Our family's journey to the heart of a handmade life

For she’s a jolly good fellow

My birthday was on Friday, and I am now twenty-four years old.

It is true that the older you get, the less fuss is made about birthdays. The bustling parties with busloads of gifts, a cake decorated with the finest neon hues and those ‘edible’ sugar formations, streamers and balloons and pointed hats, paper tablecloths and Little Mermaid tableware, gift bags and the uncomfortable outfit Grandma gave you for Christmas that you can’t wait to change out of so you go play in the dirt. It dwindles over the years, morphing into a pizza party with Hoodsie ice cream cups and champagne glasses filled with sparkling cider, then into a night out with friends and an excuse to stay home from work. After almost four years of marriage and a bank account tightened with the prospect of buying a house, the epic birthday party has become a quiet night at home with dinner for two. Which is a-okay with me; as a sensible homebody who prefers reading Jane Austen over a night on the town, I tend to opt for the inexpensive, least social option of a homemade meal, a bottle of wine, and a sappy romantic comedy. After a few years of experiencing this new version of the birthday celebration, I can honestly say that I love it. And with a husband who doubles as my best friend, it’s simply perfect. I was never really a fan of neon anyway.

The other half churned out a marvelous meal for me on Saturday, as a combination birthday-Valentine’s Day dinner. My birthday is the twelfth and I think it’s sort of unfair to make the husband to come up with dinner and a gift twice in the span of one weekend.

The menu:
Appetizer: prosciutto and caprese.
Dinner: salt-crusted filet mignon and a red wine reduction with caramelized red onion and garlic, roasted garlic asparagus, and yukon gold potatoes with a clarified garlic butter sauce. (Indeed, quite a bit of garlic here. But as long as you both eat it, you’re good.)

The drinks:
Before dinner: limoncello martinis. (I like mine on the sweet side, so I do half limoncello, half lemon vodka. Caravella and Svedka are my brands of choice, respectively.)
With the appetizer: my new favorite, Macon-Villages chardonnay)
With dinner: Bogle merlot (fruity, smooth, and budget-friendly.)
After dinner: espresso

One day, I will get the recipe for the red wine reduction out of my husband, as it is absolutely the BEST THING EVER. Salty, sassy, punchy, and smooth as buttah. If it wasn’t so rich, I would eat it straight from the pan with a giant wooden spoon. The only problem is he makes it instinctively, with no real proportions or timing. It’s the sort of thing that miraculously passes down from generation to generation, without ever making it to paper. This will be different, though. I WILL get that recipe. By force, starvation, or blackmail, he will transfer the recipe from mind to written word, and I will be sure to pass it on to you. At least, well, I hope so.

Instead of posting pictures, I figured I’d get a little fancy with a slideshow. Enjoy.