Tuesday, July 27, 2010

She's an Oldie (But a Goodie)

Sorry I’ve been away! Between subbing on a softball team, running the epic Ragnar Relay and floating the Snoqualmie River, my time has been maxed out! It’s also been too sunny and beautiful to be indoors blogging, and I wanted to save MY 100th POST (!!) for something special. The timing just happened to work out perfectly, and something special popped up on the calendar right when I was in need of a good 100th-post topic.

What better way to celebrate my 100th post than by dedicating it to my best friend, big sister, and kitchen comrade for her birthday? And, even more, it isn’t just any birthday…it’s her golden birthday (27 on the 27th)! I was four on my golden birthday, so I sort of missed out on the significance… but I’m sure I had enough cake to make up for it (I probably had too much and got sick after, per the usual). Amanda will be having a lot of cake for her golden birthday, too. Specifically in the form of peanut butter ice cream cake deliciousness made by yours truly (I’ll post more on that later).

Since I left home for college, Amanda always made sure my birthdays were full of cake. From triple layer homemade German chocolate with coconut pecan frosting (an Amber birthday favorite) to an order of the famous coconut crème pie from Dahlia, she’s made sure my birthdays were indeed happy ones. I guess that’s because she knows how much I love cake. And because we both love to impress each other with our kitchen prowess. The best part is that we’re usually so excited to ‘surprise’ each other with birthday cakes, that we share ideas and discuss them in depth before getting to work, ruining the surprise completely. Maybe that’s because our favorite part about cooking is doing it together.

For our latest joint-kitchen endeavor, we got together and made 6 mini chocolate tarts to donate to an auction. We started with Amanda’s all-time favorite go-to recipe for chocolate-honey tart with a hint of lavender, and used the base to make fun new flavors that would impress any food-lovin’ birthday girl (or boy) out there.

In addition to the can’t-fail lavender, we made deliciously rich Chocolate Orange, spicy Mexican Chocolate with a good dose of cinnamon, creamy Hazelnut Latte mixed with flavored coffee creamer and studded with crunchy hazelnuts, herbaceous Salted Rosemary Chocolate that tasted (and looked) like Christmas, and Coconut Caramel, with chocolaty, coconutty goodness inside and out.

Just look at those lovely tarts! We should probably start a bakery or café together someday…I mean, we were made for this kind of thing. From the time we could pull a bar stool up to the kitchen counter, we've been a team in the kitchen. She was always the mastermind with the big schemes and plans and (bossy) orders, and I was the creative side-kick. From the start I whipped up dishes like deli ham rolled with peanut butter and cornflakes…and Amanda always had entertaining in her blood, making fruity flavored toothpicks and orchestrating elaborate games of 'bartender,’ wherein we mixed up favorites like chocolate coke with sprinkles.

Over the years, Amanda and I moved past chocolate cokes to chocolate tarts, and exchanged our Easy Bake Ovens for Kitchen Aid mixers. We’ve been through massive fights requiring apology flowers, and have dropped everything to lend a shoulder and mend each other’s broken hearts. We’ve shared everything from clothes and cake platters to inside jokes and vacations. Since I came along, we’ve gone from enemies (she threw a fit the day I was born, and John took her out for ice cream to calm her down), to sisters, to frenemies (hey, high school is rough), to pals, and now… to best friends.

Happy Birthday, Amanda! And yes, those running pants DO make you look FAST!
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