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Friday, March 5, 2010

Big Weekend, Big Birthday, Big Beans

As adults, we don't get to choose our birthdays. Not consciously anyway. But some of us, a proud few, go through life with some event that eventually becomes our "other birthday." We all know someone who has had a near death experience and celebrates the first day of the rest of their life. Well, I'm one of those people. Except, literally, I have a second birthday. March 7, 2005. 

Which makes Sunday my 5th birthday.

This blog is devoted to the food and drink side of me, and I don't want to deter too far from that. So instead of giving you all the details, I'll just tell you that I had a stem-cell transplant for lupus in 2005, and have been in remission almost ever since. I am wildly healthy, and I consider the day I "got" my stem-cells to be my birthday. (Actually, this is pretty common amongst anyone who's gone through the process.) If you have questions beyond that, feel free to ask me in the comments. I'm not shy about anything, I just don't need to overshare, especially on such a "hot button" topic. 

So, why talk about it here at all? Well, because in true me form, J and I are throwing a party to celebrate. No, not a kegger. Just a small gathering of some of our really good friends, and my brother and his boyfriend who are here for the weekend to celebrate with us. Each year, post-transplant, I've gone to Chicago to see the doctors (actually twice a year for the first 2 years.) The 5th year is the final one, meaning Monday should be the last time I hear the words Pulmonary Function Test (among many other clinical terms) again! Awe yeah! Honestly? This day is more exciting and meaningful for me than my "actual" birthday, and so it only seemed right to celebrate this monumental milestone day with a bash! 

Instead of spending the day slaving away (which you know I'd love to do, but I have to be at the shop) we've just asked everyone to bring a heavy appetizer like dish to share, and a bottle of something fantastic to drink. What will I be drinking? Cava, of course. I'm a sparkling girl through and through, and it's not often a celebration happens with me NOT having a glass of bubbly in my hand. But more importantly, I know you all want to know what I'm MAKING, and here it is. Blackened string beans.

For any of you that are from or have ever been to Saugerties, NY, you know about New World Home Cooking. The restaurant's owner and Executive Chef, Ric Orlando, is a staple in our area, and a world-class chef. One of his signature dishes are the Blackened String Beans, and I recently scoured the internet looking for the recipe. Shockingly enough, there it is, right on their website. 

I made these for dinner with friends in January, and they were a huge hit. I made them again for my parents when we were in NY, and again, raves. I've changed the recipe a TINY bit just to accommodate the things that are generally in my house and to make the accompanying Remoulade a little creamier. But these suckers go quick--I bought 4lbs of beans for Saturday night!

Ric suggests making his recipes verbatim the first time, and then jam away, so I'm going to encourage you to try these the way his recipe states, first. I promise to post a picture and my version next week, along with any other fabulous dishes my friends make for this party. (I hear tales of a gorgeous chocolate cake made by the lovely Lisa.)

So I'll post pictures and recipes next week, when I'll be 5 years old. Most of me anyway.



  1. a VERY happy 5th Jill...whatever anyone's take on this topic, how can one not be glad for this result! definitely worth a sparkly celebration. -jzb. ps: the more I read your blog the more certain I am that we must have been related in a former life. =)

  2. Thanks JZB. Really appreciate it. And I had that same feeling the first time we met, seriously. :)