Top Ten Reasons I Don’t Mind Turning 60

Top Ten Reasons I Don’t Mind Turning 60

What's to love about turning 60? In my opinion, a whole lot of things.Tomorrow’s my 60th birthday, and I’m looking forward to it. Really I am, and for these 10 good reasons.

10. Ordering off the 55+ menu at IHOP will be easier. Five years ago, doing so made me feel like an imposter. Now I feel like I’ve earned it.

9.  The AARP has lowered their annual membership price to $12 in honor of my birthday. Thoughtful as the gesture is, I’m not taking them up on it.

8.  Tomorrow morning, I will be grateful for the ability to walk 6 miles pain free…even at my age.

7.  German Chocolate Birthday Cake! Need I say more?

6.  When people inquire about my age, and I tell them, with suitable self-effacement that I am 60, they will have all the more reason to respond, “You certainly don’t look your age.” (And this would be your cue to type something similar in the comment box.)

5.  Being 60 makes the fact that my mystery novel, set in the decade when I was in my 20s, is considered historical fiction a little easier to swallow. Mainly because I can wash it down with birthday cake. (See #7)

4.  On my official birthday, all those early Facebook birthday wishes will no longer feel like being pushed into old age.

3.  Once I’m 60, the Man of Steel, who hit the same milestone waaaay back in March, will no longer feel as though he robbed the cradle.

2.  The day will remind me of Mom’s 60th in 1988. Our son was 6, and our daughter was a newborn when the sibs and I hosted a gigantic surprise birthday shindig at her church in Le Mars. She was clueless, and the many friends and family members who gathered to honor her, was a glorious tribute.

1.  I’ll be celebrating my birthday with my family. What could be better?

I’d love to hear bout your 60th birthday memories in the comment box. If you don’t have any, see #6.

What’s Cooking in January?

What’s Cooking in January?

kitchen stove

What’s been cooking in our kitchen this January? Mostly old winter favorites and not many new recipes because of some nose-to-the-grindstone writing deadlines that leave little time to test new recipes. In lieu of something new, today’s post points to the five recipes Gravel Road readers visited the most in the last 30 days. Here goes:

5. Downton Abbey Dairy-Free Scones

Dowton Abbey Scones

4. Fabulous Franklin Chex Mix

Franklin Chex Mix

3.  Best Non-Dairy Egg Bake Ever

Fake sour cream egg bake

2.  Dairy-Free Spinach Dip

spinach dip

1. German Chocolate Cake: Dairy Free Version

German Chocolate Cake Dairy-free

So, what’s cooking at your house this month? Leave a comment and a link to the recipe!

The Family Birthday Cake – Recycled

The Family Birthday Cake – Recycled

This past weekend, we hosted the Labor Day Family Reunion at our house. Because Mom’s birthday is September 3, we always celebrate her big day with the traditional family birthday cake, German Chocolate. In honor of that event (and because today I’m busy with the annual poking, prodding, and boob squishing also known as a yearly physical and mammogram), today’s recycled post features the birthday cake recipe. This is, by the way, the recipe, originally posted in September of 2008, was the first recipe entry on this blog.

BTW, we also celebrated my cousin’s son’s birthday over the weekend with the yummiest carrot cake ever. Stay tuned for it’s posting in a week or two!

German Chocolate Cake

Whew, I meant to get to this entry last Friday, but the day got away from me as I packed and baked for our annual Labor Day Reunion. The reunion participants include my mom, her kids and their families, along with Mom’s sister and her husband, their kids and their families – usually somewhere between twenty and thirty people each year. The two older generations visit, play games and eat while the younger generation films their annual version of S.O. Weird Cousins TV. More on that production in another post.

We celebrate Mom’s birthday during the weekend as she was born on September 3, which was Labor Day the year she made her appearance. The birthday cake is always homemade German chocolate cake, which is only made at our house when requested by the birthday boy or girl. It makes a moist, rich, dense cake able to feed the masses when covered with coconut-pecan frosting.
The cake recipe is inside each box of Baker’s German sweet chocolate, along with one for the frosting. But years ago, Mom copied an easier, just as tasty recipe from a magazine.  I’ve never seen it anywhere else, so here it is – in honor of Mom’s 80th birthday this coming Wednesday.

Easy Coconut-Pecan Filling and Frosting

3/4 cup evaporated milk                                    1/2 cup firmly packed brown sugar
1/2 cup granulated sugar                                  1/2 cup butter or margarine
1 teaspoon vanilla                                               3 egg yolks, slightly beaten
1 1/3 cups shredded coconut                            1 cup chopped pecans

Combine milk, sugars, butter and vanilla in a sauce pan. Bring to a full boil, stirring constantly. Remove from heat. (Mixture may appear curdled.) Quickly stir a small amount of hot mixture into the egg yolks; then pour that mixture back into sauce pan. Return to a boil, stirring constantly. Remove from heat. Add coconut and pecans. Cool to spreading consistency, stirring occasionally.

*Cookbooks tell you to frost between the layers and on the top of a German chocolate cake, but not on its sides. Mom always frosted the sides (it’s a little tricky) to keep the cake moist.

The Family Birthday Cake

The Family Birthday Cake

Whew, I meant to get to this entry last Friday, but the day got away from me as I packed and baked for our annual Labor Day Reunion. The reunion participants include my mom, her kids and their families, along with Mom’s sister and her husband, their kids and their families – usually somewhere between twenty and thirty people each year. The two older generations visit, play games and eat while the younger generation films their annual version of S.O. Weird Cousins TV. More on that production in another post.

We celebrate Mom’s birthday during the weekend as she was born on September 3, which was Labor Day the year she made her appearance. The birthday cake is always homemade German chocolate cake, which is only made at our house when requested by the birthday boy or girl. It makes a moist, rich, dense cake able to feed the masses when covered with coconut-pecan frosting.

The cake recipe is inside each box of Baker’s German sweet chocolate, along with one for the frosting. But years ago, Mom copied an easier, just as tasty recipe from a magazine.  I’ve never seen it anywhere else, so here it is – in honor of Mom’s 80th birthday this coming Wednesday.

Easy Coconut-Pecan Filling and Frosting

3/4 cup evaporated milk                                    1/2 cup firmly packed brown sugar
1/2 cup granulated sugar                                  1/2 cup butter or margarine
1 teaspoon vanilla                                               3 egg yolks, slightly beaten
1 1/3 cups shredded coconut                            1 cup chopped pecans

Combine milk, sugars, butter and vanilla in a sauce pan. Bring to a full boil, stirring constantly. Remove from heat. (Mixture may appear curdled.) Quickly stir a small amount of hot mixture into the egg yolks; then pour that mixture back into sauce pan. Return to a boil, stirring constantly. Remove from heat. Add coconut and pecans. Cool to spreading consistency, stirring occasionally.

*Cookbooks tell you to frost between the layers and on the top of a German chocolate cake, but not on its sides. Mom always frosted the sides (it’s a little tricky) to keep the cake moist.