Audrey is turning 13 tomorrow and she’s having a little celebration today with her friends — family not invited — and that’s fine by me. I used to be stressed out about her birthday parties when she was younger, racking my brain to come up with ideas that would be fun for her friends, as all of their B-day parties seemed to be such fancy and elaborated productions. There was one year — I think she was turning 5 or 6 — I was away on location and felt very guilty about being absent on her birthday. Peter said that birthdays come every year, and there is no reason to stress out about it. He said that the three of them would just celebrate at home with a cake. I got emotional and made him promise to hire a birthday party organizer to have a big party at the house for Audrey’s entire class. Looking back the whole thing was less about Audrey’s birthday party than about assuaging my own guilt for not being there for my kids.
Now that she is older, she has been organizing her own birthday celebrations — watching a movie or having a sleep-over or going to a restaurant — mostly just spending time with her friends. That’s what’s meaningful for her and that’s how it should be. All the stress inducing, elaborate parties of her early years were absolutely unnecessary. They did not make anyone happier. They were just done to fulfill some phantom expectation. I feared that I would let my children down if they didn’t have the same kind of parties their friends had, and that would somehow damage them for life. I wanted to do all in my power to give them the best of everything that I could muster. I didn’t enjoy parties, and deemed birthday festivities arbitrary. I would rather celebrate the real milestones — their first word recognition, for instance — no matter how little these accomplishments, they were more meaningful than a date on a calendar. If I could do it again, I’d probably have a less anxious attitude about those birthday parties. Alas, hindsight is always 20/20.
Today, I didn’t have to lift a finger. Audrey went with her friends to Union Street and tried out different makeup at Sephora. They then had dinner at Castagna, a French bistro she had chosen to go on Chestnut Street. They are now playing in the basement. Now and then, I hear them laughing, shrieking, but I hardly see any of them. Now they are all quiet, perhaps watching a film. I think they would probably rather have Peter and I go out and leave them alone entirely.
For food, I made blackened fish taco with cabbage mango slaw. Remember the slaw I posted the day before yesterday? In the original recipe it was supposed to go with the fish and they are perfect together.
Blackened Fish taco with Cabbage Mango Slaw
For the cabbage slaw:
3 1/2 cups (1/2 small) red cabbage, shredded fine
1 mango, julienned
1 red jalapeno pepper, seeded and thinly sliced
2 tsp olive oil
1/4 cup cilantro
1/2 tsp kosher salt
1 lime, juiced
For the tacos:
1 tsp smoked paprika
1 tsp kosher salt
1/2 tsp dry mustard
1/4 tsp (1/2 tsp for spicier) ground cayenne pepper
1/4 tsp ground cumin
1/4 tsp ground oregano
1/8 tsp black pepper
1 lb skinless cod or halibut filet
1/2 lime, juiced
8 corn tortillas
lime wedges for serving
1/2 lime, cut into wedges
Combine all the slaw ingredients and refrigerate.
Mix the dried spices and seasoning together in a small bowl, squeeze the lime on the fish then rub the seasoning onto fish.
Heat a cast iron skillet on grill or stove on high heat till really hot. Spray with nonstick oil spray. Cook until opaque in the center and well browned on the outside, about 5 minutes on each side.
Heat the corn tortillas in a steamer with boiled hot water. I turned the stove off after the water boils and put the tortillas on a small plate in the steamer. The steam from the hot water will warm and soften the tortillas.
Divide the fish equally between 4 tortilla and top each with 1/2 cup slaw. Serve with lime wedges.
Adapted from skinnytaste