Today is Kermit’s first birthday. For those who don’t know, Kermit is my stoma. It was exactly a year ago today that I went in to hospital to have my panproctocolectomy (removal of the whole of my large bowel and rectum) because of colon cancer, and the formation of a permanent ileostomy.
I cannot believe it is a whole year since it all happened! The whole of last year was an incredible journey from cancer diagnosis on 19th January right through to the cancer all-clear on 30th November. There were times when I thought I would never cope with a stoma but after the initial teething problems that we all have to go through, as my body settled down after surgery and changed shape somewhat, and the stoma continued to shrink, during which time I was getting a lot of leaks and skin irritation, everything suddenly clicked into place and since then I haven’t looked back.
Kermit has become part of my life. He is a little trooper – a very well behaved stoma who gives me no trouble. He enjoys all my favourite foods and I really have made remarkably few changes to my diet since his arrival. Also, he is obliging enough to take a nice long nap in the middle of the day, which means that on bag-changing days, if I time it right, I can have a shower without the bag on, and changing his bag is a doddle because he behaves himself so well and doesn’t wake up while I am doing it!
In fact, even if it were possible for me to have a reversal, I would not go for it because my life is so much easier with the bag than how it was before – although the symptoms of my ulcerative colitis were considerably reduced with medication, the condition was still a major pain to live with, and there’s no way I would return to that. So ultimately the cancer was a good thing because my life is now quite different!At the beginning of this year, I even found myself thanking God that I had had cancer!
I decided to make Kermit a birthday cake. Unfortunately, it being Easter weekend, the other two members of the Allerton Three (us three who met up and became friends on Allerton Ward, all having our bowel cancer operations) are away so we couldn’t have a tea party to celebrate our first anniversary, but we are hoping to get together again after the Easter break.
Kermit’s cake didn’t turn out quite as well as I’d hoped, as you will see.
Here is the chocolate cake ready to go into the oven.
On the left you can see the small metal tin with the red cake in it – this had already been baked.
Here you can see it turned out of the tin. It had quite a few air bubbles and wasn’t as smooth as I’d hoped, so I decided to glaze it.
First of all I needed to trim off the uneven bottom so that it wasn’t quite so tall, and so that it would sit nicely on the cake. This is Kermit’s selfie!!
I warmed some strawberry jam in a small pan.
Once it was runny enough, I strained it into a small dish.
I then poured it over the stoma cake and made sure the whole surface was coated, and left it to cool.
Here are the two chocolate cakes out of the oven.
I was disappointed that they didn’t rise a bit better. I think the problem was that normally, when you make a chocolate cake, you add the flour and cocoa powder together, but in this case, I had to add the flour first so that I could remove a small portion to colour red with cochineal substitute. After I had done this, I folded the cocoa powder into the remaining bulk of cake batter, and I think through all this stirring, I lost quite a bit of the air in the mixture.
I sandwiched the two cakes together with more of the strawberry jam.
I have very little experience in icing cakes, and my only attempts, many years ago, were pretty disastrous. This time I found some excellent Youtube videos and thought I could manage to do a bit better. The best results seem to be from royal icing but I didn’t think I wanted to make a hard icing on this little cake, and wondered whether to use buttercream but thought this would be too soft. In the end I opted for American frosting, using a recipe in one of my recipe books.
I managed to get the consistency fairly OK for the main part of the cake although it was fairly soft. I coloured it pink, using two or three drops of cochineal substitute, and spread it all over the cake, making it as smooth as I could (which wasn’t very smooth!), and put it in the fridge to try and speed up the hardening process..
After this was done, I made a paste with some cocoa powder and hot water, and stirred this into the remaining icing. It was too runny and not dark enough in colour so I added a bit of boiling water and some more cocoa powder and some icing sugar to thicken it up a bit. It seemed to be OK at this stage.
To get the letter spacing correct, I made a paper circle the size of the cake, and the letters onto this. I then laid it on t0p of the cake and pricked through the top left corner of each letter with a skewer to make where to start icing each one.
I found some instructions on Youtube for making a paper cone for piping the icing, and this was fairly successful, but I couldn’t get the icing to come out of the end! I cut the end off to make the hole a bit larger, and then discovered there were some hard lumps in the icing and one had got stuck in the end of the bag. After removing it, the icing flowed out rather too fast and thick, until the next lump blocked the bag again. The consistency was much too runny and the icing spread too much. Also, the icing on the cake itself was still much too soft. The result was that I had to tinker with it, using a skewer, to try and get the letters to be a bit clearer, ad the whole thing is a bit of a mess!
Here is the finished cake, complete with a single candle for Kermit’s first birthday, and if you look closely, there is a chocolate chip in the centre of the stoma, for a bit of realism haha!! When my hubby saw it, he said, “Ohhh… that’s GRIM!!”
Unfortunately my hubby won’t be allowed to have more than the smallest taste as he’s been told to stop eating sugar if he is going to avoid diabetes, so it looks as if Shosh is going to be eating this cake all by herself (with Kermit’s help, of course.) Roll on tea time later today when Kermit and I will sit down together and tuck in to his birthday cake.
Never mind if my hubby’s been totally grossed out by the whole thing, I think it’s fun, and Kermit is delighted to have a cake for his birthday!! I told him he can eat his cake, but only after I have eaten it first!!