as complicated as loss.