Two days ago, Jake–our saggy, lovable Labrador–turned 14.
According to the fine folks at PetMD, that puts him somewhere around 88 years old in human years. We have to tap him on the shoulder to get him to turn around these days, and his joints are kind of creaky, but he still flips out whenever the UPS man comes to the door. Which is a good sign.
But then I look at this pre-VSCO Cam, pre-Instagram-filter photo:
And I’m reminded of how much time has really passed. How different our lives look now. A time before airport security lines, broken Skype conversations, long-distance email threads, and increasingly frequent discussions about “the future.”
I mean, 14 years ago,
- We were stocking up on canned tuna in case Y2K plunged the world into chaos.
- My sister was 7. Her favorite past time (it seemed to me, anyway) was inflicting physical pain in the form of kicking, punching, and occasional biting. Our relationship has since improved.
- I carried my CD player and CD collection everywhere, which included a very worn and scratched copy of Britney Spears’s seminal classic, Baby One More Time, and at least three editions of NOW That’s What I Call Music!
- We were all still glued to our Gameboy Colors and the endless enjoyment of Super Mario Bros., Frogger, and Black Bass Lure Fishing.
- We didn’t know what a Sichuan peppercorn was.
- I still used a Trapper Keeper for my school notes.
- The thought of living in China was laughable (due to its far-fetchedness) and frankly terrifying (due to its 7000-miles-away-ness).
- We had a pink bathroom. And a Hello Kitty shower cap. (see above)
- My mom decided out of the blue–after years of begging, cajoling, and light tantrumming–that we should get a dog.
Sometimes I’m afraid that the older I get, the farther away I’ll get from those memories, until they’re all ultimately replaced by more recent–and infinitely less sentimental–ones.
I mean, they’re already pretty fuzzy–all combining into one big megalith of experience that may or may not have been real, dreamed, or read about in a Meg Cabot novel.
Where does one turn, in a moment of crippling nostalgia?
One turns to cake. (Or pie. But since we’re celebrating a birthday, might as well be cake).
In honor of Jake’s birthday, I made a classy classic peanut butter cake, with peanut butter frosting. A decidedly retro cake, with very few bells and whistles. A back-to-the-source, sweet, peanutty love letter to the past.
The recipe yields a very moist, lightly sweet cake. Feel free to increase the amount of frosting if that’s your fancy.
Peanut Butter Cake: Recipe Instructions
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F and grease and flour your cake pan(s).
In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt and set aside. In a large bowl, beat together the oil, peanut butter, and sugar until smooth. Beat in the eggs one at a time, followed by the vanilla. Add the dry ingredients to the peanut butter mixture, alternating with the buttermilk, starting and ending with the dry ingredients. Fold it all together gently until smooth.
Divide evenly among cake pans and smooth out the top. Bake for 25-30 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean. Cool completely and frost with peanut butter frosting.
To make the frosting, beat everything together until smooth. If it’s too thick, add a little more milk (a teaspoon at a time). If it’s too thin, add a bit more sugar.
Spread the peanut butter frosting over that peanut butter cake!
Serve this classic peanut butter cake for any occasion!
To the 14 years that have turned that sudsy puppy into a very distinguished canine senior citizen–the years that have brought us to the here and now. Happy Birthday Jake!