Celebrate 60 what? Minutes? Seconds? Or maybe, just maybe, it’s 60 years. Yesterday we celebrated Mardi Gras with a King Cake, but today we celebrate the King of the Spicer’s – Dad.
One evening last June, I was having a telephone conversation with my dad about my new baking-themed blog. I remembered he once told me that his grandmother made him a special cake every year for his birthday when he was a little boy. So I asked him about it. He didn’t rememember the flavor of the cake itself, but he definitely remembered it was always decorated with white icing and red hots. Dad described the cake as, “it looked like it had chicken pox.” I’ve been itching to make it ever since! (Pun intended.)
Dad has provided my sister and I with a lot of invaluable advice over the years. Some of his gems are:
“If you’re gonna use ‘em, you’re gonna abuse ‘em.”
Interpretation: When you use what you have, it’s going to get a little beat up, but that’s okay. It’s always much better to get in there and use what you have because the intangible experience outweighs the tangible scuffs, dents and scratches. For instance, do you want to roller skate full blast, or do you want to stand on your roller skates because you’re afraid of scuffing them up? Roller Skate!
“If you can’t eat, drive, or wear something, then all you can do is dust it. You don’t need more stuff to dust.”
Interpretation: Hmmm, it’s interesting that two of Dad’s favorite things – tools and guns – do not fall into these categories, but I get the point. Don’t confuse your needs and wants – you don’t need nearly as much stuff as you think you do.
Interpretation: Instead of cash, “rich” in this context refers to blessings of good health, needs that are met, and a happy home. Don’t confuse a rich life with wealthy life.
“Never go straight. Always go forward.”
Interpretation: None. I have no idea what this means.
“Don’t hit your sister!”
Interpretation: Why in the world would you hit the person who is always (always!) going to be the one standing in your corner at the end of day. Never (never!) intentionally hurt the people who give you unconditional support.
“Don’t wish your life away.”
Interpretation: Enjoy your life in the here and now before you look back and wonder where it went.
I love schedules, systems, frameworks, and efficiency. So on a Friday night in May when Dad would say, “Let’s go to Indianapolis tomorrow to watch the time trials,” I would groan “no” in response. “I have cartoons to watch, Dad.” But, as usual, he’d outsmart me by saying, “Come on, I’ll buy you a donut on the way.” And I would say, “when do we leave?”
The real lesson to gain from this is you are never going to remember what you did on any ol’ Saturday, but you will always remember something a little out of the ordinary. I used this lesson as recently as the past month when I agreed, on short notice, to go on a winter winery tour. The hidden lesson is, it’s important to recognize your vices (donuts) so you can’t be easily bribed.
My sister and I have friends who grew up without fathers present in their lives. One of those friends once said if she could pick out her dad, she’d want him to be just like Todd. I suppose a sentiment like that seems better suited to Father’s Day than to Dad’s birthday, but sometimes there is no gift like a compliment.
Oh, there’s one more thing Dad likes to say in regards to food.
“On a scale from 1-10….it’s a 42,000!”
Interpretation: It was delicious! Just like this Red Hot Velvet Cake.
Happy Birthday Dad!
- ½ cup cocoa powder
- 2 tablespoons red food color
- ¼ cup boiling water
- 2½ cups cake flour
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 8 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 1⅔ cups sugar
- 3 eggs
- 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- 1 cup buttermilk
- To make the cake, whisk together the cocoa powder, red food color, and boiling water in a small bowl. Set aside to cool.
- Whisk together the cake flour, salt, and baking soda in a separate bowl and set aside.
- Cream the butter and sugar in a mixing bowl.
- Add the eggs, one at a time, and the vanilla and mix until well combined.
- Slowly alternate adding the buttermilk and the flour mixture and mix until incorporated.
- Pour the batter into two or three (depending on the desired number of layers), greased and floured eight-inch cake pans.
- Bake at 325 degrees for approximately 30 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean.