Happy Birthday to Me!

10 May

My birthday was almost a month ago.   30 days to celebrate turning 30.  Every weekend for the past 4 weeks or so has had a portion of a day dedicated to celebrating with different friends and family, in Cayman and here in Philadelphia.  Dinners, balloons and champagne.  A gloriously massive chocolate cake with chocolate mousse and chocolate ganache, cookies, lemon cake and more.

To cap off the birthday month I made a cake of my own. A cake to celebrate my birthday, a day I share with Joey Lawrence and my dear friend Drea.    Drea and I share a great many things: a birthday, a middle name and a love of Terry Gross to name a few.  Drea loves fruit in her desserts, I love a layer cake.  We both love Mexican dresses – our 2012 birthday cake was born.

Vanilla Cake with Vanilla Mousseline Buttercream and Strawberry Rhubarb Compote.

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Escovitch Dolphin and Breadfruit Salad

4 May

Our arrival in Cayman happily coincided with the beginning of Dolphin (Mahi Mahi).  Our first night home, my father filet a dolphin, cut it into steaks and made escovitch.  I have written about my version for both.  His were better.

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Little Cayman

2 May


My family went to Little Cayman to celebrate my 30th birthday.  We spent most of the time fishing, cleaning, prepping and cooking. Followed by eating and eating and eating and drinking.  A quick snack.  Repeat.  This is what passes for relaxation in my family.  When I pause to consider the backdrop to all these activities, the impossible quiet and solitude of Little Cayman. The tangle of sea grape trees, the carpet of turtle grass, coconuts and conch shells.  Iguanas and solider crabs.  The layer of salt in your hair and on your skin and the shower under the bright blue sky to temporarily remove it.  And the sea.  Everywhere the sea.  When I stop and think of all this, I am overcome with gratitude.  Gratitude to my family who organized and traveled and celebrated.  Gratitude for the soul and salt and beauty of my tiny country.  Gratitude and joy.

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Laney’s Birthday Cake

28 Apr

Melaney’s 3rd Birthday Cake.

Yellow Cake with Vanilla Buttercream

Frosted, stacked and trimmed.

Lots and lots of the birthday girl’s favorite color, pink.

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A Taste of Cayman

26 Apr

I had plans to write in Cayman.  I sat down a few times to describe the things that we did, the places we went, the things we caught and picked and ate.  Then I would look through a window and see my family or pick up the phone and call a friend.   I decided to just wait until the trip was over to write.   It was a good plan.  I enjoyed every minute I was in Cayman.  Now I am back in Philly and I have thousands of pictures of the trip to wade through and multiple posts to write about our time down there.  Until then I will leave you with a little taste of Cayman.

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Saturday morning at the grounds

8 Apr

Every Saturday morning The Market at the grounds opens at 7am.  My father gets there by 6:30.  The light in Cayman at that hour is soft and warm; a hazy other-worldly glow.  It isn’t hot yet.  The grounds are busier than usual.  It is Easter weekend and a church group has pitched tents in the dusty red soil, a long weekend of fellowship and food.  Large groups of children mull around the parking lot and run through the grounds.  The red birch trees seem to be on fire, the early morning sun filtering through their translucent bark.  We buy callaloo, green mangos, tomatoes and a single custard apple.  My father moves quickly through the stalls, shouting out to friends.  I exchange greetings with people I haven’t seen in over a year.  On the way home we stop to get coconuts and start cooking Easter brunch by 8:30 am.

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Isabella’s Harvest

6 Apr

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