How old is Little Junior, we ask the mother of a babe-in-arms. When a baby is small, their age is counted in weeks. She’s 2 weeks old, or he’s 6 weeks old, the proud mother replies. At some point it becomes months. Six months old or 9 months old or 13 months old. I think that ends at 2 years old, when the child’s age finally becomes measured in years.
It’s really a good thing, because it’s not nearly as adorable to tell you that we celebrated my sister Jen’s birthday on Monday, and she turned 696 months old. Nothing precious about that. But the birthday celebration was lots of fun, no matter how many months old she was.
I think Jen and I have celebrated each other’s birthdays together most of the years since she was born 696 months ago because we have lived close together most of our lives. It’s fun now because Bill and I are in Arizona in late December for my brother’s birthday and in January for my sister Bec’s birthday, so now I’m able to celebrate with my whole family.
Hey, don’t laugh. Birthdays are big deals. I must admit, however, that unlike my grandkids – who will tell you that they are 7 and A HALF or 5 and A HALF, I am perfectly content to omit the half and keep my lower age for as long as I possibly can. You will never hear me tell a single solitary soul that I am 61-and-a-half.
And can I tell you that as much as I enjoy birthdays and birthday celebrations, is there anything more depressing than the day after your birthday? I mean, no gifts, the cake (should there be any left) is day-old and dried out, you find confetti lodged under your kitchen countertops, and you’re a year older. Sigh.
Having said all of that, let me tell you about our celebration.
Bill and I went to Fort Collins and cooked for Jen and her son B.J. at her house. As unlikely as it seems, I actually offered appetizers (something I’m notorious in my family for not remembering to do), and we toasted her birthday with champagne….
….and no, not all three glasses were hers!
I had given her a selection of potential meals from which to choose. Explaining that she was currently on a French food kick (you know, French fries, French dressing, French toast), she chose Chicken au Champagne. I served it with haricot verts and a salad with a lovely sweet and tangy vinaigrette. Ooo la la.
As for her birthday cake, she chose an angel food cake served with whipped cream and toffee chips. Despite Bill’s shock and horror that someone would choose something other than chocolate cake when given the option, he managed to choke down two pieces. Surprise, surprise…..
Chicken au Champagne (adapted from cookingwithcurls.com)
1 T. olive oil
4 – 6 chicken breasts or thighs (skin on, bone-in)
Salt and black pepper to taste
1 large shallot, minced
1 c. Brut Champagne
2 T. butter
1 c. sliced mushrooms
2 T. chopped fresh tarragon
Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
Heat olive oil in a large oven-proof skillet. Season chicken pieces with salt and pepper to taste. Add chicken to skillet, skin side down, and sear until golden brown, about 3 or4 minutes. Turn over and finish searing until other side is browned.
Remove chicken to a plate.
Add minced shallots to the pan and cook until they are softened, about 1 minute. Remove pan from heat and add the champagne. Scrape the bottom of the pan to loosen all of the cooked bits. Place the chicken back into the pan, baste with the champagne sauce and place in the oven. Bake uncovered for 35 to 40 minutes, or until thoroughly cooked.
Meanwhile, heat butter in a large skillet. Add the mushrooms and cook for 5 minutes or until they are softened.
Remove chicken from the oven and add the sautéed mushrooms. Stir in the tarragon. Drizzle with the juice of a lemon.
Serve with noodles or mashed potatoes.
Nana’s Notes: I used a mixture of shitake and oyster mushrooms because that’s what I had in my refrigerator. I’m not fancy, but I had planned on making a meal last week that involved a mixture of wild mushrooms that never got prepared. Any kind of mushrooms will work. I suggest you don’t substitute white wine for the champagne as the flavor will not be the same and a mean Frenchman will come and slap you silly. However, don’t tell that Frenchman, but I didn’t use a French champagne; instead I used a sparkling wine. C’est la vie.
And, by the way, I will be turning 744 months on my next birthday, not even close to the 876 months Bill will be turning in a few weeks.