Birthday Negronis, Lemon Tart, John Prine

Greetings friends near and far. Yesterday was Andy’s birthday and we celebrated with a scavenger hunt, by car, through the neighborhood ending at a favorite pizza place for take-out. (Along the way, our friend Annie, a professional musician, played “Happy Birthday” on the French horn from her front doorstep, and it was the highlight of my month.) Back home we drank Negronis, FaceTimed with his brother’s family, and finally finished the puzzle we started on Saturday, the one I recommended in a past gift guide. It was actually a really nice day. Here’s today’s PPP…

Project: Lemon Tart

Andy and Abby share the same complete indifference towards cake (yesterday’s quote: “Have you ever heard someone say, ‘I had the best cake last night'”) so for their birthdays we usually end up sticking candles in pies or tarts or brownie sundaes. Abby’s gift to her dad was this lemon tart, a mash-up of this recipe for the filling and this one for the crust. (But swapped in gingerbread cookies for the graham crackers, because it was all we had!) To decorate, she piped whipped cream from a makeshift pastry bag, i.e. a ziploc. Oh my God was it good. PS: For the record, Phoebe and I are cake fans of the highest order.

Pantry-ish: Birthday Negroni

One of the reasons why I love this cocktail so much is because the formula is so easy to remember, 1:1:1 — gin, Campari, sweet vermouth. I add an extra large squeeze of juice from the orange slice garnish. Best enjoyed on the Amalfi Coast, or — a close-second — with take-out pizza in the dining room. (Anyone have an iron I can borrow?)

Purpose: John Prine, RIP

Ever since we heard John Prine was sick, we’ve been listening to his first album on a loop in our house, and the news of his death hit hard last night. I have such happy memories (and videos) of the girls singing “Pretty Good” on long road trips, and “How Lucky,” already a gut-level favorite, now has a whole new level of sadness and beauty. Today’s assignment is to find that song on whatever platform you find your music, play it while you make dinner, do a puzzle, or take a walk “down streets you used to wander,” and pay your respects.

Stay safe, stay home.

The goal of the Project, Pantry, Purpose series to keep us sane, distracted, and connected. Please continue to comment below with suggestions for recipes, projects (for kids and adults), good deeds, donation ideas, stories, movies, games, puzzles. Or just tell me how you’re doing, what your daily routine is, and how DALS can help you or people in your community. You can also email me directly at

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It’s my husband’s birthday today and I was struggling what to do for a birthday cake. Here in California our Meyer Lemon trees are busting at the seams and I just sat back down after a pantry perusal (thank you Trader Joe’s shelf stable heavy cream boxes) and my problem has been solved! Thank you! I am spending today making the recipes from your Freezer Care Package post from awhile ago. Having a week worth of meals ready to go in the freezer – priceless. I’m making the Mac and Cheese with pepper jack, it’s all I could find. Do another freezer post!
I love Negroni’s but our celebratory cocktail tonight will be a French 75. I can say it’s because we’re trying to use up the lemons, but they’re soooo good.


Well done with the Age of Corona birthday celebration! I’m having a low day with the stay-home business today (mid-week doldrums, I suspect) and it helps to be reminded to keep calm , carry on, and perhaps find something to celebrate. And if that fails, I just have to wait until 3:30 for a cup of tea and a slice of the banana bread we baked yesterday. We have a similar cake v. pie divide in our household. My husband and son request apple pie for birthdays, which I enjoy making more than eating, so that works out well for them. My daughter and I love cake. The one cake my devoted pie lovers get excited over happens to be the easiest of all cakes to make: a heavenly chocolate cake made from ingredients we nearly always have in the pantry with no eggs and milk optional. You even stir it up right in the pan so no bowl to wash. I feeling more chipper just thinking about it. Thanks for all the wisdom, comfort and inspiration.

Mom of Boys

Where did you get that long pizza board on the table? It is awesome!

Things are hard right now. I know we are the lucky ones, but it is sometimes easy to forget. Thanks for your daily dose of happiness to all of us readers.



Yesterday was my birthday as well a “big” one, so in a way i was glad to not have a big party. However ;as the day approached -i found myself wishing for a party; a gathering, or some sort of acknowledgement. Well my friends and family did not let me down. A few homemade and grocery store gifts appeared on the doorstep; including a puzzle , we got excellent take out and FaceTimed family for the cake ceremony. I used a fan to blow out 19 (COVID 19) candles.
My best present is the health of my family and most of my friends. Like NY; our area has been hard hit. This is a birthday i cherish but hope to never repeat.


We have that same puzzle! Our next one is the 80s -themed one.

Love a negroni!!

My son was singing “dear abby” at the age of 3. RIP John Prine.

Deborah Kim

Your quote about cake actually reminded me of an opposite quote from the Amazon show Catastrophe. One of the characters is eating a piece of cake at a cafe, freezes, squeezes his eyes, and says, “F***, that is GOOD cake.” (Personally, I’m in the pro-cake camp myself!)


Yum! You all know how to do birthdays! I just looked up the lemon filling and Bon Appetit made a mistake and called for 2 1/4 cups of all purpose unbleached SALT! haha I hope no one made that mistake.

Thank you for this series. I love checking everyday!

We live in Malaysia and the ‘Movement Control Order’ is so strict that we can’t go outside. Having a 3 year old and a 6 month old stuck in our apartment is tough. But we know how lucky we are to have a full fridge and our health.

I teach 5th grade and love following for book recommendations, party ideas, and delicious healthy recipes for my whole family.

We also participate in Family to Family because of you and think it’s more important now than ever.

Thanks for ALL of the inspiration!