Lucy’s birthday was Wednesday. She turned 3. Let me give you the highlights:
There was a blur of pink spread out over many days. A few dozen pink cupcakes. A pink fairy costume with radial tire-sized tutu. There were pink princess high heels clacking through the house, the ones we can barely walk on but MUST wear wherever we go. The ones we love so much we will scratch the eyes out of any child who comes near them. The ones so highly coveted the neighbors had to buy their kid the exact same shoes so that every playdate wouldn't turn into a rugby scrum.
It's a big pink Swifter. I haven't had to sweep the floors in 6 days.
There was a carriage ride in Central Park. A short love affair with a horse named Sasha. David was licked by a cow at the Central Park Zoo. There was pink ice cream at FAO Schwartz and overly-priced toys were purchased. Bank accounts were drained. College educations hung in the balance.
Happy Birthday was sung exactly 38 times, each time at the top of our lungs and with the appropriate amount of enthusiasm and bravado. Candles were blown out 18 times. There were 26 presents in all, all lovely, mostly pink and a bunch were of the Princess variety. Approximately 1/4 of the presents came to us by mail from outside NYC - thanks to all the grandparents here and in Australia. Lucy was excited to tear open each one of them...and then discard them promptly a minute later.
Actually, Lucy loved her gifts so much she shared exactly 0 of her new toys with her friends on her birthday and spent the whole time making me stash gifts on top of the fridge so that "no one can get them".
David decided against buying regular balloons for the party. Instead he purchased a TANK that actually blows up the balloons, so there were balloons clinging to ceilings in every room, and long ribbons hanging everywhere...and this humongous helium TANK that fascinated the children. There was great fascination surrounding this TANK. The kids kept dragging it out of the closet to examine it and I kept putting it back in the closet and they kept dragging it out again and I kept dragging it back in because I was pretty sure the kids would turn a knob and the whole thing would explode and we would be hosting the party from a homeless shelter.
Plus, it was huge and heavy and klunky and nearly as big as our walk in closet. Note to David: Pathmark has a very nice selection of helium balloons. You don't have to buy a TANK.
We ate well. Birthday lunch (for the folks who couldn't make birthday dinner) was special-ordered by Lucy - BLT's with Avocado and Brown Butter Corn. We sang some more and blew out more candles.
Lucy asked for "fish" for dinner, so we started with Ginger Carrot Dip with Crudite (adapted from Gourmet) and then, a tossed salad with ripe tangerines and a creamy cilantro dressing, Mezze Penne with Olive Oil, Tomatoes, Butter, Basil and Parmesan, Make-your-own Shrimp Sandwiches with Tarragon-caper Mayonnaise (adapted from Bon Appetite), followed by pink mini-cupcakes, more singing and more candle-blowing.
Approximately 72% of the time it took to prepare both the lunch for 6 and the sit-down dinner for 12 was simultaneously spent holding Edie on one hip and 39% of that time was spent actually nursing her while I cooked. This means that I am clearly the best one-handed cook around and am looking to open a chain of schools catering to amputees, chronic breast-feeders and stroke victims who favor one side of their body over the other.
I expect to rake in the big bucks. Food Network here I come.
Until then, I have included my versions of the recipes for Ginger Carrot Dip with Crudite (There have been requests from guests. Yes, Amy I'm talking about you) and Shrimp Sandwiches with Tarragon-Caper Mayonnaise.
I'm sure you two-handed freaks can whip up these dishes in half the time it took me. Have at it!
Shrimp Sandwiches with Tarragon-Caper Mayonnaise
This recipe makes about 6 servings
1/3 cup mayonnaise
2 tablespoons drained capers, finely chopped
1 1/2 tablespoons grated sweet onion (such as Vidalia or
1 tablespoon chopped fresh tarragon
1/4 teaspoon celery seeds
1/4 teaspoon (or more) hot pepper sauce (I used Sambal)
1/2 cup finely chopped celery heart with leaves
2 tablespoons (1/4 stick) butter, room temperature
12 small (3-inch round) soft sandwich rolls or 6 hot dog buns, split horizontally
1 pound cooked peeled deveined large shrimp, each cut horizontally in half (don't be afraid to leave the shells on if the kids are eating - kids love to peel their own and it's less work for you)
Tomato slices (optional)
Avocado slices (optional)
Thinly sliced butter lettuce (optional)
Mix first 5 ingredients and 1/4 teaspoon hot sauce in medium bowl. Mix in celery. Season with salt and pepper and more hot sauce, if desired. You can make the mayonnaise up to 6 hours ahead and I find it is a little better if you make it ahead. Cover and chill in fridge.
Lightly butter cut sides of rolls. Heat griddle or large nonstick skillet over medium heat. Add rolls, buttered side down, to griddle and cook until golden, 1 to 2 minutes. (if you're doing a party, don't be fussy - just pop them in the oven for a quick toast)
Now 2 ways to do this - (1) Spread mayonnaise over bottom of each bun. Top with shrimp, tomato, avocado, and lettuce, if desired. Cover with top buns. Transfer to plates. Or put all the veg and shrimp on the table and let people make their own. I prefer this when kids are at the table because the little ones love to peel the shrimp and construct their own. Adults do, too. It makes people feel more comfortable and less fussy. This is a great meal for getting a group together who don't know each other because every one is busy piling things on buns and reaching across the table. Fun!
Ginger Carrot Dip and Crudite
1/2 cup mayonnaise
1/4 cup sour cream
1 1/2 tablespoons seasoned rice vinegar
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1/4 teaspoon Asian sesame oil
5 medium carrots, coarsely chopped
1/4 cup chopped peeled ginger
2 scallions, coarsely chopped
Accompaniments: raw carrot, celery, and cucumber sticks; trimmed green beans and asparagus; broccoli and cauliflower florets; or any other vegetables in season
Purée all ingredients in a blender until it is almost smooth, but still has some chunk to it. If you puree it too much, it will turn to juice and it won't be hefty enough to stick to the veg. Transfer to a bowl and chill, covered, at least 1 hour. Before serving, sprinkle a little of the coursely chopped carrot on top.
This dip can be made ahead and kept chilled up to 24 hours before serving.