I love my birthday. It always arrives right on time, all dolled up, just begging to be taken out and celebrated. This year someone asked me if I was sad to be a year older… time passing all too quickly and all that.
So, I reflected on past birthdays along with the years they marked and came up with this…
18: blurry eyed given the excess of shots that accompanied that special day and really, if I am honest, that entire special year. Good gosh, no way would I return to that mess of double jacks and tiny tank tops.
19 & 20: cooking and serving in a tiny smokey bistro, saving my pay cheques for a 4 month European adventure. A good good call to tumble head first into a broader world, but I like to sleep in hotels now, not ‘Yo-Ho Hello’ hostels, however endearing they may have been at the time.
21: swept away by beauty and spontaneity and positive I had met ‘the one,’ excepting of course that we failed to share aspirations and did not really get on that well. So, while exhilarating at that time, I have no lingering desires to move back into that stained-carpet apartment.
22: in love with so many aspects of University – words and what they could create and the knowledge they could impart, but not in love with The Philosophy of Symbolic Logic, that class alone ensures I never – ever want to revisit 22.
23: bartering through a night market, purchasing a T-shirt advertising Abercrombie & Bitch (love the Taiwan knock off) when I realized it was my day. And while I loved peeling through the busy chaos on my scooter then, I am happy to walk in the quiet calm here now.
24: just home from a rollercoaster ride through Thailand and Laos, I still had my tan, but was back in my parent’s basement wishing for the freedom my backpack afforded me while on the road, river, ocean… Love my parents, but not in any hurry to curl back into the basement.
25: a nothing year, I mean, I am sure it had it’s moments, but I just cannot remember them. Although, I did listen to a lot of Powderfinger, not sure what that means…
26: a beautiful gift of a year: Rosita, an eight year old street kid in Nicaragua taught me to truly share and to actually participate. Since then I have learned so much more about what sharing with the poor means for my life and am blessed to have to begun there, but to have ended up here.
27 & 28: growing up and learning to love my bank working self, my apartment that kept me from flitting about the globe, appreciating my friends for just how wonderful they are, and as I am still on this path I do not miss those days but feel like I am still swept up in them.
29: met my Ben, the first gift he gave me – a purse for my birthday from my beloved Nokomis… staying up all night talking and drinking wine with no ill effects on the following day, only to do it all over again. It was a riot, but I now relish in the day to day happiness we have come up with, past the “falling” part of love.
30: two weeks from my wedding day, which ended up being a party that is best described as the most fun this girl can have with pink ballet shoes on. Loved that party, but am happy to be here: married 3 years and loving this party.
31: so very sad as we had just lost our dear Andrew and while I was blessed to feel all the support I had surrounding me, those were should-have-been-bright-days smudged so completely dark.
32: celebrated my first birthday as an unemployed adult – housewife life here I come…. it’s all white wine, bon bons, feathered high heel slippers and soap operas from here on out… or not at all, more like volunteering, baking, dog walking boots and care giving from here on in.
In conclusion, I am grateful for all of the experiences and blunders and triumphs that landed me here. And now, I am quite happy to be me at 33.
And so, to celebrate my 33 years, a few friends and I devoured the night away at my friend, Carla’s beautiful restaurant, Mrkt, which can be best described as a delicious urban picnic. She is so sweet, she let me bring my own cake to finish the night off….
Mocha Chocolate Cake with Coffee Buttercream and Ganache
2 oz dark chocolate
1/2 cup (1 stick butter) – room temperature
1 cup sugar 1/2 cup cocoa
2 eggs – room temperature
1 3/4 cups flour
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
good pinch of salt
in a 1/2 cup measure, pour one shot of espresso fill up the rest of the half cup with water
1/2 cup milk
Make the cake: Preheat the oven to 325F. Prepare two 8″ round pans: butter and flour the sides. Cut a piece of parchment to fit in the bottom and also butter and flour the paper, set aside. Over a water bath, melt the chocolate and set aside. In a mixer, cream together the butter and sugar until fluffy. Add the cocoa and mix until combined. Continue beating and add the eggs, one at a time. Scrape the sides whenever needed. Add the slightly cooled chocolate, ensure it is not too hot or it will melt the butter. In a separate bowl combine the flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt. Combine the milk, espresso and water and heat until hot (about 40 seconds in the microwave). Mix the flour into the chocolate mixture until almost combined on low-speed. Continue mixing and add the water/milk to the bowl. Scrape the bowl and continue to mix on low-speed until relatively smooth. Divide the batter into the two cake pans and bake for 30-40 minutes, until a tester comes out clean. Set aside to cool in the pans.
Adapted from The Art of French Baking
27 Tbsp butter – room temperature
2 1/3 cups confectioners sugar – sifted
5 egg yolks
3 Tbsp plus 1 tsp cooled fresh espresso
To make the buttercream: Beat the butter with the paddle attachment in a mixer until very soft. Beat in the confectioners sugar, then the egg yolks one at a time to make a very smooth creamy mixture. Beat in the espresso to taste – I used way more than the original recipe’s required 2 tsp…
3/4 cup heavy cream
6 oz dark chocolate, finely chopped
1 Tbsp light corn syrup
To make ganache: Place chocolate in a medium bowl. In a heavy sauce pan bring the cream and syrup to a boil. Pour over chocolate, allow to sit for a minute and use a whisk to slowly stir together. Once combined and smooth, use immediately.
To assemble: Place one of the cakes upside down on a wire rack. Cover with a generous layer of buttercream then sandwich with second cake. Cover the entire cake with the remaining buttercream. Place in the fridge to set for half an hour. Place the cake (on the wire rack) on a cookie sheet to catch the ganache the drips off. Prepare ganache and pour smoothly over the entire cake using a palette knife to smooth the sides.