Tuesday, July 6, 2010

California birthdays and beer cake...

I'm back in L.A. now, but I don't want to forget to post something about the great birthday celebration for my friend up in Davis now almost two weeks ago.  I can't believe that my time up there has already come and gone.  I don't get to see my friends very often given the fact that an ocean and almost an entire continent lie between us.  When we get together, there really should be at least one celebration of some sort to mark the occasion.  Luckily it was my friend's birthday, and we could all celebrate the fact that she is older than I am and always will be.  I love that a universal component to celebrations is good food.  We made a collaborative effort to create a fitting dinner for the day.  That meant my friend was on drinks duty, her husband manned the grill, and I volunteered (perhaps, begged would be a better word) to make a cake.

Here is a picture of my friend making a raspberry-rose gin rickey.  I had no idea what would go into that drink, because I don't think I had ever heard of it before.  It sounds like something my grandparents would know how to make.  The cocktail coupled with the apron she's wearing had us making jokes about 1950s housewives.  In fact, while she was making it, she told me that's her style of cooking: putting herself in charge of the cocktail hour while her husband preps the grill.  I wondered if we could have placed ourselves any more strongly into strictly defined gender roles.  Maybe we're all taking this Mad Men craze a bit too seriously these days.  Honestly, it was all in good fun, and who can resist wearing a cute apron?  I know I couldn't.

I had to wear something to protect my skirt while I dealt with the intersection between beer and baked good.
Honestly, how many shots of butter can this blog take?  I promise, though, this one was completely necessary.  It's the first time I have melted butter for a recipe in beer!  My friend loves chocolate and beer equally, and when I found a cake recipe that incorporated both, there was no way I was not going to try it.  I would show you a picture of the finished product, but we were too busy having a good time, and I completely forgot.  I think that was an indicator of a great party.  You can see how much I and two of my best friends enjoyed the cocktails and also how much my friend's nephew relished the taste of stout and chocolate.

It was a wonderful summer bar-b-que, and there couldn't have been anything more enjoyable (and perhaps also nothing more American) than a summer evening out on the patio with the grill going, side dishes packed with produce from the garden, and a picnic table full of friends and family.  I've kind of missed the easy camaraderie that only seems to happen with close friends.  It felt nice to back in California with my friends for a while, but strangely enough, I'm now starting to miss the Netherlands just a bit.  If only I could find a way to transplant my friends along with a big backyard and a massive grill to Amsterdam.  Then I would be all set.

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