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The Celebration of a Life

June 5, 2013

Listened to the show Saturday and it was not bad. Was workin' on a special request as I listened, a rainbow birthday cake. Our youngest turned sixteen on Saturday and a rainbow cake makes perfect sense. She's has always lamented the notion of "growing up", and she's all about wild animals and peace signs and seeing the world. She's still on a fruit bat kick, and tends to combine the sparkle of rhinestones with camouflage pants. I made a similar cake for her last year, with five layers of solid bright color, and after reading through a number of recipes, I combined them all and made a new recipe for a two layer cake, with three cups of colored batter poured into each. There wasn't enough red food color for the frosting she wanted, so we made do with bright pink butter/cream cheese frosting. What resulted was not as rainbowesque as it was psychedelic. All the better, as far as she was concerned.

Our oldest has a birthday this coming weekend, and has put in an order for a "pink lemonade cake," complete with lemon zest and pink lemonade concentrate. Pink. Works for me. There is a bit of futziness involved with this one, but that's what birthdays are about. Your wish? My command. Our son, whose birthday was three months back, isn't a cake fan. He wanted pie. Homemade, French silk, mile-high pie with whipped topping. Now, Mr. Sundberg is pretty much a no-frills guy. He has an affinity for vanilla cake, or something called "Lazy Dazy Cake" -- a homemade cake in an 8x8 pan with a brown sugar, coconut and butter frosting.

I love birthday cake. Any birthday cake. Ice cream cake, homemade chocolate fudge cake, grocery store cake, bakery cake, gas station cake, leftover cake. Nothin' wrong with a cake you pick up on the way, though it's tough to beat a good homemade layer cake with butter cream frosting. When it comes to a birthday, really anything goes. Fillings are good, layers good, cupcakes or cakes with flowers or confetti or little plastic people or plain cakes -- all good. What I love most is the idea of a whole cake for one person, glowing with lit candles, and a song to go along. The celebration of a life. We're glad you were born, and your life holds purpose and meaning, and we think you're really something, and you get the first piece, after you make a wish. Keep it to yourself, and you just never know.

I've been a fan of rhubarb since I was a kid. It was rhubarb cake first, then a dessert or two, then pie. My rhubarb craving of late is for sauce. The kind my grandmother made and poured on everything and sometimes drank with a straw.

Basic Rhubarb Sauce

2 cups fresh rhubarb, cut into 1-inch pieces
1 cup water
½ cup sugar

Simmer rhubarb, water and sugar in a small saucepan for 15 minutes or until rhubarb softens and sauce thickens. Makes 2 cups. For thicker sauce, use a bit less water. Serve on ice cream, pancakes, just about anything a bit of sweetness.

Try this one for a bit of tangy zest.

Rhubarb Sauce

3 cups rhubarb, fresh (or 16-oz frozen cut rhubarb)
1 ¼ cup sugar
⅓ cup orange juice
2 tsp grated orange peel
1 cinnamon stick

Combine rhubarb, sugar, orange juice, orange peel and cinnamon stick in a large saucepan. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium and cook, uncovered, about 15 minutes, stirring occasionally. Remove cinnamon stick.

Enjoy!

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