Thursday, September 11, 2008

"Eat Drink and Be ..."

... Mary. So, I changed the line up a bit. Usually, one would say, "merry," but in honor of my mom today, I decided to use her name instead.

On a day filled with sorrow for many (my heart goes out to anyone who lost a loved one), I have found a reason to be merry. You see, today is my mom's birthday, and if she had not been born on this day, I wouldn't be here either; not to mention the fact that I would've been lost without one of my best friends.

Yes, I'm still talking about my mom, who has been there for me from the start and still is during this time off my feet. She has come to visit me more than anyone else, and although I should be the one showering her with gifts, she has not stepped foot in this house empty handed in these past two weeks.

She has stopped by with a good selection of books to keep me occupied (she also is great company to have around), fresh produce from a local farm stand, supplemented with more organic (she knows me so well) fruits and veggies from the nearby grocery store, and even a lantern complete with extra batteries in case the power went out - oh yeah, tropical storm Hanna came through our way, too.

Speaking of Hanna, there's a Hannah (which reminds me of myself cooped up in this house) in the latest book I've finished, another one recommended by my mom. The funny thing is that she has yet to read it herself.

"Comfort Food" by Kate Jacobs just had me written all over it, both because it had "food" in the title and because it is centered around a woman who has a show on a cooking channel. Now that's really up my alley. Just check out the first paragraph:

"Gus Simpson adored birthday cake. Chocolate, coconut, lemon, strawberry, vanilla - she had a particular fondness for the classics (sounds like me; I'm always whipping up my take on a traditional family recipe). Even though she experimented with new flavors and frostings, drizzling with syrups and artfully arranging hibicus petals, Gus more often took the retro (yup, me again) route with piped-on flowers or a flash of candy sprinkles across the iced top. Because birthday cake was really about nostalgia, she knew, about reaching in and using the senses to remember one perfect childhood memory."

My mom always made my birthday cakes. I have fond memories of the doll cakes with the fancy iced dresses; Strawberry Shortcake even had strawberry cake inside.

Today, I decided to make my mom a slice of cake out of the ingredients she brought me and infused with my raw personality. Inspired by the "chocolate, coconut, lemon, strawberry, vanilla" line in the book, I decided to make a multi-flavored layer cake out of fresh fruit.

As you can see, the bottom is watermelon, topped with a thin layer of kiwi, a thick slab of pink lady apple (my fave; I wonder if my mom still has my old Pink Lady jacket she let me decorate when I was little), a ribbon of strawberry slices and a mango wedge. The "cake" is iced in a coco-banana pudding (check the bottom of this post for the recipe), sprinkled with coconut flakes (mom's favorite cake is German chocolate, which I rawified one year) and decorated with ripe raspberries. Yum-O (my mom likes Rachael Ray, too; we even braved a snow storm together to see her at a book signing more than an hour away).

During my recovery, I also made her a gift, since she's always appreciated my handmade creations. I strung together a necklace out of beads and black ribbon, which I'll be presenting to her in a small drawstring pouch I sewed together by hand (she taught me how to sew and has made me many Halloween costumes over the years). I even attached a purse cut from the fabric onto some card stock to create a personalized matching note for her. "Happy Birthday Mom!," it says.

In celebration of my mom's birthday, here's a recipe to share. Eat it as a pudding, use it as a fruit dip or ice a "cake" for your special someone. And, as Gus Simpson would say as part of her cooking show, "Eat Drink and Be ... Merry," or in my case, Mary (love you, mom).

Coco-banana Pudding
1 peeled banana
1 soft pitted date
2 Tbsp. cocoa powder
1 Tbsp. coconut butter
a dash of vanilla
a pinch of sea salt

Blend all the ingredients in a high-powered blender until smooth. Chill to set. Makes one serving of pudding, a small bowl of dip or enough icing to frost a small raw cake. The recipe can be doubled to suit your needs.