When I think of September, I think of two things: birthdays and school.  As a September birthday, I was always a little sad about the start of school, and not for the reasons you might think.  First of all, I was always one of the youngest in the class (I just made the district’s cut-off for the year I was in… everyone born only a week or two after me had to wait another year before starting kindergarten), and secondly, my birthday happened so soon after school started each year that the teacher usually hadn’t established how birthday treats would be handled yet.  Thus, we didn’t often celebrate my birthday in the classroom.  When I got to college, school on the quarter system meant my birthday happened during summer vacation.  This is fantastic in theory, but in practice it meant my friends were scattered across the country in their home towns, not collected around campus to gather.

So September is birthday month, and I make no apologies about allowing the celebrations to stretch out across at least a week in one direction or the other.  Or sometimes both!  In this phase of my life, I find myself surrounded by a lot of other September birthdays (think about it: nine months ago it was December, a chilly but also festive time…), and I never hesitate to celebrate by helping them celebrate.  As mine approaches this year, however, I must admit to having barely begun to think about the food that will go with it.

And on that note, I must also admit my school analogy: this week, I didn’t do my homework.  I had a Bittman recipe all picked out, I bought the ingredients for it, and then between indolence and a wave of unexpected (but, at least for me, not entirely unwelcome) heat, I never got around to making it.  Fortunately, however, I can give you some make-up work: a photo essay!  This past weekend I went to the first birthday bash of September, a joint affair for my friends B. and Ch., and a spread that put my hostess heart to shame.  Following are just some of the delights available to sample.

Raw vegetable medley cups.  The delicious spicy hummus and masala spread provided to dip them in not pictured.





Homemade jumbo sized “oreo” cookies, with all the cruch and creaminess of the Nabisco favorite.  I am pleased but also slightly concerned that I acquired the recipe from my hostess…

Lemon raspberry cupcakes.  Alas, somehow I neglected to sample one of these beautiful summery treats, but they looked amazing.

 Look how lovely these chocolate-dipped pretzel rods are!  Bakery case beautiful, but I’m almost positive Ch. dipped them herself.

Here’s what really delighted me (besides these chickpeas, which were flavorful and crunchy and addictive): next to each item, Ch. made these lovely little cards not only naming the treat, but providing its dietary specifics.  Dishes were marked as “vegan,” “dairy,” or “gluten-free” so guests could determine for themselves what was safe for them to eat.  How kind and thoughtful, in today’s world with growing restrictions.

Thanks, Ch. and B.  It was a delightful party, and I was p-leased to celebrate you both.  I’m glad you were born!  Thanks for ushering in the birthday season with such tasty taste.

   Happy birthday!

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