Happy Birthday Redman

Hosted brunch at our house for Redman’s birthday. I figure this is the last year I can get away with not doing some kind of official kids party and to tell the truth, I prefer these home get-togethers anyway. They are certainly easier on the pocketbook, and seem more genuine somehow.

So we had bagels and bacon and fruit salad and a good time was had by all.

It was a nice day, muddy but mild, and we went outside at the end for a few rousing rounds of driveway sledding.

And now a word on the cake. I tried to do a repeat performance of last year’s train cake, made with the Williams Sonoma pan courtesy of Frank. Last year it worked like a dream. This year, Frank warned me that when she’d tried to use it, she had major stickage problems. I went for it anyway and sure enough – disaster. I managed to save the engine and an oil tanker. The rest were shredded by my attempts to get them out of the pan. At least it was Trader Joe’s vanilla cake mix so we all chowed on the pathetic remains and it tasted great. And at least it was the night before the party, not the day of, so I regrouped and went for plan B: fudge cake a la Gundersheimer.

What the hell is that? Well, one of my favorite authors is Laurie Colwin. In addition to superb fiction she has written several books of food essays. In one of the essays she detailed three of her favorite chocolate cake recipes, the third being from a childrens’ book by Karen Gundersheimer called Happy Winter. It’s out of print so I ordered it used from Amazon and gave it to Panda for Christmas. It’s really a sweet book, great for beginner readers, and it has this wonderful chocolate fudge cake recipe in it. Panda and Redman and I threw it together and it came out great. We served it with strawberries and fresh whipped cream and not a crumb was left.

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