Not many little girls get the opportunity to make their world ballet premiere and turn five years old in the same weekend. But that happened to my daughter Saturday and Sunday.
Saturday began with ballet-slipper-shaped pancakes (not hard, most of mine usually turn out more oblong than round anyway.)
Then it was off to the local junior high for her debut dancing the song Deep in the Jungle. (She's the tallest one – and once she got going she was a regular ballerina ham! She knew ALL her dance steps and appropriate expressions.)
After the ballet recital, we tried out a new gelato place downtown. My littlest ballerina (the one always imitating her big sister’s dance moves) approved highly of the wild berry gelato.
Saturday afternoon my daughter completed the task of decorating ladybug cupcakes for her Sunday School class. It was most arduous, as you may imagine, having to stop to lick hot pink butter cream frosting off ones fingers every few seconds. Her sister helped by thoroughly cleaning frosting off the electric mixer beaters. To transform the hot pink cupcakes into ladybugs, we used black frosting and piped it onto each cake in a stripe and two dots. A piece of black licorice was the ladybug head. Upon sampling, the tiny cake was divine. We used the Vanilla Cupcake recipe in Whimsical Bakehouse’s Little Cakes cookbook which uses cake flour; this made the cupcakes as light as air and used half the sugar of a cake recipe using all-purpose flour. The lower sugar content made this dietitian a feel a bit better about subjecting preschoolers to cupcakes mid-morning.
And then there was the birthday cake; with the last of the Meyer lemons we brought back from Florida, we made a yellow cake shaped into one 9-inch round, one 8-inch round and a 5-inch round baked in an oven-safe mixing bowl. To top the finished cake, we mixed up some Meyer lemon butter cream. I must pause to comment on the flavor of Meyer lemons – and this frosting. In one word, it was heavenly – but with more descriptors, Meyer lemons taste less bracingly acidic than regular lemons, they are floraly, but still pleasantly tart. The flavor made the frosting seem ultimately richer.
There’s nothing better than watching the pleasure and excitement in a child’s eyes as she watches you frost her birthday cake and ‘magically’ turn it into a bee hive! And it was magic! We stacked up the cakes, filling the layers with The Kings Cupboard Orange Chocolate Sauce. It was topped with the Meyer lemon butter cream and the little marzipan bees we colored and created a few days ago. My daughter was left alone with the black piping frosting and instructions to make stripes on the bees. She emerged with a very black tongue and a good effort at stripes. Her dexterity will improve when she turns six. But for now, the bees on their hive were completely obvious. And what could be better than a cake- and gelato-filled weekend?
While growing up on a ranch in Montana, I learned to appreciate food by watching my parents take it from the field to the plate. I helped my mother garden, preserve vegetables and milk the cow. Loving food led me to a career as a registered dietitian. And now as a mom, I enjoy teaching my children to cook and appreciate how food gets to their plate – here in a Chicago suburb. At the end of the day, it sometimes seems that all I've accomplished is to get dinner on the table. But if my kids helped, a lesson was learned and we most certainly had fun.