Post by Joy Beeson Post by Dorothy J Heydt
Is baking your own thirteenth birthday cake a thing now? I never
heard of it ... but then my thirteenth birthday was in (counts on
fingers) 1955, and I don't think we even had a party; we'd just
moved and I didn't know anybody.
I believe that it was a coming-of-age rite in the nineteenth century.
At which time bakng a cake would have been a big deal. I was told
that one of my ancestors (or a friend of one of my ancestors) was
renowned for her cakes, and that she made them come out right by
sitting beside the stove and feeding the fire one cob at a time.
Post by Dorothy J Heydt
I've since acquired the opinion
that people who've left elementary school don't need birthday
cakes/parties anyway. Note my daughter does not agree with this;
so she co-sponsors birthday parties for a couple of kids
(including her own) who have birthdays equally close to the same
When my older sister was still compos mentis she had one birthday
party in February for everyone who was born in the winter.
Dave celebrates my birthday by taking me to a restaurant where we've
never been, and I celebrate his by making half a recipe of Brownies
Cockaigne, with the butter and chocolate not halved, and the nuts
tripled. The following day I cut the cake into small pieces and
freeze them, and he rations them out for months.
This isn't any "rite of passage" I went through, but a combination
of "things a guy ought to know" my parents taught me:
A young adult, young or old, should be able, health problems aside
that preclude one from eating certain common foods, to visit a
typical food market for the area in which one lives, and emerge
with ingredients of an inexpensive nature that one can make a
nutritious meal from (or two or three..) without resorting to
buying the more expensive prepared foods. One should be a able
to turn a couple of eggs and butter or oil and some bread into
a breakfast, or make a pot of oatmeal. One should be able to
cook a chicken or its parts, or some other inexpensive cut of
meat. One should be able to figure out which vegetables are
good to eat raw, and which you should cook, and when it makes
sense to serve a salad v something like steamed green beans.
If you are going to eat prepared food, have the good sense to
learn how to read a label for the ingredients and and tell
when somethng is a close equivalent of fresh (frozen vegetables
without any sauce) or when they are highly preserved and flavored
in ways that make them less nutritious (some canned veggies that
are merely Sodium Delivery Devices.) In short, How To Keep From
Surviving On Merely Kraft Mac & Cheese or Generic Equivalent
As A Young Adult, Or Wasting All Available Disposable Income On
Overpriced And Often Substandard Pizza. (aka "Bachelor Survival
When you can use these skills to cook an intimate dinner for
a Lovely Young Lady on a cold winter's evening, then you are
beyond survival. I passed this "test" with broiled lamb
chops, a minimalist rice pilaf and green beans almondine.
I made her favorite cocktail, a kir royale, and had Merlot
to accompany the lamb...and well before "Sideways," if you
please. I would have been about 25 before I attempted this.
One doesn't learn all the skills at once.
I never got around to learning how to butcher a hog, per REH,
We had a course in high school, a half-year elective for seniors,
called "Consumer Economics," that covered various life skills,
such as balancing a checkbook and making a household budget. It
was meant for graduating seniors who had never had "business math,"
but had concentrated on college prep for the first 3 years. It
was a gut compared to the othe semester-long electives I took in
sociology, American politics, and the history of Russia and the USSR.
It was useful for those of us who had never taken anything like
home economics. I remember that "restaurant meals" were to be
treated as part of the "entertainment" portion of the monthly
budget. Yoou'd have to be making far more that a typical mid-1970s
college grad could expect to make to "eat out" nearly every night and
still stay solvent.
Easy access to credit cards after graduating did lead to a lot
of us blowing cash we didn't have on such fripperies, a lesson
that was hard learned in many cases.