Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Birthday goodness

This year's birth celebration (I celebrate for a week, minimum) started out with a bang. Spork's uncle Joe, expert kayak builder and chess guru, had emailed that he was sending some sunflower cuttings so when I went to the post office and found the Key of Joy in the mail box, I was very excited. When the Key of Joy revealed a 5 pound package, I thought I might need to pick up another jar of rooting hormone on the drive home.

Helianthus debilis, aka beach sunflower

Imagine my surprise when I discovered that the package contained a tiny bag of sunflower cuttings and a really cool piece of wooden inlay, which Spork later told me was called an intarsia.

Cutest birthday intarsia ever

I am so tickled by this! It was a complete surprise to me and I am so touched that he went to that much effort for me. Bonus points all around: 1) it was a surprise 2) it was a surprise that came in the mail 3) it was a birthday surprise that came in the mail and 4) it has a kitty on it! It's the best! I smile every time I look at it. :)

On the culinary front, Spork asked me what kind of cake I wanted and I requested a coconut cake with lemon curd filling. He donned his manly Triumph apron and made the entire thing from scratch, right down to the lemon curd! It was so good that I volunteered him to be the official cake baker from now on. For some reason, he didn't seem to relish that idea.

Spork's coconut cake (with lemon curd filling)

My girl Daisy helped me open my presents. Then moved on to shredding random papers.

After many days of cake (in addition to Spork's cake, Becky provided a super-evil raspberry amaretto cake and my mom made a red velvet cake), I couldn't face the idea of cobbler-ing the enormous quantity of berries that had accumulated in the refrigerator. It was time, I decided, to try my recipe for blackberry cordial, slightly modified to mixed berry cordial (blackberries, raspberries and boysenberries).

Day 1 of the mixed berry cordial

For this recipe, you pour a cup of sugar into the bottom of a large jar. Top that with 4 cups of berries (washed and patted dry), then pour in 4 cups of vodka. Place in a dark cupboard for 8 weeks, shaking once a week. Strain through a sieve, then through a coffee filter. Store in glass bottles.

I've never made this before, so I overlooked the bit about 8 weeks of waiting and shaking. I'm sure it will be worth it, though.


bigjohn756 said...

Forgot? Sure you did.

bigjohn756 said...

Just blend the mix and then filter it. That couldn't be bad at all.

Ragtime Joe said...

I can't believe the lush green plant in the pic sprang forth from the straggly cuttings I sent.
Thanks for the sweet comments on the intarsia. So glad you like it.
And WOW, what a birthday cake! You're doing a great job of training Spork! Ann and Tam can't wait to learn your methods.

Kari said...

Alas, Joe, the cuttings have expired. They looked pretty good for a few days, but have withered away now. Maybe we could try some seeds next time?

I'm afraid I don't have any training advice for Ann or Tam. I think it was the idea of making the lemon curd (or lemon turd, as Spork calls it) that interested him more than the cake itself. Either way, it worked for me!

Stay tuned, John - more berry pictures coming!