Since it was my 29th birthday (for like the 8th time in a row)*, I requested a special dessert that I happened to see in my Martha Stewart Living  Magazine. I know, those words, “I saw it in Martha Stewart and I thought I could make it!” have precluded MANY a culinary disaster, but I’m not one who learns my lessons easily, I suppose.

So Cadillac sprang to his mixing bowl and whipped these up:



No, I’m kidding.  Ha ha! Those are from Extraordinary Desserts, a place in San Diego serving desserts (and a long-ass line, too! My goodness.)

What happened was this: by fantastic happenstance, the kids ALL spent the night at my friend’s house. My friend who is a magical taco-maker, a great Mom, and is totally unflustered by kid noise.  Thus, Cadillac took me out.  I wanted to get sukiyaki, which I haven’t had since my Mama passed away.  I don’t know why, because it’s not really hard to make, but I just never attempted it and I was pretty young when I last had it.


We went to a shabu-shabu place in La Jolla.  I guess the difference between sukiyaki and shabu-shabu are these: sukiyaki has a sort of sweet stew broth.  Shabu-shabu is basically water, and then it has dipping sauces.

You get a plate of beef and veggies and you cook it all in this pot.  I don’t know if there was an order to how it was supposed to be done, but it tasted good.  There is a hot plate in the table.

There were tons of shabu-shabu places in Hawaii, but when the average temp is 80 degrees and the restaurants are not air-conditioned, I was never in a hot pot mood.

Anyway, this place was populated by Real Live Japanese people speaking my mother tongue. Not that I understood a word.  But I felt authentic, yanno?

Because my birthday seemed to have  an unintentional Japanese theme, Cadillac picked up this art book for me called Taisho Chic. See, the Honolulu Academy of Arts had these prints and screens of these 30s era Japanese women wearing traditional garb against Western backdrops. I thought it was fascinating but the art store didn’t have the book in stock, or something, and so Cadillac remembered and looked it up and bought the catalog on eBay for me.




Oh, about the dessert.

Baked Alaska.

I let Cadillac make it all by himself because he hates being told what to do even if he has no idea what to do (he also won’t read directions, so reading the recipe was like an Exercise in Self-Torture for the man). It looked very pretty but he should not have put it in the rectangular casserole dish (and it was a round cake!) so the ice cream actually oozed out the sides and melted all over. Aaww.  But because this is not Top Chef, no one got sent home and we ate up that sucker in no time flat, because partially melted ice cream, hot meringue and cake still taste really good no matter how messy the cut cake gets.




*The younger two kids believed I was turning 27 of their own volition.  Of course my eldest will NOT BE WRONGED and keeps adding a year or so to my age, which is already ANCIENT to her.  Ancient, I tells ya.  And she is absolutely mortified when people assume I’m a lot younger, which happens often, thankyouverymuch.

Yes, this blog is footnoted.  They may start being numbered footnotes, if you don’t watch out.

Published by Margaret Dilloway

Middle grade and women's fiction novelist. FIVE THINGS ABOUT AVA ANDREWS, (Balzer + Bray 2020); SUMMER OF A THOUSAND PIES. MOMOTARO: Xander and the Lost Island of Monsters (Disney Hyperion); TALE OF THE WARRIOR GEISHA and SISTERS OF HEART AND SNOW, out now from Putnam Books. HOW TO BE AN AMERICAN HOUSEWIFE was a finalist for the John Gardner fiction award. THE CARE AND HANDLING OF ROSES WITH THORNS is the 2013 Literary Tastes Best Women's Fiction Pick for the American Library Association. Mother of three children, wife to one, slave to a cat, and caretaker of the best overgrown teddy bear on Earth, Gatsby the Goldendoodle.

One thought on “Birthday

  1. When I lived in International House in Berkeley I was always transfixed by a picture of Japanese women during the war who lived at I-House. They reminded me of the opposite of Taisho Chic because they had “modern” 1940s haircuts and outfits. Depictions of 1940s America are decidedly from a white perspective so I wasn’t used to seeing other ethnicities wearing the popular looks of the time.

    Just now I did a Google image search for Japanese women 1940s and the cover of your book came up (with a review on someone’s blog).

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