Friday, January 13, 2012

Baking for Gemma's Birthday


This week my sweet, beautiful girl turned 10 on January 11th. I was reminded by my dear friend Nancy, not only was it the day my daughter was born, but it was the day that I first became a Momma! I honestly had never thought of it that way and it made the day all the sweeter for me. Thank you so much Nancy for giving me the opportunity to think a little bit deeper about January 11th.

This week I have been under the weather and not feeling like doing much of anything, but laying in bed and reading a book. We all seemed to contract the same bug while we were in Thailand and then pass it around the house. I really had to push myself this week to get the job done when it came to the all the birthday preparation that I was doing in the kitchen for my dear Gemma girl, but so far I didn't disappoint her.

Her first request, which she made last year, was that we would do something special the day before her birthday to celebrate her last day as a single digit. She made the decision to stay at home and to pick any meal she would like to have on her birthday cooked by yours truly. I made her favorite dish of lemon chicken, broccoli, and rice. This recipe is a Western-style dish although it sounds very Chinese which was made with chicken breast pan fried in a lemony sauce. This was an old stand by recipe from the early years before we had kids and since we have not been eating very much meat, especially chicken, in our house I was a little rusty in making this. The chicken turned out quite tender, but luckily the kids didn't notice I forgot the chicken stock in the recipe. Oops!

On the day of her actual birthday Gemma requested that I make homemade lemon bars and deliver them to school for her classmate to share. I used Ina Garten's recipe, which is a family favorite both here and back in Nebraska. I highly recommend this recipe if you are a connoisseur of anything lemon and especially love extremely tart tasting desserts. I was so surprised that all but one of Gemma's classmates finished the lemon bar. I thought for sure they would be way to sour. I had one boy say to me that "they taste like Skittles" which I first was offended, but then realized it was more of a compliment.

I had a couple days off from preparing birthday dinners/treats, so I had a couple meals out, but that is for a different post with a couple new restaurant reviews.

We found a great idea for a birthday party for Gemma last year and decided to give it a shot for her big double digit birthday. She absolutely loves to sing and dance, so what better thing to do in a city with a gazillion KTV (karaoke) bars, give her her dream party. I had Jonny check out the KTV and see if we could find a room large enough to squeeze 25 screaming children into. We were happy to find out that we could have the party early in the afternoon to avoid the busy time where business men and scantily clad women came after their business dinners.

The next step was to ask Gemma what she wanted for a dessert. She immediately said "lemon meringue pie". I about choked when she said it. I just kept thinking of all the crusts I would have to make and how ugly they would all be! I told her that yes, I could make 2 pies, but it would probably only feed 12 people, so she would have to pick something else. By the end of the week I was at my wits end with the thought of making the pies and I had to let her down. I tried to talk her into lemon cheese cake, which is one of my specialties. She didn't want to serve that because most of her friends do not like cheesecake. One of the problems living in Asia, most Asian do not like cheese! I told her that I would make Christine Tosi's Milk Bar Crack cookies (Not really the name, but I have read so many people online refer to these cookies as 'crack' and the corn flake crunch alone is enough to give you an immediate addiction!) and she could pick something else too.

I made the crack cookies a little small this time. They are supposed to be massive, but the amount of butter and sugar plus the number of kids attending the party made me decide that the smaller the cookie the less sugar they would ingest which would keep me saner at the party. Here is a photo of the crack!


Gemma then decided that she wanted a lemon poppyseed cake from the Hummingbird Bakery cookbook. I had never tried it, but usually I have the good luck that things turn out the first time. The good thing was that the cake turned out, but the bad thing was that it was way too small to feed the army of kids that were coming to celebrate Gemma's big day. Therefore I had to make a second cake.


Here is the first of the two cakes I ended up making. I will glaze it in the morning and hopefully I have have a very happy 10 year old tomorrow!

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