Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Happy Birthday, My Darlings!

Did you all know that today is Julia Child's birthday?  She would have been 99 today.  I first discovered Julia in elementary school.  I remember watching The French Chef everyday after school with my mother and my grandmother.  I was fascinated with everything she did and couldn't wait to grow up and have my own "Julia inspired" dinner parties.  Those were the days before the Internet or Food Network - the world had never seen anything like Julia Child.  She changed the way we thought about food.  She taught us it's okay to make mistakes and not be perfect.  She showed us it's okay to have fun in the kitchen. And she gave us the courage to experiment.  My favorite Julia Child quote is " Remember, you are all alone in the kitchen and no one can see you".  So True ~

Have you seen the movie Julie and Julia?  I LOVED this movie! Meryl Streep was incredible as Julia Child.  {On a side note I adore everything that Nora Ephron directs.  She is responsible for most of my favorite movies: When Harry Met Sally, Sleepless in Seattle, You've Got Mail, and now I can add Julie & Julia to the list.  She's another one of my hero's that I'll talk about another time}.  Anyway, I loved getting to know Julia in a whole new way.  She was a strong, determined woman who had husband who loved and adored her.  She also lived in Paris which that in itself is enough to make my heart sing.  Just another reason to love Julia. 

This movie was also my first introduction to a new thingy called "blogging".  Until then I was not that familiar with it.  Fast forward a few years and her I am with a food blog of my own.  You think subconsciously the movie might have had something to do with my motivation to do this blog? Maybe just a little bit....wink, wink...

Speaking of birthday's we had a very special one on Sunday.  We celebrated my son's 4th birthday with family and friends. All gathered around my kitchen table we ate meatball subs (by request - they are my son's FAVORITE), chicken salad sandwiches, Caesar salad, calzones, and fruit salad. 

The chicken salad sandwiches are my Dad's specialty.  He has a secret blend of seasonings he uses and also adds dried cranberries, which is a delicious touch.  He even has a special stainless steel bowl he uses just to mix the chicken salad.  I found this out when I accidentally borrowed it once. This is serious. 

Instead of birthday cake we had cupcakes, ice cream, and an Italian trifle that my mother made.  She soaks (almond toast) biscotties in rum and layers them with vanilla pudding, chocolate pudding, cool whip, and cherries.  It's sooooo good (and has a little zing to it...: )

I'll post the recipe and further instructions for that later in the week.  You can see it there on the left in the picture above.  There was not much left by the end of the party.  I polished off the last of it for breakfast this morning. I'm not kidding.

My kitchen/living room area is on the smaller side and whenever I entertain a large group I worry it will be too close for comfort.  I do love having an open layout,  however, sometimes I wish I had one of those TV sitcom kitchens with the swinging door - like on Threes Company.  Mental note for next house : )

Overall the party was a success.  My little one loved having his cousin's over to play with and got many, many generous gifts from family and friends.  He's a very lucky boy.  He happily played all day and meltdowns didn't occur until the end of the night (once the cupcakes kicked in).  He was smiling all day and that's all I could ask for on my baby's birthday.  He makes us so happy every day!!!! 

My-my, how four years have gone by fast.  I can't write about this now or I will cry.  Truly.

Because my son's birthday and Julia Child's birthday are just one day apart I wanted to add something "Julia inspired" to the party.  This was not easy considering it was a Thomas the Tank Engine themed party, but Julia and I are kindred spirits and this is what I came up with.

For an appetizer I made Pear, Walnut, & Ricotta Costini.  I didn't get this recipe from Julia, but I felt like it would be something she would serve - maybe at a birthday party of her own - in Paris perhaps.  They are simple and elegant, slightly sweet but not overpowering.  All you need to make them is:

ricotta cheese
pear slices
chopped walnuts
salt & pepper

For crostini I used a french baguette, cut into 1" slices, and toasted for 5 minutes in the oven.

Spread ricotta cheese evenly over crostini.  Season with salt and pepper.

Apply each piece with a ripe pear slice.  I used Bosc Pears with the skin on.

Drizzle with honey and sprinkle with chopped nuts.

I have to admit my son was much more interested in the crackers and cheese, but the adults liked them : )

I think I might have become slightly addicted. Several got consumed while preparing this platter.  eeek!

Today was a rainy day so we didn't go to swimming lessons.  We spent the day in our pj's assembling train tacks, reading directions, playing with new trains, and riding a scooter up and down the hallway.  What better way to spend the day after a party.

Nothing can stand between a boy (well, my boy) and his trains.

Life is good at four years old!

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