The Gleeful Gourmand: Happy 4th Birthday Liam!

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Happy 4th Birthday Liam!

Liam turned 4 years old last week! I cannot believe how fast this boy is growing up. We’ve been doing a lot of reminiscing with him about what it was like when he was a baby, and looking over old photos, which he loves to do. I think it’s hard for him to grasp completely that he was ever tiny like his sisters. I love telling him about what a happy baby he was; in fact, I feel so blessed that he and his sisters all have pretty much the same disposition, even though they have slightly different personalities.

When Liam was a baby, well into his first year, we always thought he’d be a very quiet, pensive little boy. He came out looking like a little old man, and continued to look like a little man as he grew. He was often very quiet, and almost always had a concerned look on his face, as if he was trying to figure out the deepest mysteries of the world. He was happy, but pensive. So naturally we thought he would grow up and be the same way: Shy, reserved, pensive, and quiet. Nothing could be further from the truth. His first real word (besides Mama and Dada) was “Horsie” at his 1st Birthday, followed quickly by “Doggie” the very next day. From that point on, he racked up a vocabulary at an astonishing speed, and he never shut up. He became ridiculously outgoing, and a hopeless flirt. If you were a waitress, you would not be able to get away with just saying hello to him. He was going to charm you if it took the entire mealtime. He still has never met a stranger (which can be a good thing, and also kind of a scary thing, since he seems to think absolutely everyone is his friend), and people genuinely seem to gravitate towards him.

These days the thing I cherish most about him is his empathy towards others. If he sees another kid fall down, or hears someone crying, he will be the very first to pipe up and ask them if they’re okay. When we were at the D.C. Zoo last spring, we were looking at the elephants and the adults were talking about the sign that told you how to donate to keep them well maintained. You had to text something on your phone, and that would be the donation. All of a sudden I saw him struggling, and almost crying. “Help me Mommy! Help me with my pocket!!” When I asked him what was wrong, he said he had to get his money in his pocket (some loose change Buck had given him after buying a snack), because he wanted to donate it to help the elephants.

Then last Friday night I was stuck in traffic on my way to visit my friend Liz in D.C. Buck called me on my cell to report that he had left his wallet in the center console of his car – the car I was driving. Whoops. To make matters worse, he had promised Liam that he would take him to his favorite Mexican restaurant for dinner, and Liam was really upset that they couldn’t go because Buck didn’t have any cash, or any of his cards. Buck called me back about 20 minutes later and told me a story that brought tears to my eyes: Liam had suddenly said, “What about my money?” And Buck said, “What money?” to which Liam replied, “The money in my piggy bank.” We give Liam our loose change, and he also gets loose change from his grandparents. We’ve taught him to count it, and put it in his piggy bank. When it’s full, we take Liam to the bank, and deposit most of the money in his savings account. The rest, about $15, he’s allowed to take to Target to spend on whatever he wants. Well, he had about $36 in there Friday, and said emphatically that he wanted to use that to pay for dinner. So off to Coinstar they went, and the rest was Mexican food-fest history, capped off with Sweet Frog frozen yogurt.

It’s these types of moments that melt my heart. I hope that his love for people and empathy will not change as he grows up. He’s not a perfect kid, and we have our fair share of challenges and obstacles. But he’s quite simply the best little guy we know.

For Liam's Birthday dinner, we made his favorite "curly pasta" (we really don't know what else to call it, and have no nifty/special name for it). This is a dish Buck created this summer, and it's so ridiculously good I actually demand it most weeks. I guess I could re-name it a summer pasta, but there are several ways you could make this perfect, even without a grill (notes below).

Buck's Summer Pasta

• One package of your favorite wide German Egg Noodles

• Any favorite sausage, 1 per person (We like the Tuscan pork sausage from Whole Foods)

• 1/2 large vidalia onion, sliced thinly

• 2 or 3 garlic cloves, minced

• Olive oil and butter

• Parmesan cheese, grated (as much as you like)

• 1 green, 1 yellow, 1 red, and 1 orange bell peppers

• Garlic Powder, Pepper

1) Chop bell peppers into large chunks and put into bowl. Drizzle some olive oil over them and sprinkle with Garlic Powder and Pepper. Mix with hands until coated. Place in a vegetable grill pan (meant for the grill), and grill them on high until cooked slightly through and browned on edges.

2) Grill sausages on medium for approximately 10 minutes. When done, slice into 1-inch pieces.

3) Meanwhile caramelize onions in a sauté pan with olive oil and butter, and boil noodles in salted water until al dente. Add minced garlic just after the onions caramelize, heating through for about a minute.

4) Mix noodles, onions and garlic in large bowl with some grated Parmesan cheese (again, as much as you like). Add in bell peppers and sausage, tossing until incorporated. Add more Parmesan and freshly ground pepper to taste.

Notes: Instead of grilling, you could easily sauté the peppers and fry the sausage. The grill just happens to bring out a certain smoky sweetness in the peppers you can't get in a pan. The amounts above make for a lot of pasta, which is great for us because we like to eat it all week. Also, Liam hates bell peppers. For his birthday, we made sure there was everything but the peppers. If you're not grilling, go ahead and rename this dish Buck's Most Stupendously Awesome Pasta.


Anonymous said...

Happy birthday Liam! So very glad that you are in this world with us, for I know that you make it a better place!

Anonymous said...

Oh good grief! MSA athletics is me Kim KW. Dad burn work!

Elizabeth Wilson said...

Yum, can't wait to make some curly pasta, I mean, Buck's Summer Pasta. Happy Birthday to the best 4 year old boy I know!

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