Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Alexandra's Birthday

Well, our baby is now 2 years old and I can't believe it. Her birthday and name day landed on a Saturday this year so we had a party that evening. The weather wasn't bad. It was still hot but there was a very comfortable wind. It was definitely a wind, not a breeze. But anyway I had expected around thirty people to show up and only four did. A few weddings, an illness, a very pregnant woman and a couple on vacation were all very legitimate reasons for missing Alexandra's celebration. We had a great time nevertheless.

We had a great variety of foods. Here's the a picture of the table. I took it after we started to eat so things got a little messy.
I used my last can of gandules that I brought with me from home for this very special day. No celebration in my family would be complete without arroz con gandules-or as we refer to it as "the rice". It's missing a few key ingredients that I don't have available right now but it was still acceptable. I'm missing fresh cilantro and alcaparrado. Here's the pot of rice...

I need my husband to buy me new a caldero...the best Puerto Rican rice is always cooked in a caldero. I remember the calderos that belonged to all of my female relatives were always on the stove top...never taken from their position for family gatherings. The rice is in the know where to get it. Always. To this day, I can visit an aunt of mine and she doesn't serve us, she just says "there are plates on the counter and you know where the food is". I really miss that and I really miss my mom's rice-the rice of all rice. I never mentioned it, but last year my mom sent some of her rice home with Kosta and we were able to enjoy it here. She made it the night before he left and filled a gallon sized Ziploc bag...(double bagged) and we ate rice for two days. (Kosta traveled in the winter so heat wasn't an issue-the rice was safe)The kids were so excited and so was I.

Back to the party-

I also made guacamole...
This was the hit of the night! Everyone had their fair share and if I would have made more it would have been devoured. Even MIL loved it. We've turned her on to Mexican food so she's had this before and really enjoys it. This recipe was inspired by our trip to Puerto Vallarta when I was just 6 weeks pregnant with Izabella. The waiter at a local restaurant made the guacamole fresh at the table so I watched carefully as he assembled our order. Here's the recipe for Saturday's guacamole. (I change the recipe all of the time).

Saturday's guacamole

4 large ripe avocados
1 small onion-diced
1 small tomato-diced
1 lime
1 tsp dried cilantro
Salt to taste

Mash the avocados in a bowl using a fork. After you have a smooth/lumpy consistency add the onions and tomato. Mix to combine the ingredients. Cut the lime in half and squeeze the juice of the lime into the mixture. Add the salt. Add the cilantro. Mix and let stand for at least ten minutes.

That's it-it's that simple. But again, a handful of fresh cilantro(chopped) is preferred so if you have it use that instead of dried cilantro. It makes a world of difference.

After we ate there was an evening walk in our "woods". With nothing more than a flashlight and the light of my video camera we took a dark, almost scary walk through our olive trees. The kids loved it! I had fun too, I just didn't like pulling all of the burs from my skirt afterward. So, after our walk we cut the cake. As I was scooping ice cream onto a plate with the cake my koubara's daughter asked, " we get ice cream with our cake?" I said, " of course you do, it wouldn't be a birthday without ice cream & cake served on a plate together". In Greece, typically, ice cream is only eaten in the summer(which it technically is) and on its own. So, little Irene was thrilled to have both ice cream and cake on her plate. Her brother, Nick, was so thrilled he ate 2 servings of ice cream. Everyone had so much fun.


  1. Happy birthday sweet Alexandra. Hugs and kisses from your Cypriot friends.

  2. Happy birthday and xronia polla (for her giorti)!

    That's amazing that only 4 people showed up of 30. The only place I've seen that happen is here, and then you've made a ton of food for nothing. Or it's the opposite, when people bring uninvited guests without saying anything and then you don't have enough.

    My guac recipe is slightly different than yours. I add garlic salt, cumin and a splash of tabasco.

    What a great job you did, and I love the photo of you and K.

  3. Love the tiara.

    2 years old! I can't believe how fast time goes by. My nephew, who yesterday was a bald, big eyed toddler that we dressed up in 70's leisure suits (to make my sister crazy) graduated from high school this June. He's 18! - all I did was blink.

    Happy Birthday Alexandra!

  4. wow, cheryl, interesting post. i take it you're puerto rican - i'd love to hear more about your cuisine. the rice looks great.

    as for cilantro, buy some coriander seeds - the stuff used in some greek baked products - and sow them. i have some growing in my garden right at this moment from this method.

    as for ice-cream with cake, my husband's learnt to enjoy my karidopita in this way. he's even convinced other people that this is a fantastic combination!

  5. Philip- Thank you so much!

    Kat-Thank you! You know, as for the guests...really-it was the last weekend of summer. I forgot to mention that we also had a few friends on vacations and I knew that they wouldn't come. Having so much food wasn't a big deal because I didn't have to cook for a few days. That's always a bonus.
    As for the guac-I've put cumin in before and I love it with jalapenos. I have some on hand but I didn't add them so that the children could enjoy it too. Next time though-I'm spicing it up!

    Syd-Thank you so much! I know what you mean about a blink because time really does fly. My first nephew is 18 and now he's a marine! It blows my mind.
    70's leisure suits...did they belong to someone before? My MIL saved one of Kosta's suits and it was blue-velvet with a ruffled white shirt. Totally Austin Powers!

    Maria-Thanks! Yes, I'm half Puerto Rican. My father is PR and my mother is American-of Northern European descent. The PR food is outstanding.
    Coriander seeds-Thanks for the tip! I'll try that too. I have a seed packet for cilantro that I've been holding on to because it's been so hot. I think that I can sow them soon. I can't wait.
    About cake & ice cream-I take it that it's typical in New Zealand also-to combine the two.
    I love karidopita! I've also had mine with ice cream and it's an excellent combination.

  6. I don't know where we got them, but they were held over by someone from the 70s. My favorite was polyester double knit and avocado green, with the giant lapels and bell bottoms.

    My sister went batty when I said I was going to put him into it, so my Grandma and I waited 'til she wasn't around - and we have the photos to prove it. I still laugh when I see those pics.

  7. happy birthday alexandra!

    cheryl, you look fantastic in the photo with kosta (have you lost weight? you really look great!).

  8. Syd- LoL! My MIL did kind of the same thing to me. She had this white-terry cloth jumper with little ruffles on the straps...complete with red and pink Smurfs(of all things!) that she said was Kosta's and she said that she saved it for Foti. I rolled my eyes and told here that clearly it was a girly outfit. Well, I left her alone with Foti for a little while and when I returned he was wearing it! I was so mad at her. He was only 14 months old so he couldn't argue. I think that she did it to make me mad. But again, I just rolled my eyes. :)

    Linda, Thank you! You know, I may have lost weight sweating my butt off over here. But, I'm not really sure. I haven't been on a scale in over a year. We left our super expensive digital scale at home and it's too heavy to consider putting in a box or a suitcase.(shipping costs) It's been kind of nice not having a scale around.

  9. Happy birthday to Alexandra!
    I heard it was a lot of fun, Lila had a blast.

    The guacamole looks amazing. o_o
    Thanks for the recipe, I'll try to make it...(who am I kidding? I'll tell my mom, haha...)

  10. I hope she got pictures. And no telling what sort of damage it's done to the poor guy. If he ends up as the reincarnation of Liberace, you'll know why!

    Of course, Kostas seems to have come through it OK. And my nephew shows no sign of loving disco or wearing his shirts open to the naval with big gold chains so maybe it won't do any permanent damage.

  11. Happy belated birthday to charming Alexandra! It sounds like it was a fun party.

    You know, I still haven't even found dried cilantro anywhere, even though some folks told me you could get it at alpha vita. You just can't make good guacamole or salsa without that flavor!

  12. John, Thank you! We did have fun. The guacamole was amazing and I think that your mom will love it too!

    Syd-You know what? I think that we did get pictures of Foti in the outfit because she made me take one. I grumbled as I did it but at the same time I knew that someday it would be a great laugh. Foti will kill us when he's a teen. If I can dig it up I'll post it. That would be fun!

    Mel, Thank you so much! I know, dried cilantro is hard to find and it's never the same without cilantro. My life without cilantro...
    But, I went to Friday's once and ordered the nachos and the salso had fresh cilantro in it. I thought I'd died and gone to heaven that day. :)

  13. Happy Birthday Alexandra! We miss sharing celebrations with you!

    L, P, C, and S

  14. @ 2 Bears...Thank you! We miss sharing all of our celebrations with you as well:( Kisses & Hugs from all of us!