My mother had an exclamation for those times when things went seriously wrong while she was cooking (e.g., using baking powder instead of baking soda or throwing cornstarch into a boiling liquid). “Spit in molasses cakes,” could be heard coming from the kitchen. Everyone in the household knew to wait before asking, “What happened?”

Well, Christmas Day gave me several opportunities to throw up my hands and quote my mom, but thanks to music playing in the background, I resisted doing so most of the time.

I invited some friends over for Christmas dinner and planned to bake a couple of cheesecakes, an applesauce cake and a duck. My first challenge of the day was assembling my new mixer. In spite of the “simple” directions, it took more than 15 minutes to attach the mixer to the stand. But … with music playing in the background, I finally got it attached without losing my temper.

Next, the mixer had to be tilted up in order to insert the beaters. I tried for more than ten minutes before I could make the mixer tilt up.

GRRRR! Now what? Why aren’t the beaters clicking into place like the directions say they will?

*#@%! Let me turn up the music. I pushed the beaters in and out and switched them back and forth until they finally clicked into place. Sigh.

I put the cheesecake ingredients into my regular mixing bowl instead of the new bowl that came with the mixer.

Good grief. The little protuberances on the rim of the bowl hit the arm of the mixer stand and kept the bowl from turning and mixing the ingredients. What next?

I turned on the oven to preheat it, then transferred the cheesecake ingredients to a bowl that would turn. When the batter was sufficiently beaten, I poured it into a pie crust, repeating this process for the second cheesecake.

I opened the oven door to insert the cheesecakes. There was no heat. I looked at the oven dial to make sure I had turned it on. I had; it was set at 350º. I turned the dial to “off”, then turned it to 350º again and waited. Still no heat and no sound of gas escaping. “Oh, spit in molasses cakes,” I yelled over the music. I went to my neighbor next-door and knocked several times.

No response. I then went downstairs and knocked on another neighbor’s door. No response. I could hear music playing, so I knocked again and again.

Finally, my neighbor came to the door, and I told him about my oven. No problem; I could use his. This kind neighbor lives on the first floor while I live on the third. Need I say I got plenty of exercise going up and down the stairs, checking on the cheesecakes. I dreaded the trips I’d have to make when roasting the duck.

After bringing the cooked cheesecakes up to my apartment and before taking the duck down to my neighbor’s, I decided to try lighting my oven again.

It lit.

Thank goodness. I might as well make the applesauce cake. The recipe called for allspice. I removed the lid from the new jar of allspice and was trying to remove the little circular seal when I tugged too hard. The jar flew out of my hand and sprinkled allspice on everything it passed.

“Spit in molasses cakes!”

I picked up the allspice jar and added half a teaspoon to the other ingredients. The batter was really stiff, and as I tried stirring it with a wooden spoon, there was suddenly a loud crack. The handle of the spoon had broken in half. I laughed out loud, too loud to hear whether music was playing or not.

This whole cooking affair was ludicrous. No need to ask, “What next?”