“What do you want for your birthday?” It’s a question we all ask and are all asked, but this questions encourages a very specific answer; it encourages us to name a thing.
“What do you want for your birthday?” Is the question I’ve been asking my husband for the past few weeks. Occasionally he names a thing, like a shirt, or a tool, or a book, but his most honest answer is also his glibbest: Nothing.
If nothing is what someone really wants, is it wrong to give it to them? What is the purpose of giving a gift at all? In this context it is done to say I’m glad you’re here, that you exist. Is a new shirt the best way to do that? I doubt it.
In taking a more minimalist approach to life we’ve had to rethink how we give and how we receive gifts. It feels strange sometimes to not mark such an important occasion with a store bought package. We’ve been conditioned by a life time of advertising to equate spending money with showing affection. But when I think back to the times when I felt the most loved and valued, money was not part of the equation; it was the handmade card telling me I was missed during a long trip, it was the funny note a friend took the time to send after I was bitten by a coyote, it was the rendition of happy birthday left on my answering machine at midnight. Such simple things that say I’m thinking of you, without an unnecessary commercial intermediary.
So my gift to my husband this year is simply time. Time spent together, and time put into marking the day with something special: The Birthday Cake!
The traditional birthday cake in our home is the carrot cake. It may be the healthiest of cakes, but I think I first fell in love with it because of the cream cheese frosting. The recipe I’ve used in previous years calls for 11/4 cups of sugar in the cake, and a whopping 3 cups of sugar in the icing. As a gift to my husband I’ve been experimenting and tweaking the recipe to reduce almost all (if not all) of the sugar, without sacrificing the cakes flavour or moisture.
Sugar has been on our list of things to avoid for a while now, but
we I keep coming up against one insurmountable obstacle. Heart disease, insulin resistance, and weight gain don’t seem like todays problems when a slice of cake is staring you in the face. While I’m not now, and probably never will have the discipline or motivation to give up sugar entirely, reducing my intake to a few teaspoons or less a day has been surprisingly easy. And being able to serve a slice of sugar free cake that we actually want to eat will make it even more so.
So here’s to a slow day of spending time together and eating cake!
1 cup Whipping Cream
12 oz Cream Cheese
3/4 cup Pineapple Juice
3/4 cup Icing Sugar*
1 tablespoon Cornstarch
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- In a small saucepan stir together pineapple juice and cornstarch, bring to a boil and stir until thickened, set aside to cool
- Whip cream, set aside
- Beat Cream cheese, icing sugar, and vanilla until light and smooth
- Add cooled pineapple to cream cheese and beat until smooth
- Fold whipped cream into cream cheese in three additions
- Refrigerate for at least 1 hour before spreading on cool cake
*Note: This sugar can be eliminated if the pineapple juice and cornstarch mixture is doubled