Most people and families celebrate birthdays – with the exception of my husband’s family, but I won’t get into that today. In my family, we always celebrated half birthdays, too, and it’s a tradition that lives on today.
For the half birthday, there are certain rules we follow. First, the half birthday child (my husband refuses to acknowledge half birthdays for me and isn’t into it for himself either) gets to choose whatever he or she wants to eat for dinner. Second, there are cupcakes to celebrate. For “real” birthdays, we do full cakes, but half birthdays get cupcakes – also of the birthday child’s choosing. Lastly, the child must blow out candles, including a smaller candle to represent the half year.
This year, Mister Man decided that he wanted to have sausage for dinner. When I suggested he might want something else, he decided to add sausage, too. I kindly suggested maybe something not in the meat family. And he came up with French toast. This is exactly what he had for his real birthday back in October, so apparently creativity in food choices is a skill that develops a bit later in life!
He then had to choose his cupcake. At first he wanted chocolate cherry – not a big surprise since Daddy’s favorite cake is the cherry chip that came from a box that his mom made a couple times for him growing up. I love to bake, and my cakes never come from a box, so I reinvented cherry chip to my own liking a few years ago. Mister Man has chosen that for his birthday cake and cupcakes every year since Daddy introduced him to it. Then he changed his mind and wanted a chocolate cupcake with cherries in it. Ok, I can do that, too. Then he finally settled on just chocolate cupcakes. Okie-dokie!
Me, being the sweet and giving mom that I am, did not try to talk him into a different dinner or cupcake. Ok, I did, but I failed. I don’t think I’m the most picky eater, but for whatever reason, I don’t like French toast, sausage or chocolate cakes (except for my molten chocolate cakes, but those are in a separate category). Since he had made his choice, I simply got to eat a different dinner and skip dessert. Fortunately, even when I don’t like certain foods, I can still cook them well – or so my family tells me.
Once Mister Man was on the bus, Little Miss and I set to work making the cupcakes. Not surprisingly, she wanted to help me make them. It’s actually sort of fun to watch her excitement as she pulls the stool around the island to wherever she thinks she’ll have the best vantage point. She helped me put in all the ingredients, and of course we had to smell most of them. Trying to explain to a two year old why flour doesn’t smell like flowers was probably the most difficult part of the baking process.
As I started to put the cupcakes into their molds, Little Miss watched intently. She saw how I dipped a 1/3 cup measure into the batter and carefully dripped it into the cup. As I was concentrating on this, she – unbeknownst to me – picked up her own cup measure and dipped it into the batter. She, being the girl she is, chose the 1 cup measure. However, she had no interest in filling the cupcake molds. As I looked up, I saw her drinking the batter from the cup.
Me: Stop! Freeze! What are you doing? (giggle, giggle, snicker)
Little Miss: Mommy, I’m eating.
Me: I can see that. Do not put that back into the bowl, do you understand?
Little Miss: Yes, Mommy. This is yummy. Do you want some? (As she holds it out for me)
Me: I’m good thanks. No more dipping though.
I finished filling the cups and placed them in the oven. The fun now begins – the bowl has to be cleaned, as do the beaters. I told her she couldn’t dip anymore, you notice, I didn’t tell her that she couldn’t have any more of the batter. She licked off the spatula and one beater. As I removed the first beater, Little Miss asked if she could save the other beater for Mister Man. Awwww… And yes, he did get the beater when he got off the bus. I had to talk her into not carrying it outside for him, but she finally acquiesced.
I did have a few issues once the cupcakes were finished baking, however. When I bake, I bake for flavor not presentation. Somewhere down the road, my goal is to take classes to learn to decorate cakes, etc but for now I tend to leave the cakes in the pan and frost from there or do minimal decorating (especially after my 4 layer disaster 5 years ago for my husband’s birthday at the ball field). For these cupcakes, I debated what to do.
I finally decided that powdered sugar was the way to go. I’m better off not hiding it and going with the flow – I called them my see-saw cupcakes.
For dinner, my parents joined us, of course. What’s a half birthday celebration without family, after all? For the French toast, I experimented with adding orange zest this time, and fortunately it went over well with all involved. I can’t attest to its flavor, but all the pieces were eaten.
And fortunately, no comments were made on the cupcakes’ appearance, but that may be because everyone’s mouths were full.
My baby is 4 ½. *sigh*