happy birthday….


…dad.  That is, happy birthday dad!

Birthdays are nice.  For some reason people seem to consider the word nice some kind of insult.

But no!!!  This is the kind of nice that I mean.  Just….nice.  That zesty blend of cake when you’re already full from dinner (my mom has this completely true theory that cake tastes better the day after), tea, a bit of candle wax from licking frosting off  the bottoms of the candles, wrapping paper, a pile of mismatched presents, and that aura of birthday-excitement tinting everything.  Today, it’s my dad’s birthday, not mine, but I’m really lazy from eating beef fondue and bread and, um, bread, and more beef fondue goodness, and this amazing sour-cream-n’-dill sauce that my grandma makes (it’s kind of like tsatsiki, which i most certainly spelled wrong, but whatever), so I’m not gonna walk over to the living room and take pix of more recently crumpled wrapping paper and present-stax.  Sincere apologies on behalf of my inner laziness.  Or, um, my inner need to sit and stare at the computer screen for extended periods of time.  I remember once, when I was in maybe third grade, I was obsessed with this virtual-world-type-site (I just googled it and apparently it shut down recently).  It was pretty standard and boringsville: as far as i remember, you create yer own character, make them really pretty n’ stuff, then give them a house and play lots and lots and LOTS of pointless games to try and earn money for them so that they can buy virtual food n’ big houses n’ virtual skinny jeans.  I played it for HOURS.  I don’t know what captivated me about it: maybe it was just the addictive-ness of a virtual world, or maybe it was that I felt really cool going online and doing my own thing.  But after I’d played for two hours or so, a little message popped up on my screen.  It was this character from the site, a football coach guy, and he was doing a thumbs up sign all positive-like, saying “Why don’t ya get off the computer now and play outside?”  Translated to reality-speak, it was saying “Whoa, kid, you’re really really lazy.”

But today, we had family friends over, and one of them was saying how every personality trait has an upside.  Like, being perky can mean you’re sort of annoying sometimes, but it also means that you can get through a lot of stuff.  So I guess being lazy would mean, um….that I get a lot of sleep?  No, I don’t: I just sit and stare at the computer screen and think about getting a lot of sleep.  Hm.  I’ll have to think about this one.

Anyway, my family has this tradition called the Birthday Table (it’s so ceremonious i felt a need to put it in caps).  I think it came from when my dad was a kid.  By the way, I bet other people do the birthday table–oops, the Birthday Table–too.  But it’s one of those things that feels cheesily special in that family-tradition kind of way.  I feel vaguely like I’ve posted about this.  Moving on.

What happens is, the person whose birthday it is goes into their room and just hangs around, I guess, while the rest of us set up all the presents on a table, light the candles on the cake, run to the computer, get onto google images, print out a photo of a t-shirt and later tell the birthday guy/gal that it hasn’t arrived in the mail yet.  Kidding.  Not really.

So once google images has been closed and the table looks really nice and the cake is ready and the presents on the table are stacked such that you get the illusion that there are more than there really are, we call in the person who’s been in their room.  One of us, usually my mom because she’s the organized one, clicks on the video camera and takes a sentimental video of us singing a sufficiently out of key happy birthday song.  Another one of us is holding the cake, smilin’ as the birthday-ee walks down the hallway like the slow-mo reunion in a family-friendly movie.

Eventually we get to the table, and we open presents, and at some point we have cake.

Last night, my dad’s parents came over for dinner (this is another tradition: the birthday-ee gets to choose what we have for dinner), which, as I said before, was beef fondue with sauces and veggies and all that good stuff.  It was actually really delicious, and there’s also something so FUN about fondue.  Y’know, you put your fondue fork with a piece of meat on it into the fondue pot (which has oil in it to cook the meat) and you assemble a bunch of sauces and stuff to have with the meat, and then it’s really satisfying when it’s a little undercooked and you dip it into your favorite sauce and…and….and gradually you develop your signature way of eating that tiny piece of beef: like, my brother did it as a hamburger where he added ketchup and onions and had it on a piece of bread.  Sorry to any vegetarians, by the way.  I’m actually usually not this creepily affectionate towards, well, meat.  I used to be a vegetarian: in fifth grade.  But I started to be like, welll, why don’t I just eat one lil’ piece of steak, and it won’t REALLY matter, but then I started to say welll, why don’t I just eat AS MUCH STEAK AS I WANT but I’ll still be a vegetarian IN MY SOUL, so things didn’t really work out.

But yeah, the birthday.  It was really…nice.  And I mean that as a sincere, completely non-sarcastic compliment to whoever invented birthdays.  Happy birthday, dad!


So, my grandma made this amazing birthday cake for my dad’s birthday.  It was really dense and chocolatey and soooo gooood with a dollop of whipped cream.  She was super-nice and gave me the recipe.  I haven’t posted a recipe in a really, really long time (it was maybe the second post on this blog, whoa).  But this one definitely seems worth posting, in the spirit of food and birthdays and whatnot.

Chocolate Cake

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.

Melt a pound (16 oz) of bitter-sweet chocolate, (like Bakers or whatever), with a stick of unsalted butter.  Stir together until they’re that melty, delicious, addictive (he he) blend of buttery chocolatey goodness.  You don’t have to, but you could add a tablespoon of coffee.  Which I love.  You know, to give it that mocha taste.

Turn off the heat and add four egg yolks, one at a time.  Like, add one egg yolk, stir it in, add another, stir it in….yeah.

Then, take the four egg WHITES, put them in a bowl, and whip them until stiff.  Fold this into the mixture.  The stiff egg whites, that is.  Jeez, I never realized how truly bad I am at writing recipes until right here, right now.

Butter n’ flour a springform pan.  Then, pour the batter into the pan and bake for 15 minutes.

This is what the cake should look like when it’s done.  Kidding.  More photos to come in my next post!



About talesfromtheflatlands

hm. how to start...? i'm a middle schooler caught in the middle of typical dramas and trying to balance work, friends, disorganization, and all that good stuff. yeah. enough said on that front... i live in a somewhat boring neighborhood in a somewhat interesting city chock-full of chain stores and odd buildings. i have a brother, parents, and a cat, and (not to be forgotten) a rag doll. i love tea, hot chocolate (see my blog for my recipe), collages, creative writing, bake sales, dystopian novels, Jane Eyre, Glee, Top Chef All-Stars (vehemently cheering on Antonia...), snickerdoodles, The Beatles, old movies, chatting with books falling out of my arms on the way to class, debates, and education reform. the list goes on... well? what about you? great to meet you, whoever's reading this... have a nice rest of day. -talesfromtheflatlands

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