Blackout Chocolate Cake

Blackout Chocolate Cake.jpg

Things I Learned This, My Birthday Week, Living In The South: 

1. Sometimes when you arrange to buy a bag of weed it comes with a free puppy. And no, I don't have a new puppy. 

2. 39 in 2018 is not the same as 39 in 1992. So stop comparing yourself. 

3. All of life's answers can be found on TV. Namely Netflix's reboot of Queer Eye. 

4. And nobody owes you a birthday cake. If you want one make it your damn self. 

Blackout Cake


French Quarter Beignets


New Orleans seems to be very en vogue this season. Within one month's time roughly 8 people I know will be traveling there to partake in a variety of festivities. From bachelorette parties to drunken hairdresser conventions, The Big Easy will be getting a solid taste of North Carolinians this month.  

I blame Sara. 

Sara moved to Winston Salem just over a year ago. We met the usual way. Through our mutual leasing agent. 

When asked, "where did you move from?", her response is always a resounding "I'm from New Orleans baby!"

Split between the Metairie neighborhood and NOLA you will never meet a more die hard fan of a city. At any given point I would bet money that Sara has beads and/or a Mardi Gras mask in her handbag. Just in case.

She is a walking encyclopedia of information about her home town. She is the dad from My Big Fat Greek Wedding. Able to linguistically trace all words back to New Orleans. 

She can give you a heartfelt and eye opening first hand account of living with hurricanes that leave nothing behind. She will passionately speak of hometown food as if it were a first born child (that is when I knew we could be friends). And if you are ever so lucky to be next to her at a bar, there is the inevitable moment when just enough wine takes her accent to 11 and you have ask her to repeat herself. 

And with that, for Sara's birthday this year I attempted to make the New Orleans classic, beignets. After a few hours of scouring the dark net for a bootleg copy of the Cafe Du Monde recipe I had to settle on what I felt was the next best thing. Paula Deen. I know, I know. I really didn't want to. But it really was a good recipe.

So with my deep fryer revved up and rolling pin greased I got to making my first ever beignets. Super easy. Super tasty. And though I know many cultures have their own version of this wonderful sweet fried dough. I will only credit New Orleans for giving this to the human race.   

French Quarter Beignets


Golden Girls, (Oprah's) Gratitude Moments, and Gettin' Old

Condoms Rose! Condoms! Condoms! Condoms!

This week I celebrated a birthday somewhere in my 30s. I have never been a fan of my birthday. I don't know if it is the extra attention directed at myself when I would much rather be directing it toward others. I don't think it is the impending doom of old age as I distinctly recall not enjoying my birthday as young as six. There is even photo evidence of myself crying at multiple venues over the years. Tears at McDonald's. Tears at Chuck E. Cheese. Tears at the Edgewater West Hotel pool party (and I even had my name on the marquee!). 

For years I kept a paper calendar full of birthdays of everyone I knew. That has long been traded in for Facebook. I get daily reminders of who was born when. There is a series of "HBD" and posted quips. And usually the gentle reminder of how that person came to be a "friend". It's funny to think that for one second you cross the mind of all those people you're friends with. Perhaps even someone you've only met once. 

This year there were no tears. Perhaps I am a little more dead inside. Perhaps I have grown wiser. Perhaps there was not enough wine or orange soda. 

There was however an outpouring of kindness. And I think for the first time in a long time I was able to appreciate the sentiment behind the phrase "happy birthday". This birthday was unique in that I am a year into my new home in The South. I have made a new division of friends. And my expectations of the day were altered due to other unexpected forces. It was going to be just another Thursday. Yet surprises were made. Salutations in abundance. And the sentiment was well received, if not well needed. 

When I arrived home that evening I was in one of those Oprah gratitude moments. Allowing myself to be grateful for the friends I have. And hopeful for any new friends to come. Also at this time I opened a gift from two friends back in Minnesota. A coffee mug with a quote from the classic television show The Golden Girls. Undoubtedly one of the greatest shows about friendship that has ever graced American television. I laughed until I almost cried. 

So perhaps all those years ago the tears at McDonald's or Chuck E.Cheese were overwhelming tears of appreciation. Maybe my 6 year old self wasn't emotionally intelligent enough to process the whole situation. Or maybe someone just stole my damn chicken McNuggets. 

Thank you to all who wished me well, blessed me with gifts, and reminded me why we take that chance and talk to new people.