In case you can’t tell, it’s the middle of birthday season for the Krieger and Southall families.
It was my mom’s birthday this Sunday, and David and I made the trip to Franklin County to celebrate.
I never thought my family had birthday traditions, but now that I joined another family, I realize that we do. We do dinner, cake and presents. Nothing fancy. But we also always turn off the lights and sing “Happy Birthday”. And we always have some sort of cake. Typically, the cakes are some sort of culinary challenge…like these chocolate cupcakes with whipped marshmallow icing my mom and sister made for my twenty-fifth birthday.
Or the dark chocolate cheesecake for my sister’s birthday.
(Do you like how we wrote “Happy B-Day” in the ganache? Fancy.)
Or the carrot cake for Ellie’s first birthday, with Happy Birthday written in raisins.
(By the way, BAKING is really hard in ASIA.)
The number ONE mustnotbebroken rule, though is: The Birthday Girl (or boy) Must Not Contribute to the Cake in Any Way.
We set this rule after my mom tried to make her own cake a few years in a row and they were…bad. Bad as in, tasted like she switch the sugar with salt and baking soda for broken glass.
So this year I made a “Birthday Bacon Chocolate Cake” using this recipe. (I made it while watching the U.S. Olympic Marathon Trials. Have you ever made a cake while watching elite athletes? It feels like cheating.)
My cake didn’t look quite as good as the photo, but when do they?
My dad’s a retired firefighter, and his expert opinion was that putting a candle for every year of mom’s life would be a, um, fire hazard.
So we decided on a candle heart instead.
Then we sang happy birthday…
…and mom blew out the candles.
What do you think she wished for?
I think it was two pieces of cake.
As soon as the danger of fire was over, we dug in. Southalls are never shy when it comes to food. Especially birthday cake.
(My slices weren’t quite as pretty, either, but boooy they were good.)
I asked everyone to try to guess the secret ingredient. They guessed: rice, coconut, mashed potatoes (mashed potatoes!? Come on, people! Use your palates!) No one guessed bacon.
But I guess that’s how you know it’s a successful secret ingredient.
After cake and gifts, Uncle David held David Andrew…
…while mom and I sneaked synchronized tastes of the cake.
Just look at that identical posture and sleight of hand that hopes no one will notice if we take one more bite.
Next time you see me lick my plate clean or drink the juice at the bottom of the salsa bowl at a restaurant (I’ve been making fun of mom for YEARS for doing that…then I did it myself last week without thinking) just know: I get it honest.
My favorite part of the celebration, besides the bacon, was when we were singing Happy Birthday. When we got to the part where we say, “Happy birthday, dear ____”. The singing slurred into a combination of mom, Vickie and grammy.
I loved it because it was such a perfect articulation of who my mom is; so many different things to different people all at the same time.
And she looks good while doing it, too.
Happy birthday, mom.
(And thanks to Abby for taking photos.)