I turned 52 yesterday. One of the things I love about having a birthday mid-October is the weather is practically perfect here in Northern California. Today, for instance, it is in the mid-80’s with a light breeze. The sun is out. All my doors and windows are open and there is a quiet fan humming in an adjacent room.
On Saturday my family will gather in my garden for a birthday celebration. It will be a joint effort. I know, you aren’t supposed to cook on your birthday but what if it’s what you want to do? I am preparing Jim’s jambalaya and bread pudding. He found the recipes many years ago and made them for special occasions.
My mom and Jim’s mom will be here, David’s daughter and her boyfriend, my brother, sister, and their spouses. My good friend Melanie and her husband Van will come too. Melanie loved Jim’s jambalaya and had several opportunities to enjoy it over the years.
Ruby will be here! She turned 2 last month and she left me a happy birthday song on my cell phone. Her singing voice is especially high and sweet. I wish my son Christian could come. He called me yesterday and has promised he will make the 7 hour drive for Thanksgiving in Yosemite.
So many cakes, so little time. I actually prefer pie and bread baking but will make exceptions for cakes done in tube pans and oblong baking dishes. I also have a favorite traditional strawberry shortcake recipe from one of the Palo Alto Junior League cookbooks done from a basic sour cream biscuit recipe to which extra sugar is added. It is unlike the more common pound cake and angel’s food cake combinations used today.
When Jim was a child, his mother, my mother in law Mary Etta would make something called Refrigerator Cake. The name didn’t sound very appealing but the cake is as unbelievably delicious as it was forty years ago.
It is made with the same dark chocolate wafers used in Grasshopper Pie and other recipes requiring a chocolate crust. There are few ingredients, just the wafers, heavy cream, vanilla, and powdered sugar. I have done this cake for Christian’s birthday since he was about six or seven. Since he is a July baby, I always serve it topped with strawberries and blueberries.
My mom used to make this moist, chocolate cake with lots of walnuts and cinnamon. The apples add the moistness and the cinnamon is unbelievable with all the chocolate! I don’t know where the recipe originated but our good friend Cheryl Ratzlaff passed it along to Mom all those years ago.
Cool on a rack. Dust with powdered sugar. Serves 8 to 10 portions.
Let them eat cake…have your cake and eat it too…piece of cake!
Images via http://www.saveur.com/ .