Monday, August 10, 2009

When Life Doesn't Give You Actual Lemons

Peabody's definitely feelin' his one-year-old oats lately. He walks around behind his little Fisher Price convertible car/walker like Frankenstein's baby, those precious chubby legs clomping along awkwardly, him stoppin' from time to time to find my eyes, wait for my applause, grin, and wave a fat little hand high up in the air before he takes off again.

He's also finally stopped shoving aside all the finger foods I put on his tray and sittin' there squawking at me with his little mouth agape, waitin' for that spoon-lady to show up and shovel in the oatmeal and applesauce as fast as she can. It's a good thing, too, because I wasn't much relishing the thought of puttin' his first birthday cake through the food processor.


I made a plain old chocolate cake with chocolate buttercreme frosting for the big day. The cake came from an old Brownie Scout recipe, as lore has it, and it's one of the best chocolate cakes I've ever eaten. I topped the whole thing with a ring of Mini-m&ms for just a little pop of color, and I'm truly happy with how it turned out.


Y'all see those lemons back there behind the cake in the picture?

Funny story about those lemons.

I bought those lemons to display on the kitchen table about a month ago. They're lovely little lemons, so bright and fresh and summery. They're also, um, faux, and if you could see them up close and clearly, you'd note that because of the fact that they're all welded together in one big clump, from certain angles the pile looks like its defying gravity, with one or two lemons just sorta hangin' out of the arrangement into mid-air, as if they tumbled off the heap at just the wrong moment.

In historic downtown Pompeii.

So Friday afternoon, Al comes in from work with a bag in his hand, and he's just a beamin'. PROUD, this man is.

Bought us the makings for Lemon Drop martinis on the way home, hon.

(He's got a bottle of lemon flavored vodka, and he's brandishing it like he stomped the dang potatoes and coiled up the copper wire and painstakingly bottled the stuff himself. I love that about men, don't you? I plan and shop and cook forty-leven meals a week around here, and he's strutting around like a rooster because he stopped by the Seb'm-Eleb'm and picked up a bottle of fancy hooch.) (I'm just sayin'.)

YUMMY! I smile back at him.

He unloads the bag, taking out this and that and lining it all up on the kitchen counter, like trophies. Steps back to admire it all, and sidesteps over to the cabinet to pull out the shaker and martini glasses.

Lemon juice? I ask.

Yes please, he answers. I was gonna buy some but then I thought, NO, we don't need any lemons, we have plenty, thanks to my lovely wife!

We don't have any lemons, lovey.

He laughs, and walks over to the kitchen table and smiles back at me. We do have lemons. See?

Oh yeah! I laugh. Grab one of those.

Hee hee hee.


I was a little nervous about baking Peabody's cake this year because I'm still trying to live down the disaster that was Bean's first birthday cake. She'd not yet fully outgrown that common-in-babies allergic reaction to the albumin in egg whites, so I had to make her strawberry Jello cake with all egg yolks, and we were down at the Isle of Palms in South Carolina stayin' in a rental house with a strange (as in unknown as well as bizarrely possessed of certain qualities theretofore only attributed to the SUN) oven.

Well, the unfortunate combination of the egg-yolks-only batter and the series of SOLAR FLARES that oven put out over the course of the recommended baking time resulted in Bean having not a cake per se, so much as a round, pink and sooty-black birthday briquette. We captured the Big Moment on video, too, me proudly carryin' the thing over and placing it on the table in front of our baby, holding my breath in anticipation of her happy, delighted squeals of ecstasy, followed by her staring long and hard at it in unmasked horror and dismay.

Al does not let any mention of any birthday cake ever slip by without a lengthy and detailed recitation of the tragic tale of the Bean's Igneous Strawberry-Flavored Birthday Rock. (We will need to address this in counseling someday.)

Peabody's cake was my culinary Phoenix, risin' up proud and chocolatey from the disappointing ashes of that rosy pink rubble heap.

No horror or dismay there.

I blogged about more puckerable stuff at 5 Minutes for Parenting today.

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  1. That is hysterical!!!! So, did Al go back and get some lemons?? Happy Birthday, Peabody!

  2. Nicely done! And those M & Ms are sprinkled at just the right intervals. You must have found the sprinkle fairy after all! :-)

  3. Not immediately. The Lemon Drops got postponed until Saturday night and they DID turn out to be YUMMY.

  4. Oh, I long for a martini - glass of wine --- sumpin'! I'm big, fat, pregnant and miserable with 22 days to go.

    Good job with the cake --- I almost attempted Maddy's first cake --- notice I said ALMOST. And then I recognized my limitations and bought one. Good for you though!

  5. Love that lemon story. If only you had gotten that on video....and then immediately posted it for us to see. But as always, your descriptions were good enough for me! Glad the birthday boy liked his cake.

  6. Megan, could this boy possibly get any cuter? No, I don't think so either...and with the cake around the mouth...mmmm, almost good enough to eat!

    Loved the lemon story...quick story for got tired of tediously tending his flowers, so one year bought all silks and just stuck them in the ground...he got more compliments on how great his yard looked than ever before. His shining moment was when my sister came over and carried on about a wonderful green plant with white flowers in the big whiskey barrel in the backyard...he told her to go sniff them for they had the most pleasant scent and then proceeded to snap a picture of her backside as soon as she did! Funny family stuff...I of course am completely embarrassed by his lack of gardening these days but thankfully I live a few towns away!!

  7. Tami, that's hilarious! I see people around here with silk flowers stuck in the ground, too. Very creative idea - your Dad sounds like a fun character!

  8. You just made me really want some chocolate cake!! YUM!

  9. I love the lemon story. I can almost see Al's face! Glad you redeemed yourself from the strawberry cake episode!

  10. Love the lemon story and what a beautiful cake (and 1 year old!)

  11. Happy Belated Birthday, Peabody! {I canNOT believe he is a YEAR old!!!!} Beautiful cake, mama...way to rise up from the proverbial ashes. ;)

  12. Oh my goodness yummmy. Both the cake and the cutie :)

  13. You are brave to choose chocolate/chocolate to ooze through those tiny hands and down that itty bitty mouth!!! More importantly though, I am cracking up about the lemons!! I especially love the way you describe him beaming with pride, having accomplished so much. Glad he planned the martinis though...made for fun times at the Gray we cleared up the wedding date dispute. hee. hee. You guys are too cute...and don't you know, parents just aren't allowed to have as much fun as you two do!! Love.

  14. How funny! They do look pretty real though...

    So glad your cake turned out, he looks so happy!!