This week’s contributor is…me! I’m excited to be writing for my own blog again, and there are three main reasons that you’re reading about my Shabbat this week: 1) we celebrated Aliza’s birthday on Shabbat, 2) I had a post published at the Jew and the Carrot about the blog and felt like I’d been neglecting it, and 3) no one else signed up. In conclusion, 1) you’re definitely going to want to keep reading to see the cute pictures below, 2) if you heard about this from the Forward, welcome, and 3) sign up to blog for a week!
A year ago, I was blogging from a hospital room while a teeny 5 pound baby wormed her way into my heart. In a year, that teeny thing has more than tripled her weight, cut a mess of painful teeth, taken her first steps, said her first word, and been described by every stranger in Philadelphia as “the happiest baby in the world.” Not bad for a year.
To celebrate this momentous occasion, I thought someone should throw me a party. Instead, I threw two parties and then basked in the amazingness of what Marc and I have accomplished (namely, not seriously injuring ourselves or Aliza despite profound sleep deprivation).
Since Minyan Tikvah has been so important for our family, we really wanted to celebrate Aliza’s birthday there with lunch for the community. That first word of hers? Banana. Aliza’s first word was banana, and the first time she said it, it was obviously about the banana I was about to feed her. Since then, “nana” has referred to bananas, yes, but also to peas, cream cheese, bottles, pacifiers, Cheerios, standing up, and boredom among other things we haven’t figured out yet. So the banana-themed lunch we had planned expanded to “foods Aliza likes to eat.” As I said at the time, “You’re lucky she has good taste.”
We served bagels with cream cheese, hummus, and white fish. (Correction to the having good taste quip: I HATE white fish, but Aliza presumably learned to like it from Marc, and the theme was about her, not me.) I made a spinach cheesy eggy casserole and a black bean avocado salad. There were “make your own parfaits” with different kinds of yogurt, bananas and strawberries, and Cheerios. And there was a cake. (Ok, actually, two cakes, but that’s another story.)
Digression: The summer after I graduated from college, I drove cross-country and then spent a couple weeks staying in California in a place I’ve since dubbed “the hippie house.” I really didn’t have anything to do there other than read Howard Zinn’s A People’s History of the United States and help harvest potatoes, so one day I wandered into the kitchen, found some rotten bananas and a vegan cookbook, and got to work. Since none of the residents seemed to be really sure about who actually lived there, they hardly seemed to notice a random east-coaster baking in their kitchen.
When I got back to real life, the best thing I’d taken home with me was this recipe, and there was something really lovely for me about making this recipe that I learned at such a particular point in my life for my daughter’s birthday. Couldn’t’ve predicted that one ten years ago.
From The Compassionate Cook, by PETA and Ingrid Newkirk
(I already said I learned this at the hippie house, so you shouldn’t be surprised it’s from a PETA cookbook. You can laugh, but you shouldn’t be surprised. I’ve revised the recipe to use real dairy, so my version isn’t vegan, but it is eggless.)
1/3 cup butter
1/2 cup sugar
2 cups flour (I used some whole wheat, but not too much, since I didn’t want Aliza to be “that kid” with the healthy birthday cake. I mean, her cake was actually banana bread, and she wasn’t all that interested in it anyway, but it’s the principle of the thing.)
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
2 ripe bananas, mashed
1/2 cup milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 chopped walnuts (I have never even once made this recipe with nuts, but when it’s not for babies, I usually add chocolate chips.)
Preheat the oven to 350. Cream the butter and sugar, then add flour, baking powder, and baking soda. Add the remaining ingredients and mix well. Pour into a greased loaf pan and bake for 50 minutes, or into any other shaped pan, and keep checking it, or muffin tins and bake for 20 minutes. I highly recommend smothering in cream cheese frosting and calling it cake. I recommend against using Cheerios as decoration, though, because they get really, really soggy.
I promised cute pictures, plural, and I’m pretty sure there’s nothing cuter than this.