"I'm 28 today."
I kept saying the words over and over in my head when I woke up this morning -- as though repeating them would suddenly make them sound and feel normal.
I don't feel 28, but I never really feel my age. Usually, because I feel older, as though my brain somehow skipped ahead a few years when I wasn't looking. Likely when my fingers were glued to a computer keyboard, typing my rebel-without-a-cause days away while my more carefree contemporaries did tequila shots in their underwear.
But this morning, as I lay in bed, debating whether I should attempt to fall back asleep, I felt far younger than 28. I felt exactly like I did when I was five-years-old.
Too excited to sleep.
I know it's not cool to be fond of one's birthday any more -- especially when there's the big 3-0 looming in the not so distant future -- but I can't help but feel unreasonably giddy about a day that's all about me. I love that everyone from my cousin to a former coworker I haven't spoken to in four years leaves me birthday wishes on my Facebook wall. I love that my brother wakes me up in the morning with a, "Happy Birthday, stinky!" text message. I love that my best friend surprised me with a heaping container of bananas foster last night (I also love that I can justify eating all of it because, well, "it's my birthday").
It's strange in a way. How a day that is supposed to be about getting older instead makes me feel so much younger. How I could barely eat my Greek yogurt, fruit and almonds while I read the food section of the LA Times this morning, usually a leisurely activity for me, because my stomach was too tied up in excited little knots.
I couldn't wait for the day to begin -- to start baking my birthday dessert, to go to my free birthday Bar Method class, to have lunch with a friend at my favorite lunch spot, to sit on my couch sipping pink wine with my hands (predictably) glued to my computer keyboard. I wanted it all to be happening right then. I wanted all the birthday glory in my lap immediately.
It wasn't until I sat down with one of high school friends this afternoon with a cup of rooibos tea and one of these peach rosemary shortbread bars that the anxious anticipation started to melt away.
As I poured our tea, set out my special cocktail napkins and then used a fork to eat the dessert I selected to make because it didn't sound "too sweet," it hit me.
"I'm 28 today."
I felt every bit my age.
Peach and Rosemary Shortbread Bars
Adapted from Smitten Kitchen
Yields 9-12 bars
1/2 cup white sugar
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1 1/4 cups + 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon sea salt
1 stick + 2 teaspoons cold unsalted butter
1 large egg
1 peach, pitted and thinly sliced (between 1/8 and 1/4-inch thick)
1/2 teaspoon lemon zest
1 teaspoon fresh rosemary, finely chopped
2 tablespoons oats
1 tablespoon brown sugar
Brown your butter: Melt 1 stick of butter in a small/medium saucepan over medium-low heat. It will melt, then foam, then turn clear golden and finally start to turn brown and smell nutty. Stir frequently, scraping up any bits from the bottom as you do. Keep your eyes on it; it burns very quickly after it browns.
Preheat the oven to 375°. Line a 8×18 inch pan with parchment paper and butter or grease the paper. In a medium bowl, stir together sugar, baking powder, flour, salt and spices with a whisk.
Using a fork blend the solidified brown butter and egg into the flour mixture. It will be crumbly. Pat 3/4 of the crumbs into the bottom of the prepared pan, pressing firmly. Tile peach slices over crumb base in a single layer. Sprinkle with lemon zest and rosemary.
Mix remaining crumbs with remaining 2 teaspoons butter, brown sugar and oats, then sprinkle evenly over peaches.
Bake in preheated oven for 30 minutes, until top is slightly brown and you can see a little color around the edges. Cool completely in pan before cutting into squares.