Birthdays And Other Fun Activities

Well, this is confession time….this is not a true blog, nor in chronological order as of now. This is the personal diary of a young woman making excuses so she can keep track of her memories in writing and photo formats. Freedom of expression doesn’t always mean I have time to create entries for everything currently going on, meaning sometimes I have to come back to events that happened chronologically before other posts. AKA this post will be a before and after of another post: Rupert Goes Flying Kites.So let’s get down to buisness and start from the beginning of that home vacation.

mimosa2There comes a time in a young woman’s life when she has to celebrate with her first legal drink. It just so happened this was a Sunday in the early part of April of this year. Because of some spontaneous plans made with my childhood best friend in the earlier part of the week, I had a DD for the day. We went out to my favorite brunch location and I made a point to have my newly made license ready for when I ordered my first bubbly of the year…and perhaps my last. The drink started out sweet and balanced, but became more acidic as the food arrived.

Our server not only gave me a free gift card for a ‘wine tasting for two’, as well as served us three scoops of gelato. Out of the three, I could rave about the candy cap mushroom flavor which surprisingly tastes like maple syrup. By the end of the meal I was feeling like a lucky girl not just because of the unexpected presents. The bubbles had me feeling rather dizzy and tipsy, so I was very grateful to have my friend driving for us.

After brunch, we headed to the next town over and found ourselves in a pottery painting shop to remake some old memories. As children we had done this same activity and I found it fitting to celebrate my 21st with my oldest friend and celebrate like we were kids again…because who wants to grow up?

As always, my childlike mind could not make up her mind for some time. By the time I had picked my first piece my ‘DD’ was already started on her bowl. But by the end of the day I had finished my first piece (which was semi reluctantly picked) along with my choice pick, which I had to quickly and decisively paint. Sometime this week I will pick up the finished products and reveal their natures to this journal. My best friend spent the two full hours working diligently on creating a lovely yellow bowl with colorful butterflies using stencils.

2013-04-07 18.09.54By the time we had packed up and left, mother was calling to find out where we were, as per usual. We came home and soon my aunt and someone else arrived with her. To my surprise my uncle walked in the door, which was a gift in itself. Of course my aunt being the generous woman she always has been, brought a beautiful present. For all the time she spent shopping and clothes bought, it is still the little things that count. The cards she brought and the hand made ‘tag’ for the present were the best (most meaningful) part of her gift. The photo case is two sided and houses Boyfriend and my own photo.

But of course the night doesn’t stop there. Soon after my aunt and uncle left, mother said we had a dinner to go to. Surprise, surprise….not so much. As we were going the route, I started giving Dad the exact directions, which Mom had been first to call out. We ended up at the beautiful restaurant and bar which I knew to be highly praised for its french cuisine.

The night was grey and slightly chilly, keeping most of the locals away from the place. As such, we had the whole bar to ourselves and took control of the couches available. Looking over the drink menu, I chose my first ever cocktail: a lavendar lemon drop, but this was only after the best surprise of the night.

Drinking by the fireplace.

Drinking by the fireplace.

While trying to decide on a drink Mom said something the lines of ‘Oh, look’ to which I looked up and saw my boyfriend walking towards us. Instantly, I stood up and let my coat fall off my shoulders before glomping (run and hug) him and almost tearing up. Having spent the day with my best friend was a back up plan, because my boyfriend had other engagements with his family, which I thought would have kept him from me all birthday. Lucky for me, he worked magic and was there for my birthday dinner.

After being stuck in hours of traffic, having to convince a brother to leave him a car which he could get in without having to first go home, having to buy gas and almost not finding the restaurant Boyfriend definitely made magic happen. He was literally buttoning his last button on the shirt when he walked in the doors before I noticed and ran to him.

First kisses on the couch, still in shock.

First kisses on the couch, still in shock.

Imagine all this shock and happiness (mostly shock) to the sight of him in front of me and then arms around me. It was truly the most magical surprise of any birthday ever. All day I had been trying not to miss this man and not be sad on my big day. Thoughts of wishing he would magically appear while we were at dinner. It just all came together in perfect harmony, even with all the chaos of his day and my family having to stall. So glad I didn’t tear up, but it certainly moved me to want to. After this momentous time, we had a lovely cocktail time and some lounging by the brick fireplace before dinner.

We all ordered delicious sounding things: Boyfriend (nicknamed Duck) got the duck dish, Mom had the New York steak, Dad and Brother had twice baked potato and decadent spare ribs, while I enjoyed the swordfish with a cranberry sauce and spring risotto. Yes, traditional french techniques and some an Italian side dish on my plate. But let us not forget to mention that our appetizers were confited duck fried wontons with asian dipping sauce, or the best bowl of cream sauce I’ve ever had with mussels.

Dinner was finished, but my first ever lemon drop was still 1/3 full as the drink doesn’t really compliment the meal. It was just starting to drizzle outside when we left and made it home just before the big storm of the night hit. Normally I would have disliked the rain, but Duck being there made everything else perfect that evening.

As if things couldn’t have gone better, we eventually dug into the presents I’d seen on the table that morning. My parents must have been listening well because they got me the ice cream maker I had asked about, along with two large bottles of hard ciders for Duck and myself to later enjoy in the week. But the second best surprise of the night was the last present which was brought out separately that night.If only I had pictures of this gift, before the wrapping paper was torn off…it was peacock feather wrapping around a box that must have been 2.5 ft by 1 ft tall. Never thinking the price nor need for kitchen space could be justified, I ripped through the paper to find a sleek, silver KitchenAid which I had lusted after since finishing my schooling in culinary arts.

But my parents didn’t stop listening for presents. I had mentioned wanting tiramisu for my birthday cake….oh boy did I get a cake! photo 2(8)

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Rupert Goes Flying Kites

Indeed, Indeed…title says it all. Well most of it…no wait, I take that back. The title speaks of legendary winds, lots of crashing waves and cold waters, but also the tail of a kite.

The tail of a kite, so long and held below. Gives birth to the forward flight, of the soaring skies. If not for the kite, they would never know. Wind becomes chilly, when whistling in one’s ears.

Even more confused? Well, don’t worry…you will be guided through it all. This is the tale of a kite’s maiden flight and the man who flew it.

2013-04-09 15.05.37For my boyfriend’s birthday, I hand made a book of ‘coupons’ for things we could do together. One passage mentions flying a kite, but at the time there was no kite to give him. This past weekend, he got the rest of his present; Mother had bought this amazing, colorful kite.

You know when you want to fly kites, but you need to continually run to keep your’s up? Well, this wasn’t one of those days. With winds of 15mph, that kite was assembled and almost disassembled and went as high as it could go. Without a hitch, it went up, up and up…

We spent a good hour in those crazy winds; boys chasing the waves, throwing whole trees back into the water. All the while, I flew that kite and kept it at a steady, but secure height.

It was only once my boyfriend got his hands on it that we A) started walking along the beach, and B) let the kite fly as high as it would go. We even found a man made, beach wood hut of sorts that had all the local beach wood scraps lumped together against a rock and a small opening to get in. Inside, the wind was more quiet and you could still smell the burnt wood someone had lit for a fire. Unfortunately I did not think to take pictures at this moment. Just the relief to have no wind rushing against my ears made me content.

Eventually, I crawled back out and we started walking away to the other side of the beach where a cliff face was at the edge of the water ( you sort of see it in the picture). We got so close that eventually the howling wind was blocked and the kite finally fell to the ground. It landed by the cliff face, up around rough rocks and had to be retrieved by my brother.

Once we turned back, my ears were pounding from all the wind rushing in. Luckily my newest scarf wrapped around my head and I had an Arabic look about me. The walk back always feels so much longer.

2013-04-09 16.07.23

We passed over the dunes back to the car, where the wind was much quieter and enjoyed some chips and salsa. For the good 30 minutes we sat, Boyfriend was slowing rolling the entire length of the kite string back up, the kite still blowing in the wind. With less than 20 feet of line left, Boyfriend’s hand slipped and he let go of the kite. It took off a short distance up the dune before falling behind it and losing air. Thankfully his kite was retrieved. 

It wasn’t until we were all safely back in the vehicle and half way up the road that Rupert got a chance to see the ocean.

But what was even more surprising for him, was to learn that this maiden voyage was not only for the kite. Boyfriend had his first kite flying experience ever, as well. 

Pasta With Rupert…OR NOT!

Indeed, this is not with Rupert. However, it is with my Hedgehog and comes with a recipe.

One of my favorite dishes just happens to be every day old pasta in cream sauce. Cream sauce is so versatile and I had some things laying around in the frig, just waiting to be made into something even more spectacular. So out came the roasted garlic, dried olive oil-ed tomatoes, heavy cream, some thyme and parsley, along with walnuts and bell pepper. And ta-da!

2013-04-12 12.49.55 It all starts with having a good pasta that the sauce will cling to. Then comes your main ingredient of every good dish: SALT. Salting the pasta water, the sauce, adding cheese at the end of the sauce (preferably Parmesan for this recipe, but I didn’t have any at the moment). I found that salting the pasta water gave my pasta a good amount of seasoning, but my sauce lacked it. Even when you think you salted enough or too much, check and make sure before off pull it out of the pan.

Being a partial bread maker, I weighed my pasta out ,then weighed some more because this will be a lunch and dinner meal for myself. I think 4 ounces of pasta works better for this recipe than my 6-8 ounces. Note:You might see 4 ounces of penne pasta or a shorter pasta as about a cup of dried, uncooked pasta.  So while my salty water was boiling the pasta, I prepped my other ingredients, dicing a whole bell pepper, mincing 4-5 cloves of roasted garlic and mincing 4 dried tomatoes. 

Then came sauteeing everything; first came the bell pepper just until is got color on a few sides for 3-4 minutes at medium heat. After that came the tomatoes and some stirring of the pan a few seconds right before adding the garlic. Everything was smelling lovely by this time, so I added the dried thyme then a just splash of white wine (the good stuff you would want to drink). Let the wine reduce and evaporate out of the pan before adding your cream. Don’t forget your main ingredient after this step, salt here vigorously  Let’s say 1 cup of cream per 4 ounces of pasta goes in.

Again, once you add the cream everything has to come to a simmer (light boil) for several moments so the liquid reduces and flavors mix, meld and compliment each other. Let this reduce down while your pasta cooks the last bit, or for 3-5 minutes, depending on how thick you like you sauce to be. I reduced mine just 3 minutes and drained my pasta which immediately went into the sauce. All the gluten still on the unwashed pasta thickened my sauce even more so.

I finished the whole dish with two handfuls of walnuts and some dried parsley. I should have salted my sauce one more time before adding the pasta, because mine came out lacking somewhat. Salt used correctly heightens the flavor of your dish, so it is a big help.

Overall, my dish was an experiment and it went well. Sauce was not too thin and has good flavor when you take bites of the tomato, garlic or bell pepper. But just pasta alone is slightly bland. I love the walnuts, so please try it with them. Don’t forget to salt three times, because I believe that was my biggest issue. Flavors also develop over time, so if you wanted to add extra cream and reduce it down, it would allow flavors to meld together better.

Feel free to use fresh herbs for an even better pasta, or finish with Parmesan and a tad less salt.