I’m sitting here this morning typing away, the house quiet around me. Molly woke me by barking furiously at 6.30. Only one thing in this world makes her bark with that intensity… and sure enough the hot air balloons were soaring over the house. The animals fed, I sat down and wrote a birthday card for Tom 21. Yes, my oldest child turns 21 today.
Ridiculous really. I’m clearly far too youthful and dewy to have a 21 year old child. Yet such a thing has come to pass. He didn’t want to have a big party, so instead he hit the city with a few mates on Friday night and went out to another 21st last night. I decided to have a family gathering here tonight instead. Long term blog readers brace yourselves…
My parents, my sister and her girls and my ex husband and his wife and daughter are coming. Yes, I invited Tony and Viv.
My sister couldn’t believe it. She hasn’t seen him for 15 years. She was flabbergasted. (Never has her flabber been more gasted.) I’m slightly surprised that I did it too, but a few things nudged me towards the decision.
First, David19 saw his father for the first time in 3 years just before Christmas. It was his decision, because he wanted to go to the family gathering on Boxing Day at his Nonna’s place and he thought he’d better touch base with his father before he turned up “otherwise it’d be too weird”. So he and I drove over and we all sat and talked in Tony’s lounge room for an hour or so and it all went well. So that barrier was gone.
Secondly, Viv raised it with me when we were over there, asking if anything was going to be done for Tom20′s birthday. She was visualising us all going out to dinner in a restaurant somewhere, but she doesn’t know the goal I’ve set for myself this year and the expensive gift I’ve decided to give the boy. I was reluctant to shell out an extra couple of hundred dollars for a meal on top of that. (It is Skinflint Sunday, after all!) Viv and I get along extremely well, so having her and little Caitlin around (who is as cute as a button) wouldn’t be weird at all. Viv and my sister love a chat so we’ll talk through any awkward silences that might occur until the champagne takes effect!
The last, and most important thing, is that all of our children, Tom 21 is very much his father’s boy. I won’t lie… it’s been the cause of some friction between us over the years as he was growing up, but when it all boils down to it Tom 21 adores his Dad and so celebrating his life would seem a little odd without his Dad being there. Now that David19 is ok with clapping eyes on his father again there’s no real reason to keep the two sides of their family apart for big things like this. So they’re coming and bringing a fruit platter.
It’s funny when your oldest child (technically) becomes an adult. You can’t help but remember back when they were born; when they took that first breath that changes your life forever. I remember looking down into that white, lacy bassinet where that perfect little miracle I’d created was sleeping and feeling a wave of such love for that little helpless creature. That little helpless creature is now a big and burly man, sporting a bit of a beard and standing 6 foot tall. It all seems to happen in the blink of an eye.
Mum’s bringing a pavlova and a bottle of champagne, my sister Kate is working at the esplanade market so she’s just bringing a bottle of champagne, Viv’s bringing a fruit platter and I’m doing all the rest. I still have 2 marked down Christmas hams to chop us (which I’ll be doing this morning to make room in the fridge) so there’ll be a platter of ham. I originally thought I’d roast a lamb leg, but I think I’ll make it easy on myself and grab a couple of chooks from the supermarket. (The chooks in the back yard breathe a hearty sigh of relief.)
I’m making these dips and crackers.
The salads I’m making are these:
Potato salad. I made this on Christmas Day and it’s divine. So easy and fool-proof. (I know because this fool made it perfectly well!)
Beetroot salad with pomegranate and pistachios. Another Christmas Day thing. My sister made it and it was amazing. It was like a party of flavour rockin’ it up in your mouth.
Coleslaw from the EDC. I’m going to add some radish as well. I normally make the beetroot salad at demos and recently a customer asked me to make the coleslaw instead. I’d completely forgotten how easy it is. So it made the menu for tonight.
Warm brown rice salad with salmon and goats cheese. I use the basic recipe from the EDC but steam the salmon in the varoma for 17 minutes or so, then flake it into the salad with a fork. I make a dill mayo to go with it. I’ll also crumble the goats cheese and walnut pieces through, with various raw and steamed veggies. Adding things like sliced raw celery, raw carrot chopped in the thermomix for 3 seconds, seeds, the cheese and nuts and whatever else you feel like adding really bulks it up and you can feed an army. That’s what I’ll be doing at our cooking class in Mt Waverley tomorrow.
Torte Caprese with Ganache icing for his birthday cake. Again from the EDC. I was scared of this recipe for ages because it looked scary and sophisticated. OMG what an idiot I was. It’s a cake made from real dark chocolate and almond meal and it’s the most beautiful thing ever. Because you mill down your whole almonds into the meal it’s fresh and gorgeous. While the ganache icing (made from chocolate and cream) is just made by throwing everything in the bowl and heating at 50C for 2 minutes or so. No more double boilers! My sister Kate is avoiding gluten so this means she’ll be able to have dessert.
We’re feeding 11 so this cleverly means that there’ll be enough leftovers so that the boys won’t starve while I’m off doing a cooking class tomorrow night.
Yesterday I found a bag of plums in the fridge that I forgot about. I was making plum jam a week or so ago and ran out of jars. I had a few more jars given to me since then so thought I’d fill them up. Waste not, want not!
Anyway, the last batch didn’t have quite enough fruit (500g for the recipe I used) so I looked around, saw some apples in the fruit bowl and chopped them up and popped them in.
OMG!!!! The flavour is amazing! I’ve got so many jars of plum jam in my pantry (I use it as a base for a “Chicken tonight” type casserole when I’m short on time) and now I’m wishing that I found out about the apple and plum combo before. I only have two jars of “the good stuff”.
Just for quick reference, the recipe for the jam is here.