Ruth's Birthday Today!

Happy Birthday Rufie! You're special to me and I love you!

I just love this picture of you getting ready to eat your cake! The smile on your face reminds me of when you were a little girl.

French Dinner (Read this first, even though it's last)

Okay, it took me a while, but if you start with "The French Dinner" and then follow in order with French Dinner 2, French Dinner 3, etc., they'll be in order (sort of). I only picked out a "few" pictures. Hope you enjoy. I had a blast preparing this for Norm for our 15th Anniversary of our first date. For those of you who know me well, you know this is a major record for me :-)
I don't think Norm knew what to think when I said, "Mon cadeau pour toi." or "Assaie-toi s'il vous plait." or "Tu es la meilleure chose qui m'est arrivee." and much more! And despite the fact that I practiced like crazy, I still had to look at my cheat sheet.

French Dinner 9 (Norm)

And here's who it was all for! Bonjour Monsieur Norm!

French Dinner 8 (decorations)

Here's some of the decorations and the table setting. I moved out all of the furniture that was in the greenhouse area except for the glass end tables (that held the wine display on one and the cake on the other). Our regular kitchen table is actually two tables pushed together, so I moved one of them into the greenhouse. I moved the CD player that was in the garage into the area to play the French music. You can see it sitting under the table that's holding all the candles (last picture). The CD player in the living room doesn't work and the other stereo doesn't have a CD player. Once Norm got home and I went to get him, I had him take a seat. I went to get the "la salade" and the CD quit working. We had a short interruption while we fixed the music. I was grateful as the music helped with the overall ambiance.

French Dinner 7 (menu)

Here's the menu I made and Coquilles Saint Jacques - which is scallops and mushrooms. The last pictures has the end result of the Coquilles Saint Jacques and Belgian Carrots on the plate. And there I am cooking. I'm getting rid of those shoes. I slipped them on right before Norm came home and before the meal was over, off they went. Anyone want them?

French Dinner 6 (random stuff)

While preparing the dinner, I took some random pictures. My black-eyed-susan's from my garden. My bugar boy who separates my eggs, and the egg white leaks out of his nose like snot. Kids love this guy. It's pretty. That thing on top of his head is the vanilla bean that was used in the creme brulee.
My little "sweet" picture - I was actually snapping a shot of what is in front of it, a hunk of butter. Don't ask me why.
Then there were the few accidents I had. I was drying off my 2 cup Pyrex measuring cup when it fell out of my hand and I watched it bounce once on the floor (it felt like it was in slow motion) and I was amazed that it didn't break, and remembered, oh yeah, it's Pryex, that stuff doesn't break. Then it bounced again and boom! it all shattered. Less than an hour later, after I removed the creme brulee from the water in the 9x12 Pryex pan, I carried it over to the sink to empty the water. It slipped and Bang! splattered in the sink. Wow, broke two Pyrex dishes within an hour of each other. Had never broken one before!
There's some herbs from the garden too. And the butter for the French bread!

French Dinner 5 (Le Salade)

Le Salade! And home made dressing: Jacque's Vinaigrette

That first picture is chopped garlic. As you can see, not only was I having fun preparing the French dinner for Norm, I was having fun shooting some pictures along the way. "Je voudrais faire la cuisine."

French Dinner 4 (French Bread)

My sister Ruth is the breadmaker in the family, but I wanted to attempt this myself. I haven't made bread since Jr. High where we totally messed up. The bread was like a brick and smelled of beer. I never tried since, until now. Ruth gave me lots of tips, but I still called her panicking. "After you divide it in two, do you put it in separate bowls or back in the same (one) bowl?" I worked up a sweat kneading the dough. Ruth, you can still be the breadmaker! Yours is much better, but I don't think I did a half bad job. And you were right, it is fun to "punch" down the dough. The fourth picture shows the dough "punched." At first I thought, how in the world is this ever going to come out.

French Dinner 3 (Creme Brulee)

Here's the Creme Brulee. Those pictured are not "crusted" with the brown sugar, which then they'd be served simply as pots de creme. We had pots de creme later that evening and the next night creme brulee. Hmmmm, and I wonder why I'm gaining weight. "delicieux"

French Dinner 2 (Cherry Quartre Quarts Cake)

I can't seem to figure out how to load all the photos - can't rearrange them, so I'll have to do this in parts.

After the Lemon Sorbet, I started on the Cherry Quartre Quarts Cake (A French pound cake).

I made the stencil and decided to put a little tab on it so I could lift it off the cake and not get powdered sugar all over the heart area.

The French Dinner

It first started with my best friend, Susan and I driving my daughter, Rita to Ottawa, Canada where she was going to live for six months with her friend, Rebekah. While there, we visited a nice French cafe. When Susan heard Rebekah speaking French to the baker, Susan fell in love with the language. We traveled home, fantasizing how we would open a French bakery, speak French and call the place Fabulous French Friends. That's where it ended.

Susan then invited me to a book discussion class where we met a gal named Sarah, who is a retired French teacher. When Susan found out, she told Sarah how we wanted to learn French. Sarah arranged a class in her home for Susan, myself and another lady, Charmaine. For six weeks, we attempted to learn French. During the beginning of this French class, I was on "sabbatical" writing - no cooking, cleaning, doing laundry, babysitting, socializing (this included taking French), so I would sneak out of the house to take my French lessons. I would tell the girls that I felt like I was cheating on my husband. I justified that it would help my memory by learning a foreign language. Then I had an idea that I would surprise Norm with a French dinner for our anniversary.

The anniversary of our "first date." Norm always remembers and I don't which is usually the opposite. I was determined I would remember this year and with justifying my French lessons, this made it perfect for me. I had three months to get the French down, prepare for the dinner and surprise Norm.

For the next three months I planned for the event. I shopped. I found some dishes. I bought a French apron at a little French boutique in Maplewood. I searched for French instrumental music. I borrowed French cookbooks from Kim and Ruth. I scoured for recipes. I practiced my French. I found a betty bargain book of France.

I spent three full days prior to the event getting ready. On Monday, I got creative and made collages with the pictures from the book. I made hanging mobiles with the photographs. I created a card with French words. I made the menu. I gathered different items I would use to decorate. I practiced my French some more.

On Tuesday I took a trip to the grocery store. And then started preparing ahead what I could, starting with the Lemon Sorbet. I continued practicing French. "Bon anniversaire du mariage."