Monthly Archives: February 2013
Today would have been my Dad’s 70th birthday. He is gone now, but if he was around I think he would have hoped to have a big celebration for what he called the start of his New Year. Birthday parties were a big deal when I was a kid, and my parents did a bang-up job of creating wonderful celebrations.
One year, I remember we had a party for my little brother in our rec room, which was the funky space downstairs with a mural wall that included the family dog, a huge tree in the corner with Impressionist leaves, and a giant flower. We didn’t play any mundane games like Pin-the-tail-on-the-donkey at the Peturson house… we played “Pin the bee on the flower”. Can you tell my parents were hippies?
When my brother and I got older, the family went for dinner at a restaurant to celebrate. I don’t mean White Spot or Swiss Chalet; we went to places that served savoury crepes or Spanish paella and caesar salad made at the table. My parents enjoyed wine, and we got to try things like mussels or lamb. Talk about feeling spoiled on your special day!
Years later, my Dad and I enjoyed a fabulous vacation in Maui, and food was one of our favourite memories from that trip.
We had our server prepare crepes at the table for us, and he was brilliant in his presentation. He decorated my crepe so that it had chocolate sauce wings with fruit coulis patterns and whip cream “fuzz” over the crepe body. Then he prepared my Dad’s crepe with more mottled colours, and for the piece de resistance, threw the spoonful of whipped cream on the plate and said, “Oh darn, your bug hit a windshield.” My Dad laughed till tears rolled down his cheeks. We talked about that dinner till the day he died.
Interestingly enough, though, my Dad did like comfort food even after years of expanding his food horizons beyond the meat and potatoes of his prairie childhood. His favourite dessert was jelly roll, and it was one of the first desserts I learned to make, in his honour. It was one of my first real accomplishments in life, to flip that pan and then roll that sponge with the filling inside with enough confidence not to blow it 🙂
So, here’s to you Daddy. Thanks for all the great memories, and for reminding me that birthdays deserve to be celebrated in grand style.
We just got back from vacation, and now that I am home under grey skies again, with the heat turned up and my tan quickly fading, I am trying anything to keep the memories of the holiday alive. The taste of the tropics is one way that certainly works well!
We had friends over for dinner so that we could regale them with stories of our adventures in Jamaica. It seemed only fair that we would put them in the mood too so we created a theme dinner.
To start the evening I made rum punch, using the bottle of rum we won at the resort for correctly answering the most questions in the Lovers Game. I suppose we had an advantage with our fifteen years together – the young couples competing against us weren’t seeing eye to eye on things like whether sex or sports was more important. Once you’ve seen as many Superbowls as we have, you know what’s really important at the end of the season 🙂
For a quick appie I put out some home-brined olives to remind us of that salty tang of the sea, and some goat cheese. Not because we had goat cheese in Jamaica, but because we couldn’t believe they didn’t have it with all the goats we saw roaming the countryside!
Then came the main course, a variation on one of our favourite local dishes, curried goat (you see, they do use those goats for something). Martin did a leg of lamb with the same aromatic broth and added some veggies reminiscent of our trip – sliced plantains and sweet potato along with the usual carrots and such. He added a scotch bonnet pepper too, which kept us all nice and warm! We served the stew over a creamy polenta that offset the spice and reminded me of the “grits” they serve in Jamaica. We broke down and enjoyed some local wine with dinner, although a few bottles of that well-chilled Red Stripe beer could have done nicely….
For dessert, I am pleased to say I hit the ball out of the cricket pitch (another witty Jamaican reference for you there). I put a twist on my pineapple upside down cake, using coconut milk instead of cow’s milk and adding some shredded coconut in the cake. With fresh pineapple and some warm rum caramel sauce to pour over it, we had the perfect way to end the evening.
Our friends laughed at our stories, and oohed at our photos and I think they felt a bit better for having been exposed to our post-holiday warmth. It was wonderful to share the experience after the fact. And, it felt good to hold the memories in my tummy just as I do in my head.