happy birthday!

That is the first of the many, many, many times I will be saying that this month. Today is the 4th, and I’m already one birthday and an anniversary in, with six more birthdays to go. Whew

Yesterday was my grandfather‘s birthday. And he asked for lasagna. Apparently the last time I made it, he liked it a lot- he ate two helpings, which is pretty rare for him. Since I had to work yesterday, I enlisted some family back up for the prep. My grandmother made tomato sauce (which in my family, is a 5-hour slow cooking affair, as it should be.) My uncle brought over the tomatoes and ground beef for the sauce in the morning, and we planned on serving a bottle of wine my mother left during her extended stay with my grandparents last month.

I RAN out of my office at 5, and popped into Whole foods for some Parmigano cheese, Blue Ridge Dairy fresh mozz, Vermont smoked mozz (too much fresh mozz makes the lasagna a little too watery for my taste,) along with bread, salad supplies (I love my grandparents, but I will never understand their affinity for iceberg lettuce. Blech), and the ingredients for….RED VELVET CAKE.

Whole Foods, with its we-will-offer-the-ingredients-we-think-you-should-buy-and-not-what-you-need attitude, had neither unsweetened cocoa powder nor red food coloring. Well, they had red food coloring, but it was $5.50. Give me the crappy stuff I used to dye Easter eggs with any day. Also, there was also NO cake flour to be found. Now, I am not a baker by trade, and as such, I am LOATHE to tinker with a cake recipe. But, after calling my mom for some advice, I was satisfied that I could sub pastry flour in for the cake flour. I schlepped everything out my Zipcar and sped off down Florida Avenue, singing along to Amy Winehouse and flirting with guys in traffic.

Sorry, sidetracked…it WAS nice outside yesterday though. At any rate, I got to my grandparent’s, put the lasanga together, and tossed it in the oven while I ran back to the local store for artificial red coloring and cocoa. I pulled my creation out of the oven…
right as my uncle walked in with his very pregnant wife and little girl, carrying a cake.

That’s right. A terrible, artificially flavor enhanced cake, covered in shiny fruit (what IS tht weird glaze they use at Safeway? I could do my hair in the reflection coming off the kiwi. ANd what the hell- Kiwi is not even CLOSE to being in season!) Mind you, I had called my uncle weeks in advance to avoid just such an occasion. Not that he ever returned my call. So, being the good eldest granddaughter that I am, and not wanting to make a big fuss on my grandfather’s birthday, I silently put away my eggs and butter and cocoa and buttermilk and the like, put the STORE-BOUGHT cake out in the garage to stay cool, and began to reset the table for six.

Dinner was a hit. My little cousin described the wolf from “The Three Little Pigs” as ferocious, only with her three-year-old diction, it sounded like “bullshit,” rendering everyone at the table silent for about 5 minutes, while she repeated it over and over until my uncle’s wife realized she said “ferocious.” Okay, maybe you had to be there, but it was pretty funny.

The best part? My grandfather loves Amy Winehouse too, so we got to listen to her while having dinner. His favorite song?

“Rehab,” of course.

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4 responses to “happy birthday!

  1. I love this post! I thank my lucky stars for the wonderful cooks in my family, as cooking is not my forte. Not that I am bad at it, just don’t enjoy like the other members of the family. Missed out that gene distribution…
    The lasagna looks WONDERFUL! If I could take it from the pc and put it on the table tonight, I would!

    And the niece/daughter/granddaughter probably was saying bullshit, you know, like when you sneeze? (heh heh heh) still funny, though!

  2. belmontmedina

    al- It would have been more fun with you there. You ARE my favorite relative/sous chef.

  3. I would have LOVED to have been there. No worries, that cake would have been whipped up while you went to the store. I agree on the odd glaze they put on store bought cakes… it’s certainly not sugar and water, that’s for sure. Uncle Lenny was just being…. well, himself. Could you expect any less?

  4. belmontmedina

    atom: We missed you. Although we both know if you had requested leave to come up, Granddaddy would have been pissed. I’ll make you a red velvet cake for Easter.

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