Source for this image here.
We had such a lovely day on our birthday celebration day! God blessed us with beautiful weather, and somehow everything went so smoothly that although we were very busy, it didn't feel that way and none of us were tired by the end of our special day.
We visited a favourite countryside location that we like to go to at this time of year. It is the country park of a large stately home that has several different walks which you can take - some that lead you around a beautiful natural lake, and others that wind through many acres of woodland - some deciduous, some evergreen. At any time of year it is a wonderful place to walk and feel close to nature, but at this time of year especially so, with all the lovely autumn scenery and scents. Here is a picture of where we went, that I found on Wikimedia. Right in the foreground of the picture, bottom left, you can see the edge of a fence post, that marks the boundaries of the lake. We walked through the woods on the other side of this. The weather was just perfect - and I'm so glad we were able to enjoy a light picnic lunch outside - probably the last time we shall do so now, until next spring!
When we got back it was birthday present opening time! We enjoyed that very much indeed and oh, didn't everyone spoil us this year! I am sure I got twice as many presents as I did last year! I won't list all the wonderful gifts that I got, but they are all things that I am thrilled with, and which will bring me much pleasure and enjoyment - and relaxation too! Papa Bear was equally delighted with his presents which I was just as happy about - giving gifts is definitely every bit as much fun as receiving them. I'm so glad he liked them all!
We enjoyed a delicious meal in the evening with the cubs and Grandmama Bear. We had a "Tex-Mex" first course, and then a delicious creamy cake that Grandmama Bear made! When I do a Mexican style meal (I'd love to try real proper Mexical food- here in our corner of the world it isn't easy to come by, but maybe one day we shall be able to enjoy some) I like to try to prepare the dishes so that I can set them all out separately, which means that everyone can help themselves to whatever they like most of all, and it all looks very pretty and appetising. Imagine how excited I was when I was undoing my presents earlier on, and discovered six adorable wee china bowls in the shape of autumn leaves! They were from Cubby Bear. Thank you sweet Cubby! I love them - they are so pretty and were perfect for our meal on Saturday. Along with them Little Bear also gave me the most beautiful wooden apple-shaped serving bowl and a carved wooden salad dish with matching servers, so our table looked really lovely and autumnal, especially with my autumn dinnerware set!
This is the main dish that we enjoyed on Saturday - it is a Taste of Home tortilla dish that can be adapted very easily to suit your tastes. As I say above I like to set out all the separate components so that people can have as much or as little as they like to suit their own tastes.
I start by making a chilli style base for the tortillas by sauteeing a couple of onions with a chopped red pepper and a chopped green pepper and a small green chilli, deseeded sliced finely. To this I add some garlic paste and tomato puree, 2 cans chopped tomatoes and then about 5 cups mixed, cooked beans. I season this with coriander and chilli powder, then simmer well for about 40 minutes.
To serve, I warm through flour or corn tortillas (we are trying to cut down on the amount of wheat we are eating, so as we were having cake for dessert, we had corn tortillas this time around). In separate dishes I set out sliced jalapenos, olives, grated cheddar, shredded lettuce, soured cream, sliced tomatoes, sliced avocado, salsa and fresh coriander leaves. It's a fun way to eat as we can all sit together around the table and help ourselves, and most of this dish apart from the warmed tortillas can be prepared well in advance, which is a great advantage when you are sharing a celebration meal for a special occasion. We also had salad with this dish.
Grandmama Bear made the cake, a traditional Italian style birthday cake. Essentially this cake is a light vanilla flavoured sponge cake with ground hazelnuts and ricotta cheese in it, which lends a light, delicate texture to the cake. It has many layers (ours had 4) which are sandwiched with a sweet, creamy frosting that sometimes has mascarpone cheese in it. This year it was chocolately too - yum! We all enjoyed that. You can find a similar recipe for the cake that we enjoyed here.
Afterwards we had a wee bit of a party with music and dancing, then we settled down to watch a film. We were all very sorry when our special day had come to an end! But our celebrating isn't quite finished just yet - next week it is Papa Bear's birthday proper, so we have one more special day to look forward to! On that day I expect we shall have another special meal - with his favourite birthday apple caramel cake for dessert. Do you think we'll have any appetite by then, after our lovely meal this weekend? Yes, of course we will!