When I turn 80, throw me a party. Invite my friends, invite my family. Invite the neighbors from down the street, invite the painter and the real estate agent. Invite my step-daughter, and convince her to fly in from California for the weekend. Invite my secretary and tell the theater director that it's fine to bring the playwright along.
Hire a square dance caller, get a band. Don't be surprised when the fiddle player knows some of the guests. Convince everyone that they really can do the Virginia reel, even if they don't know left from right.
Find a BBQ joint that caters, but make extra salads for the vegetarians and for the people who want something other than baked beans. Put up a tent in the field, and fly bandanna prayer flags all around.
And don't be shy about asking people to help: she loves to bake, and she loves to order people around, and she's a whiz with a tomato salad in the heat of August. And she'll deliver a box of pimiento cheese sandwiches the day before, which you'll need, because you'll have forgotten to eat lunch.
Order me a birthday cake, but don't try and put 80 candles on it. And have some grab and go brownies (for the people who like chocolate) and lemon cake squares (for the ones who prefer something a little lighter). And late at night, after most of the guests have gone home, you'll move all of the candles to one table, and you'll sit there eating the homemade chocolate chip cookies that one of the guests brought, while you kill all the open bottles of wine.
Remember to take some pictures, but if you forget, other people will.
It'll be a blast.
Lemon Cake Squares (from Moky's Black Book)
- 6 T. butter (3/4 stick or 3 ounces)
- 1 c. + 2/3 c. sugar (divided)
- 2 eggs, beaten
- 1 1/2 c. all-purpose flour
- 1 1/2 t. baking powder
- 1/4 t. salt
- 1/2 c. milk
- grated rind of one lemon
- juice of one lemon
- Preheat oven to 350F.
- Cream butter and 1 c. sugar. Stir in eggs. Combine flour, baking powder, and salt, and stir into creamed mixture. Add milk and lemon rind and mix until well combined.
- Pour into a greased and floured 9" x 13" x 2" pan (or better yet, line the pan with a parchment sling). Bake at 350F for 25 minutes.
- Meanwhile, combine lemon juice and remaining 2/3 c. sugar. Spoon over hot cake, and return to to the 350F oven for another 5 minutes. Cut into 1" or 2" squares while still warm.