Kate’s birthday

What a good day we had yesterday! Kate has been sick for the past week, but we were so glad to see that she was feeling a lot better for her first birthday yesterday. We started the day by singing Happy Birthday to her a few times, and then we gave her the first present of the day, a doll I’d found at the grocery store. (I had been amazed that the toy stores here had very tacky, poorly made toys and that some of the ones at the grocery store were better made and less expensive!) She enjoyed playing with the doll, and then she took her morning nap while Bryan and I tried to get the oven to work.

The saga of the birthday cupcakes had begun the night before when I went to the store to buy ingredients. I hadn’t ever seen baking powder in the store, although I already had baking soda at home, and so I ended up buying cornstarch to mix with the baking soda to take the place of baking powder. I also couldn’t find any vanilla extract, so I bought a packet of vanilla flavored powder. I got some flour and more sugar since we had used most of our sugar for tea. I was very excited to find what I thought was a can of evaporated milk, and I bought some butter.

When I got home and began working on the cupcakes, I discovered that the “evaporated milk” was actually sweetened condensed milk, and the butter was margerine. (So goes shopping in a country where you don’t read or understand the language!) The flour was full of worms and moths, and so I couldn’t make the cake until the next morning after going back to the store for more flour. I decided to at least make the icing that night, and I learned that you can make evaporated milk very easily by simply boiling milk on the stove for a while. The rest of the icing went together beautifully, and we began the cake on the birthday morning after Kate went down for her nap.

This was the first time I had attempted to use our oven. We only have one pot in the apartment, and it can’t be put in the oven since it has plastic handles. One of my friends here loaned me her cupcake pans, and so I made the cake batter and buttered and floured the pans as Bryan lit the oven. The first thing we discovered was that there were no temperature controls on the oven, and the second was that there was no oven thermometer inside the oven. Next, once the oven had been on for a few minutes, we felt it and decided it must have been at least 450-500 degrees, or in other words NOT the right temperature for cupcakes. We turned the flame down as low as it could go. As Bryan said, the oven has two settings: huge flame or tiny flame. Bryan Googled something like “judging oven temperature with hand,” and I believe he did a fabulous job helping me decide that “tiny flame” was the right setting. I put the cupcakes in to bake, and we went to work again on the icing. The traditional birthday cake that Mama made when we were growing up has delicious chocolate frosting. The frosting is made on the stove, is cooled, and then is whipped with a blender until it is the right consistency and a lighter color. Of course I wasn’t thinking of this when I decided that this would be Kate’s cake for her first birthday since we have no blender. After leaving the icing in the refrigerator all night, it was about as hard as fudge and only a tiny bit easier to stir. My arms tired out very quickly, and so Bryan did the bulk of the stirring in my makeshift mixing bowl, a rectangular plastic ice cream container. His arms got pretty tired, too, but I don’t think he minded so much since he got to sample the chocolate as he stirred and enjoy the leftovers on the fork when he was finished. I took the cupcakes out of the oven, and they were delicious! We ate a few while they were still hot without any icing, and since Kate was up from her nap by this time, she ate a little bit, too.

We had a normal lunch and a quiet afternoon together playing, and we started supper early since we had many skype calls planned with family. Kate ate a good supper and then REALLY enjoyed her cupcake. Actually, I should say that she really enjoyed the icing since she probably only ate a bite or two of the cake itself! We had a great time watching her, taking video, and taking pictures. After dessert, I hosed her down in the bathtub, and we talked to family on skype so everyone could say happy birthday. It was a fun birthday, and Bryan and I enjoyed celebrating and remembering the day Kate was born. Happy birthday, sweet Kate!

Published in: on August 16, 2009 at 7:40 am  Leave a Comment  

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