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From left to right: Started the August birthday run with CJ, Suzie’s son — and a Liv it up cake; Evan’s birthday at the beach with wonderful friends, circa 2003; and birthday girl Jackie at 5 — 50 years hasn’t altered her smile

Ah, summer birthdays. They can be magical. Summer pregnancies, not so much, as my co-founder Suzie will tell you after two kids with August birthdays.

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August sunset

My oldest son turned 22 today and except for the year he left for college and freshman orientation, we have celebrated his birthday, since his second, at Lake Michigan.

Twenty two years ago I wrote him an eviction notice. “I feel like the baby is playing pinball and my belly is the game board. One of us has to move out: the apartment is too small for two, and little buddy is the logical choice.” Evan was born the next day.

This is a direct quote. I wrote a 10 page story of his birth. The second son’s birth story was transcribed by his father at the hospital. The third son, well, I wrote that story when he was 14 years old. As they say, children have a way of taking over your life, at least your writing space.

Twenty two years to the day, I feel like I am serving the eviction notice again. I am wrapping presents for Evan’s first real apartment–bath towels and a toilet scrubber (will he use it?), a small frying pan, a pasta pot, dish cloths, and of course, our family’s signature utensil: the wooden spoon.

Holding fast to Evan’s traditions, I am also making an ice cream cake, full of the sort of thing I usually avoid, abundant cream, sugar, fat. I even start with processed food, pound cake á la Sara Lee. Oh the gods must be crazy. The family recipe, originally from my Aunt Francie, follows. It is infinitely adjustable, now that is a little more like me.

For reputation’s sake, let it be known that I am not completely dissolute about summer birthdays, though they do bring out the extravagant in me. A few days before Evan’s birthday, we celebrated the birthday of Jackie, my friend, confidante and coconspirator of 40 years. It was the perfect lake day.

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My brother in-law Rick celebrated 60 with total decadence, a carrot cake from a very special bakery.

I also made Jackie’s cake, no box cake involved. Summer always suggests citrus to me and since my family places key lime pie at the top of their favorites, and since my veteran pie maker sister (another August baby) was not available, I made a key lime cake. It was luscious, but not too decadent. That recipe follows too.

The key to all the baking–or assembling (i.e. ice cream cake)– is the joy that springs forth from the creation of something for someone you love. Box or no box. Scratch or sort of from scratch. It is the magical ingredients that matter.

Happy birthday to all the August babies. PS. Evan, you’ll never be evicted from my heart.

 

EVAN’S ICE CREAM CAKE, serves multitudes

Ingredients:

  • Two Sara Lee frozen pound cakes (or one family size)
  • Two half gallons of birthday boy or girl’s favorite ice cream
  • Hot fudge sauce, homemade or store bought
  • Whipped cream (I can’t in good conscience say Cool Whip, but that is what the recipe calls for. I use the real stuff.)

Preparation:

Line a 9 or 10 inch spring form pan with thin slices of cake, line sides first, press gently but firmly as you line. Then line bottom, overlapping pieces and using up smaller cake pieces, as needed. Spoon in softened ice cream, a flavor at a time. Freeze several hours until firm. Once firm, you can frost the top with softened fudge sauce. Don’t get hung up on the top, its imperfection is part of the charm. Take out of the freezer about 15 minutes before you are ready to serve and remove sides of pan. Frost sides with whipped cream just before serving.

 

 

JACKIE’S KEY LIME CAKE, serves 10

Ingredients:

  • ¾ cup gluten free oat flour
  • ¾ cup white whole wheat flour (or substitute all-purpose gluten free flour)
  • ½ tsp salt
  • ¼ tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1 cup sugar mixed with zest from two limes
  • 2 eggs
  • ½ cup butter
  • 3 T of key lime juice
  • ½ cup buttermilk or plain yogurt

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    Jackie’s key lime loaf cake

Preperation:

Place dry ingredients in bowl and stir. Set aside. Cream butter and sugar, then add eggs, juice, and buttermilk . Fold in dry ingredients and combine thoroughly. Put batter in greased loaf pan. Bake 45 to 50 minutes at 350 degrees until top is browned and center is set. Cool for 10 minutes, then turn out on cake plate.

Stir together 1 to 2 T of key lime juice with 2 T cream cheese with ¾ cup or more of powdered sugar. Adjust sugar to get the thickness you like. I like more of a glaze so I add sugar judiciously. But for birthdays I add more sugar to make a true frosting.