TND – Winning at Birthdays

April 7, 2014


Some people have Birthday Weeks in which they celebrate their birthday on the day of their actual birth + some celebration on a more convenient day of the week like a Friday or Saturday. Some people have Birthday Months in which there are multiple birthday celebrations (friends, family, Dinner . . .) spread out over the course of a month – and sometimes in different cities – to accommodate the vagaries of everyone’s schedule. I appear to have basically won at Birthdays by achieving the Birthday Year.

My birthday is in early December. This is a fairly inconvenient time to have a birthday. It arrives at the end of what I refer to as Dinner’s Birthday Season (four birthdays in three months + Halloween and Thanksgiving), and at the start of the holiday season with its attendant parties and trays of cookies and general debauchery. Nobody wants yet more dessert at that time of year, so other than a birthday present from my parents I don’t really celebrate my birthday in December.

Instead, I manage to spread my birthday celebrations out over the course of two seasons. First I get a Birthday Dinner/Dessert in the doldrums of winter; and then later when the sun is shining and I can wear a flirty floaty sundress I drag everyone out to some kind of edifying cultural experience (or sometimes just mini golf) followed by enormous ice cream sundaes. The latter is because I like summer a whole lot more than I like winter. The former is in the depths of winter I feel like a birthday treat is not only deserved but practically necessary to get us through the final weeks of cold and snow and ice.

Birthday Dessert is the easy part of the equation, mostly because I don’t make it. Rather I send our friend the pastry chef a series of incoherent emails and then wait to see what she interpolates from them.

Last year my email to her on the subject of a Birthday Dessert included the words:

layer cake + contrasting filling & frosting
anything that can be described as moist/gooey/rich (ooey, in this context, is also a good word)
possibly involving chocolate somewhere

And then there was a detailed paragraph about how weird I am about buttercream frosting (which mostly boils down to, I don’t really like it). I got the world’s most insanely decadent fudgy chocolate cake held together with peanut butter cream cheese frosting and thick slabs of chocolate ganache.

This year the series of emails I sent her were so rambling that I’m starting to wonder if I wasn’t a glass of wine (or two) into a Friday evening when I sent them.

Currently I’m thinking a Rolo in layer cake form – which is to say, some kind of moist chocolaty cake, with caramel in the middle, and a rich fudgy frosting. 

To clarify, not a caramel frosting, but like actual gooey caramel (will this make the cake just slide apart?).

Also, not salted caramel.  I find I’m not all that huge a fan of salted caramel. 

Okay, going to bed now.  Will stop emailing you clarifications you probably don’t need, and/or aren’t relevant for like another month plus.

The conversation devolved from there into a discussion about whether I’d noticed a misplaced apostrophe in one of her responses, and how we both now needed to cover our heads in shame – her because she’d typed you’re instead of your, and me because I hadn’t noticed at all.

Deciding what I want to eat for my Birthday Dinner is more complicated, because what we eat for Dinner is basically whatever I’m in the mood for when I make my meal plan for the week. I think I went through about four different menu ideas before deciding that what I really wanted to eat this week was something saucy and cheesy.


Turkey Enchiladas with Pumpkin Sauce
Mexican Fruit Salad w/ Lime & Mint

Rolo Cake


Turkey Enchiladas with Pumpkin Sauce
Okay, I have no idea what happened here – the tortillas kind of disintegrated into the sauce in a way I wasn’t expecting. I’m not sure if it’s because I was using a different brand of tortilla this time that had less structural integrity, if it’s because everything was in the oven a little longer than it strictly needed to be because everyone at Dinner was running late, or if I did something different that I can’t pinpoint. I mean, it was still tasty, just not precisely enchilada-like.

Recipe previously given: Early Solution for Thanksgiving Leftovers


Taking up the mantle of token vegetable with pride (although not with a portrait).

Mexican Fruit Salad
And when I say Mexican there is a silent ISH in all caps at the end of the word – Mexican(ISH)
And by fruit salad in this instance I mean pineapple + watermelon + cucumber + jicama tossed with the zest and juice of a couple of limes.


Rolo Cake
It’s possible I planned my week around this cake, and how I was going to eat an egregious quantity of it. Totally worth it.

cake x 2


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