Cinderella Princess Cake

I put a lot of effort into blog posts on music and travel.  Still, the post on the Minnie Mouse cake continues to be the most visited post on this blog.  I could be upset but instead I’m happy to ride the coattails of my wife’s baking ability on the way to more site visits.

Since cakes are such a hit here, this is today’s creation.  We’re celebrating Little NH2’s birthday a little early, so we could all enjoy the Sunday afternoon together.  It’s about 10 degrees Farenheit outside and the warm oven in the house is welcome.

My wife tells me that this cake design was used by her mother for her birthday, with a full-sized Barbie and full-sized bunt cake.  This particular cake was done using a mini bunt pan and smaller Cinderella figure.  (I’ve gotten to be a pro at anything Disney Princess lately.)

Mrs. NH and Little NH have been decorating cupcakes as well.  I’m definitely going to benefit from all of this for dessert.  And lest I forget, Happy First Birthday Little NH2!

Rock and Roll Birthday Navel Gazing

I turned 38 yesterday.  For the fun of it, I decided to take a look at the progress of my life in relation to 3 of my top musicians of all time: Sting, Bono and Lou Reed.  So I asked myself, “Where were these guys at my age?”  Yes, they were all huge rock stars but I thought it might be interesting to see what albums they were working on at the time to see if their subject matter correlated with my mood.

As it turns out, they’re no too far off.

Sting – Sting appears to have been 38 back in 1990.  During that time he would have been composing “The Soul Cages” album.  The work is introspective, focused on his childhood and parents and almost allegorical in nature.  It’s a deeply personal work that was one of his least commercially successful albums but remains one of my favorites to this day.

Bono – The lead singer of U2 and his cohorts were about to make the heralded “return to form” on “All That You Can’t Leave Behind”.  The album is a soaring mature work after the gritty, hip shaking albums before.  Again, as a songwriter, Bono seems focused on family and in wonder of the world.  Much of the cynicism contained in the albums that preceded it is gone.

Lou Reed – Uncle Lou was beginning to see his way out of years of drug and alcohol abuse.  He was in the midst of composing “Growing Up In Public” – an album whose title says it all.  He was reflecting on his life and figuring out how to pull himself together to continue on with the rest of it.

All in all, these guys were in pretty good periods, though, some would say had already peaked in their careers.  That’s probably a matter of taste for many but the fact remains that these guys all put out some great work in the years following their 38th.  So there is hope for me as I near the big 4-0.

Navel gazers all of them, but I can always look at it this way – Jim Morrison was already dead.

Minnie Mouse Cake

Mrs. NH had been talking about making this cake for Little NH’s birthday for the last several weeks. She was pretty much obsessed with the idea. There were pictures of Minnie Mouse cakes all over my PC desktop, scattered about like newspaper clippings collected by a madman. She had me print out full-page templates of Minnie’s mug and then proceeded to stab holes through them with a crochet needle. After the holes were stabbed, she’d sprinkle powdered sugar or cocoa through them to form the perfect outline. She practiced outlining on paper with cocoa and then piped frosting onto the paper.  She persevered as the weeks rolled on despite my gentle ribbing.

I guess I knew she could do it. She’s done impossible projects like this in the past and they always seem to work out. Once she sinks her teeth into something, she’s like rabid terrier – she won’t let go. Still, the results were well beyond my wildest imagination. It was perfect. The colors were right; the shapes were right – every last thing worked. Not to mention, it tasted really, really good.

The folks at the birthday party were awed, Little NH was really happy she had a Minnie cake, and I was, well, just a little bit humbled. After nearly 13 years of marriage, it’s fun to know that the Mrs. can still surprise me with the things she can do. It’s even more fun that she can surprise herself.

Cream Peach Pie

Cream Peach Pie
Cream Peach Pie

It was my birthday recently and getting older is an occasion to look forward to instead of dread all because of my dear wife.  Years ago, around the tender age of 24, she somehow mastered the art of my Grandma’s Cream Peach Pie.  (Just writing those words is enough to make me salivate.)  It’s a simple recipe that is full of flavor and says “summertime” like no other dish.  It became my de facto birthday “cake” several years ago after it beat out the previous champ, Anglefood Cake with Green Powdered Sugar Frosting.  (You know, because I’m not 12 anymore.)  Mrs. NH nails the cream peach pie every time with a just-slightly-liquid, gooey, cream and peach filling.

Yes, with this pie, Mrs. NH goes all out.  Even the crust is from scratch and boy, can you taste it.  I don’t have the recipe but I’m told it’s simple.  Deceptively so.  Peaches, cream and sugar.  It’s a throwback to my childhood and even though I’m getting older, eating it makes me feel like a kid again.