So this past Christmas I’m making that old-timey coconut cake where one pokes holes in a hot sheet cake with a wooden spoon handle and pours coconut and cream over the top.  Nasty good, I tell you.  So I’m doing just that – pouring this coconut cream concoction over my fresh-from the-oven, pyrex-baked sheet cake.  When all of sudden – BAM! – my Pyrex dish explodes.  I’m not kidding.

If you’ve ever wondered what an exploding Pyrex dish is like, it is like this:  glass shards and huge chunks of hot cake blow all over the kitchen…and all over my counters and down into my gas grill stovetop.  In fact, the mess an exploding pyrex dish makes is astounding.  A six-year-old projectile vomiting all over the walls is NOTHING compared to an exploding cake in a Pyrex dish.   Right then, while I’m cursing up a storm (under my breath) and screaming to my children, “For the love of Emeril, get out of the kitchen!” —  my mom calls.

As many of you know, my mom is McGyver. I discuss my mom’s McGyver-ness in my book (don’t ask which book, there’s only one) and the fact that she can fix most anything.  A pulled hem, a broken mullion, a toaster oven with a short in the cord…the list goes on and on. 

“I can’t talk now, Mom. A pyrex dish just exploded all over my kitchen. I’m trying not to impale myself on shards of hot oozing cake.”

“WHAT?  What happened?”

“I was trying to make that coconut cake everyone loves for the family lunch tomorrow.  And the dish exploded!”

“Well, can you save any of it?”

Another thing about my mom — she believes you should try to save everything.  An odd piece of pie, rubber bands, catalogs, stale crackers, and of course, an oozing coconut cake that exploded all over my kitchen.

“Mom, I’m pretty sure that no part of this cake is salvageable, unless you all want to be crunching on tiny shards of glass tomorrow.”

“Well, don’t worry about a thing, I have a coconut cake in my freezer.  I’ll bring it. I’m sure it’s just fine. 

The other thing you should know about my mother is that she thinks her freezer has cyrogenic powers.  Her freezer, unlike others, can freeze things…FOREVER.  If it’s been in her freezer, “it’s just fine.”  For all I know, Ted William’s head is in my mother’s freezer.   And he’s “just fine.”  Freezers have special, redeeming, even healing powers in our family.  Knowing this, I have to ask.

“Mom, how long has the coconut cake been in your freezer?” “Oh honey, it doesn’t matter…it will be just fine.  Besides, it’s from The Greenbriar.”That’s the other thing about my mother. If she paid lots of money for a coconut cake from a quality establishment like The Greenbriar and stashed it in her freezer during the Bush One administration, it will be “just fine.”  If she says it, it will be so. “Mom, when was the last time you were at the Greenbriar?”“Oh, I don’t know, a few years back.  It’s a won-da-fuhl cake!  It will be fine.”

So, yes, my mom was willing to bring a cake that, on my best guess, was more than a THOUSAND DAYS OLD to a holiday function…for us to eat.  Bon Appetit.  Now I will borrow and use expired eggs from neighbor (who is freaked out by my wild ways with an egg).  And if my milk smells fine, then who cares about the expiration date.  But I have got to draw the line on a frozen coconut cake from the Greenbriar.  I don’t care how good it once was, it’s not good now, I can tell you that much

So tell me friends, tell me your dirty, little secret about an expired and/or frozen-past-its-prime food story – I know you have one.