Back in the spring, Abby and Mollie’s swim group came up with a plan … as a goal-setting and team-building exercise for the long course season, their coach would record their attendance and the amount they swam at every practice. That “mileage” would be translated into distance between European cities. So in other words, the kids would earn the distances through practice attendance and “Swim through Europe.” The reward, every two weeks, would be a get-together dinner at someone’s house, and the food would celebrate the country they had just “arrived” in.
Abby and Mollie, and their best friends John and Tory conspired and brainstormed in the car on the way home from practice one morning and decided on the six cities that the kids would swim to over the course of the next few weeks. There was much debate and note-taking. They discussed the foods that could be brought, likes and dislikes. In the end, they came up with an exciting and very diverse list.
Bangkok (which, in their mind was going to represent all Asian food, not just Thai)
I volunteered to host the beginning of their journey in Paris, and tonight was supposed to be the night. Despite the kids’ exuberance and excitement about this plan, various summer vacations and other plans got in the way and the party fell through. The kids and the coach were very disappointed, but … such is life sometimes.
However, since I had volunteered to host the Paris night, and I’d already planned the menu for the week, I’d already bought the ingredients for the main dish. I admit I had to scramble a bit for side dishes for tonight, since the original plan was for others to bring the sides, desserts and the cheese tray, but at least I had the main dish figured out.
Tonight, we are having Boeuf Bourguignon.
I have at least three French cookbooks, one of which is completely legit, right down to the fact that everything is measured in grams and liters. I scoured every single one, reading and reading, trying to find a balance between ease and taste, ingredients and cost. In the end, I used Ina’s recipe, because 1. the ease is definitely there (cooks mainly in the oven) 2. I know her stuff tastes good and 3. I had everything for it. It is in my oven right now, finishing its brilliant self. I need only add the mushrooms when I get home, and I know it will taste good because every kid has asked me, “What is that yummy smell?”
Even Lucy, who doesn’t eat meat.
After walking in from morning practice and lessons, she exclaimed, “Oh my gosh, what is that? I bet it has meat in it which means I can’t have any, right?”
“Yes,” I answered with a twist of my mouth and squint of my eyes. “It has beef and bacon … sorry.”
Whenever I make something like this, something that Lucy can’t even come near, I try to make it up to her by having great sides. In this case, I will not fail her. We are also having creamed cauliflower (instead of mashed potatoes) and a vegetable gratin, both staying with our French theme.
Dessert, however is pure American.
Oh yeah … I’m going there.