It’s official. I am 44 years old. And for the record, I am very much enjoying my 40s. Living, loving, working, exploring, cooking, laughing, learning (always learning), being . . . it all seems to just get better with time. I am also much smarter than I was in my 30s, 20s, etc. Thank goodness.
My boys are good to me on my birthday, always have.
“Honey, what would you like to do for your birthday?” hubby asks . . .
“I’d like to go and visit our Airstream and spend the weekend with her,” I replied.
I say, “visit,” because my silver girl is at a lovely RV repair shop in Cle Elum, Washington which just happens to be right next door to an even lovelier campground called the Whispering Pines RV park. Sadly, she suffered some mishaps during our recent trip through Idaho and Montana like losing power (our 30 amp plug-in failed miserably and couldn’t provide us any power for an entire day! That is, until the light bulbs went off over our heads and we realized we had another 30-amp plug in towards the front of the Airstream, oiy doi ! Sometimes we are truly geniuses I tell you – ha ha). In addition to that, there were other minor issues such as the electrical wall outlets being pull out from the wall (impatient little boys pulling out chargers with no regard to the delicate nature of how the wall outlets are installed, lesson learned) and my beloved microwave has lost her lovely feet and now likes to slide and dance all over the inside cabinet while under tow . . . when hubby complains about these minor infractions I remind him like this, “Well honey, this is all much less money than owning a boat. Do you remember?” and I poke him in the side to remind him and he laughs. Case dismissed.
“What about dinner? Shall we take you out?” he asks some more . . .
“You know what honey? I would really like to cook YOU a delicious dinner, for my birthday,” I tell him . . .
Why do I pass on a glorious evening out at a fancy restaurant? Well this is why. Cooking for my boys is what I love to do when visiting my silver girl. During the week at home I am rushed every day. Rush, rush, rush. I come home from work, the boys are “oh so hungry!” and I am whipping together this and that. Poor Oliver sits at my feet hoping I will drop something to the floor (which always does happen) I slave at the stove, we sit down to eat and in 10 minutes, the meal is gone. Oh how things are different when I actually have the time to cook. Typically I am in a beautiful setting with my Silver Girl with the birds singing just outside my sunshine filled screen door, the radio is pouring out sweet melody’s that sooth my soul and finally, I am relaxed. I cook with goodies from the local market, butcher, and/or fish monger. Whatever the ingredient is, it is fresh and it is local.
Needless to say, I was very much looking forward to my birthday weekend with my Silver Girl.
Here is how it went:
During our fly fishing outings, the skies were very smokey from the wildfires . . .
Dinner compliments of my home garden and Owen’s Meat Market in Cle Elum . . .
That’s my Vitamix. It is a commercial model that I found on Craigslist for $150. I decided to fancy it up with stickers (because it really isn’t the prettiest thing to look at). This is the first sticker of many to come, I’m sure . . .
An incredible pie crust that I stumbled upon over at Food52. Recipe to follow with a few minor exceptions:
This was a birthday celebration for the books — and one that I will remember for a very long time.
Found on Food52, I used Chris Kimball’s recipe from Cook’s Illustrated/America’s Test Kitchen (Click here for pie crust recipe) with a few exceptions:
- You will see the recipe calls for 1/2 cup solid vegetable shortening. I don’t really use that ingredient so I just replaced it with butter.
- I did not use any sugar.
- I added ground black pepper into the dough — I just eyeballed how much I think I would have liked.
- I put the water and vodka, together in a mason jar in the freezer to chill it up vs. keeping them separate. It turned into a slush before I added it. I think that helped and was a good thing.
- I did have dough left over that is now in the freezer for later use.
- Once the dough was chilled, I rolled it out (adding a sprinkling of flour to prevent from sticking — this is a tacky dough), placed it into the tart pan, pricked it with a fork and put the tart pan into the freezer for 30-40 minutes to freeze it up to avoid shrinkage in the oven. It still did shrink a little, I imagine if I skipped this step it wouldn’t have turned out so well.
- I then baked it for about 20 minutes at 375 until it turned a slight golden color. I allowed the crust to cool. If you like your crust a darker golden brown color, keep your eye on it and bake it a bit longer.
Meanwhile I mixed 1/2 block of cream cheese with 1 cup of whole milk ricotta, a pinch of salt and whole heck of a lot of freshly ground black pepper until it was nice and smooth. There were some lumps but I didn’t mind. I spread this onto the pie crust once it was fully cooled, topped with sliced tomatoes, torn basil, crunchy salt and a sprinkle of black sesame seeds.
A drizzle of cold pressed extra virgin olive oil before serving is quite nice.
Happy August to you !
~ Monica xoxo