Today Teen turns 16 years old. Most every parent thinks this annually, if not oh-so-much-more often, but: HOW DID WE GET HERE?
Sixteen years ago our little elf turned our world upside-down. He crawled at 6 months, walked at 10 months, ran by his first birthday, and hasn’t slowed down since.
His life is all-in, full-out adventure. He has no fear. I have had to sit on my hands, close my eyes, and bite my tongue to keep from the perception that I might be squelching his exuberance. Still, he knows. I am timid and he is not and we need each other.
He has taught me more about God’s goodness and creativity in this great big beautiful world than anyone I’ve ever encountered. He has thrust more animals of all shapes and sizes than I could imagine into my hands and into my heart. How could I have known that we’d have three cats, two dogs (well, one and a half, but that’s another story), three leopard geckos, a tortoise, and a snake? (and a…what?) I tell him regularly that he is one of the most amazing people I have ever met, and he knows just how truly I mean it.
So today is his birthday and this all-out kid has been so low-key about this big day: sixteen! He didn’t want a party, although he went to a party over the weekend. We asked if we could take him to dinner last night and he had to think about it. When asked, he said he was excited (although he seemed a little depressed), but he did say he would’ve preferred if his birthday hadn’t been on a Monday.
So we turned Monday into a celebration. We hung the birthday sign, the fun fabric version we found after years of hanging the grocery-store paper version; we hung it haphazardly once or twice when he was little-little – before he could read – and he clung to the tradition: “You’re gonna hang the sign tonight, right?” Which sign? Oh, right…
We made gingerbread pancakes, his traditional birthday breakfast.
We surprised him with four large pizzas during lunch at school – his friends (Bible study boys, fishing, football, and gym friends) had been notified in advance that they’d want to join him. In general he hasn’t been big on surprises, but we figured he’d go for this one. He did, as did his friends and plenty of high school kids we’d never laid eyes on before.
And I spent most of the afternoon cooking his favorite foods: homemade sourdough croutons for Caesar salad, homemade macaroni and cheese, and orchard crumble for dessert. Not to mention the day starting, oh, yesterday, when I made the pancake batter so we could skip that step early before school.
This kid loves to eat! His love language is time, and as he likes to cook almost as much as he likes to eat, I hope he knows that his mama invested a lot of time and love into preparing his favorite traditional birthday foods. Each time he asked what I was up to in the kitchen – last night, after school, this evening – he got that sweet little smirk on his upper lip, not quite a smile but a physical acknowledgment that my activity would result in his enjoyment. And it made me smile Big!
So here are two of Teen’s birthday favorites, both holiday appropriate in different ways. One of the best things about both: pancakes are a sanctioned sweet breakfast, and orchard crumble (minus the whip or ice cream) might be even healthier than pancakes so… breakfast dessert and leftover-dessert for breakfast!
Happy birthday to my wild child, and happy eating to all of us!
1 c + 2 Tbsp flour
1/3 c fine yellow cornmeal
1 tsp baking powder
½ tsp baking soda
1 tsp ginger
½ tsp each nutmeg, cinnamon, and ground cloves
¼ tsp salt
2 large eggs
¾ c sour cream or plain yogurt
¾ c milk
¼ c unsweetened apple sauce (or veggie oil)
1 ½ Tbsp molasses
½ tsp vanilla extract
Serve with: applesauce or maple syrup
Sift flour, cornmeal, baking powder, baking soda, spices, and salt into a large bowl. In a separate bowl, whisk the eggs until frothy, then whisk in sour cream, milk, applesauce, molasses, and vanilla. Make a well in dry ingredients and add liquid, whisking batter just until smooth. Set it aside for 5 minutes.
Ladle 1/3 c batter per pancake onto a hot skillet or griddle and cook for about 2 minutes or until golden. Flip and cook another 1 ½ minutes. Serve immediately.
Makes 6 servings
3 Bartlett pears, peeled, cored, quartered, and thinly sliced
2 Granny Smith apples, peeled, cored, quartered and thinly sliced
1 1/2 c cranberries, fresh or frozen
1/2 tsp each cinnamon & ginger
1/4 c sugar
2 Tbsp cornstarch
1 c flour
1/2 c rolled oats
3/4 c light brown sugar
1/2 tsp each cinnamon & ginger
1/2 c margarine, cut in small pieces
Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Mix the pears, apples, cranberries, cinnamon, sugar and cornstarch together in a large bowl and toss well. Spread evenly into a pie pan.
For the topping, mix the flour, rolled oats, brown sugar, and cinnamon together in a medium bowl, then cut in the margarine pieces and mix with a fork or your fingers until the mixture resembles small peas.
Spread topping evenly over fruit mixture. Bake for 30-40 minutes, until browned and bubbly. Serve with ice cream or whipped topping.