Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Dinner: MacGyver Style

Beauty is an ecstasy, it is as simple as hunger.
-W. Somerset Maugham

Yesterday I packed up the dog and the baby and headed south again, another long trip with sketchy internet access. I am determined to do better on this trip, make sure no matter how difficult to keep training for the trail race in June, try to keep eating out and junk food to a minimum, and to post at least once a week; hopefully more.

Babou was intent on helping me pack which made everything go a little slower than usual,

and the day was pretty rainy which also slowed the process. However, my dear friend surprised me with a going-on-a-road-trip-gift: the soundtrack to my new favorite movie, "Vicky Cristina Barcelona." Do I have the best friends or what? It made the whole drive! It tinted my glasses a warm gold color as I drove, making everything more beautiful, mysterious, and a little foreign!

The road ended at my parents where I delivered Practical Sis, Mary Alice, and my birthday gift.

And then ran out the door and to the store to quickly shop and prepare her birthday dinner. It was 5:30 and they like to eat by 7 at the latest. The problem is my parents live in three houses, each with 1/4 of a kitchen. It was raining heavily and steadily by the time I got to their house, so I wanted to make everything in their house, not walk back and forth between them. Their house has a modified kitchen; a refrigerator, sink and the electric skillet they use to cook with. So that was my challenge for a special birthday dinner.

I got wine first, that always enhances everything you make, gauranteed! Then I got some garlic rosemary polenta (pre-made, in a roll). filet mignon, black peppercorns, canned pears, chocolate sauce, crispy oatmeal cookies (I had wanted meringue cookies, but they had none), and really good vanilla ice cream.

I rushed home and opened wine, fielded Babou, and started dinner while Mum caught up with Rescue Ranger who had called to wish her a happy birthday complete with an a cappella "Happy Birthday." (We have a tradition in our family of calling each other on our birthdays and singing as loudly and wildly as physically possible--even the dogs get into it, I have heard many a howl but really we get so into it it could be any of us for that matter!)

I first sliced the polenta into medallions, dusted them lightly in salt and pepper, and sauteed them in a little olive oil. Once those had cooked, I set them aside, covered, and then added more olive oil to the pan. I got it as hot as an electric skillet will get while I prepared the filets. I cracked the peppercorns and mixed them with seasalt dredging the filets through the mixture. I then seared the steaks, took them off to rest, and next prepared the sauce. I deglazed the skillet with about a 1/3 cup of pomegranite juice and let it reduce in half. Then I added maybe 1/4 cup balsamic vinegar and let that reduce in half again. I added a little salt and would have added a little butter to finish the sauce but they didn't have any so I just left it be and it was still quite good. I whipped up a little simple salad with a balsamic dressing and dinner was on the table!

For dessert, since I was too late to bake a cake or anything, I had decided to make a version of one my favorite desserts we used to serve at the restaurant I worked at during college. It was a scoop of vanilla ice cream sandwiched between two meringue cookies topped with a poached pear and covered in chocolate sauce--divine and easy! Couldn't find meringues to save my life so I used a crispy oatmeal cookie as the base, added a scoop of ice cream, and then topped it with a canned pear half and loads of sticky chocolate sauce! Candles were lit and singing wildly ensued and present opening after that!

I think our dear mother had a really wonderful birthday and was so pleased with all the phone calls and attention. That's what I love about birthdays and what makes me so avid about celebrating them, they can make you feel so amazing, beautiful, and loved. All of which our mother is...amazing, beautiful, and very much loved.


Jenn @ Juggling Life said...

Could you keep driving south and make me dinner? Please?

Happy Birthday to the mother of some of my favorite women.

Green Girl in Wisconsin said...

What a lovely present to your mom. YOur family sounds really great.

Katrina Hazel, Recruitment Hero said...

oh sis. I cannot believe how amazing you are. I would have gotten a costco cake and called it a day at mom and dads. I bet she is LOVING her present!!!! Genius I tell you... genius!!

ms. changes pants while driving said...

MY BIRTHDAY IS TOMORROW! come over and make dinner. oh man. that sounds wonderful.

happy birthday! i love your mom. what did you get her for her birthday? i can't tell.

and (le sigh) my birthday isn't tomorrow. it's in july.