Today is August 6th, and it is my birthday. It marks the beginning of my 4th decade. It was filled with well-wishing friends and Facebook messages from people I haven’t seen for years. I even got flowers from a friend. It can be argued that a friendship is resting on pretty solid ground when flowers can freely be exchanged. Anyway, there were many things about today that were really fantastic, but it is yesterday evening that will be the focus of this post.
On top of receiving a wonderful pre-birthday birthday cake filled with chocolate cake, ice cream, and love – upon which I will reflect a bit later – I also experimented with something I’ve never tried before … and it was a smashing success!
Yesterday was, of course, Monday. That meant I was hosting the weekly Monday night dinner group with a good friend. As I was thinking of what we could offer our attendees this week, I thought it to be a good idea to fire up the grill and make some cheeseburgers. However, having just recently finished an uber-healthy diet, I didn’t really want something terribly fatty and heavy like greasy, cheesy grilled beef, delicious though it is. What came next was the inspiration for a concoction not yet tried, or even dreamt of in my culinary repertoire. A fusion between grilled summery deliciousness, and lean, relatively healthy poultry; the turkey burger!
The idea was sound. I’d start with ground turkey, add some diced red bell pepper, minced onion and garlic, finely shredded zucchini and yellow squash, and fresh minced chili pepper, and season it with a little lemon-pepper and salt. This would make for a juicy and delicious – not to mention healthy – beef burger substitute.
There was, however, a hick up. After I’d added all these wonderful fiber-filled ingredients to the already goopy ground turkey, the mixture became somewhat … schmoopy. This stuff was just as likely to stick to my hands as it was to stick to itself, which made forming it into patties somewhat difficult. It also had a slightly runny quality to it, so it might likely run through the rack on the grill before it had time to set up over the heat of the flames, rendering it somewhat less than appetizing.
Upon seeing the state of our soon-to-be dinner,
my friend, possessing an unparalleled brilliance, quickly suggested that we form the patties and give them a little more cohesion with a skillet on the stove before moving them to the grill. Like I said… Brilliant! So that’s what we did. In a magnificent display of teamwork, she formed and firmed the patties, and I grilled them up to perfection. Add a little cheese, slap ’em on a wheat bun with some green leaf lettuce and fresh-from-the-garden sliced tomatoes (so good!), and what you’ve got is a juicy, tender, delicious, absolutely mouthwatering turkey burger! It doesn’t happen very often, but I was astounded at how wonderfully these little poultry patties turned out (if you’d like to try these turkey burgers for yourself, you can find the recipe over in the recipes section of the blog). Add a delicious garden salad, and a spectacular fruit salad – both provided by our guests – and these simple turkey burgers turned into a splendid meal.
But of course, as the evening progressed, the splendidness increased all the more as I was informed that there was still dessert to be had in the form of an ice cream cake. Being the sharp individual that I am, I quickly deduced that this must be a birthday cake. My birthday cake. An unexpected, but not unwelcome surprise!
It was delicious. Not too much cake, not too much ice cream, but a perfect balance between the two, with a creamy chocolate sauce spread lightly beneath a thin crispy chocolate shell. All the textures and tastes blended seamlessly to make one of the best ice cream cakes I’d even had.
Reflecting on this and looking back on my 29 previous celebrations, of all the birthday shenanigans and all the parties thrown on my behalf, I think this one was, quite decidedly, the best. It wasn’t top on the list because of an eloquent speech, a grandiose gesture, or even a generous gift. The reason for this one taking the cake, as it were, is simply the fact that it was simple. It was just a cake and a song. That’s it.
I am, by nature, an introvert, and being such, I naturally tend to draw back from being the center of attention. Birthday parties, where the soul purpose of the gathering is to focus all attention on me, have always made me a bit uncomfortable. I’m a listener, an observer. When everyone is listening to and observing me, I feel somehow forced to be someone that I’m not, expected to entertain or become the life of the party. But this birthday celebration, a simple ice cream cake, was perfect.
All of us were there, not to celebrate my birthday, but simply to be together for dinner and some friendly discussion. My becoming a year older was brought up, acknowledged and celebrated, and then we moved on. That’s really all I need, to be acknowledged, to be seen. Anything more is getting into territory that, for me, is reserved for my more intimate and close relationships.
Although the cake and the song may have felt to some like an insufficient tribute to the occasion, rest assured and be encouraged, it was exactly what I wanted. And I am deeply grateful. Thank you.