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Friday, March 18, 2011

Corinna's Birthday Party

I'd forgotten how much fun it is entertaining. Invitations were extended to friends, family, old friends...

One friend inquired of me, what sort of people would be at this party? It would be easier to list the sort of people who weren't invited. I know at least one person on the invitation list is homeless and at least one is a multimillionaire. The vast majority fell somewhere in between those two economic extremes, but other dichotomies were probably as pronounced.

But all were Good People.

Of course, you never know who will show up.

I intended to make two birthday cakes because the possible guests were so numerous, and the idea was I'd make a double-decker as a main cake and then frost two single flat cakes as additional fodder.

I also wondered if I'd over-bought cream cheese for the frosting, a pound and a half of it. As usual, I wished I'd bought a bit more before I had everything covered up. Cake is, besides a great band, just a delivery system for frosting. The recipe for this was 1-1/2 pounds cream cheese, two sticks of butter, enough vanilla to turn the mixture vaguely brown, maybe 1/3 to 1/2 pound of confectioner's sugar and neon pink food coloring. The purple was achieved by adding neon blue to the remainder.

But two of the four cakes stuck to the pan and I ended up with a birthday cake, a proper one with Corinna's name on it and everything, and a fugly cake.

Well, the official cake had a txpo on it: As soon as I drizzled her name on it, I realized I'd doubled the r's instead of the n's and had to make some creative adjustments.

The fugly cake was what I could get out of the pans that stuck, glued together with cream cheese frosting, and drizzled with cake crumbs, chocolate chips, and powdered sugar.

I'd baked the cakes the night before, and in the time it took me to make the chili and frost the cakes it seemed like Corinna managed to do about fifty things, including the veggie and fruit trays, hanging of digital poem collages, and so on.

If I thought things had gone wrong with the fugly cake, I may have committed a worse crime at the crock pot. We'd soaked a couple pounds of black beans and bought a bunch of bistek suave for meat, and Corinna wanted to make a vegetarian/mild batch for those who don't eat meat and/or don't want to eat fire. I had a pound or so of fresh jalapeƱos and only put those in the chili that had meat in it.

After segregating some beans to the vegetarian pot, I dumped the browned meat and sliced jalapeƱos in the one pot and added carrots, broccoli and dried persimmons to the vegetarian pot. But this was post-seasoning as far as garlic, onions, tomato paste, chipotle, cayenne, oregano, etc.

When the first reviews of my mild chili recipe came in, I backtracked and explained the ingredients and amounts. A heaping tablespoon of chipotle powder, a heaping tablespoon of cayenne...

"My cayenne?" Corinna asked. Yeah, because we didn't buy any at the River Market because you already had some.

What I didn't realize was Corinna's 'cayenne' pepper wasn't your regular, everyday cayenne but some exotic African cousin. 'African Bird' was the label, and there are bunches of 'bird' peppers, all of them hot, but apparently this one was a high-octane variety. The chili wasn't unpleasant, but it wasn't mild. A bit of Crema Mexicano helped cut the intensity, but not if, as the birthday girl did, you spike the bowl with a big dose of Mayan recipe habanero sauce on the assumption that your boyfriend meant 'mild' when he said he'd make mild chili.

Oh, and when I bought the two packages of candles to put 37 on the cake, well, one package of candles Bermuda triangulated and we only had 24 to work with. My girlfriend being 36 going on 24 made me a cradle-robber, I guess. I Photoshopped a cake with all 37 candles going, but I was shocked at how hot 24 candles were.

To my delight, Robert the Psychic showed up. He's been a friend since...well, the first time he gave me a reading was at a party I hosted for St. Patrick's Day in 1995 to share my first batch of homebrew.

On the phone, earlier, he'd been talking about being 'board certified' and this KKFI show he has on Sunday morning by way of explaining why he wouldn't be able to stay too late. At the time, I was mangling a birthday cake inscription and wasn't really paying attention. I thought, Since when was there a board that certified psychics?

But of course he meant the FCC, he's certified to run a board at a radio station. And lest I scoff that an early morning psychic radio show couldn't have any listeners, when I referred to him as 'Robert the Psychic' two guests perked up and one said, "I thought I recognized that voice."

So the remaining guests all got readings, me included. Robert told me I would either stick with what was working and end up with comfort money or I'd strike out on something new and end up with the devil and public humiliation.

The great thing about Robert's readings is, he's not without his insights and he definitely has empathy in spades, but he's also an entertainer. When someone asked, 'Where did you get that,' he just said, 'I don't make the cards, lady, I just read 'em.'

Anyway, I think a good time was had by all, and they all seemed to play well together. Pagans and Christians, Department Chairs and homeless guys, lobbyists and anarchists, twelve-steppers and inveterate stoners. I can't wait to do this again.

1 comment:

Liz @ Creative Liberty said...

Sounds like it was great fun. The chili might have sent me into orbit, even after more than a dozen years in the southwest.

I remember Robert the Psychic from that 1995 party! LOL.