A sweet and spicy 16th birthday

The sweetest treat of Molly’s 16th birthday turned out to be a full house. All three of her older siblings turned up for the occasion, which we celebrated, among other things, all weekend long.

Sixteen can signal freedom in this country and a significant mark of passage.  Molly’s brother Vinnie gave a Croatian key chain to celebrate.

Normally, I would mourn the loss of my shotgun passenger at this point in the parental journey. It’s nice to have them actually buckled in next to you every now and then, forced, if not to make eye contact, at least to converse.

As one of the younger members of her junior class, though, Molly hasn’t needed me to do a whole lot of driving recently. She told me, gently, but firmly a good while ago, that she prefers to get rides with friends because, “then you don’t have to wait for me, and I don’t have to wait for you.”

Sound logic, I guess, but I still make the offer, sensing our summer as mom and daughter is turning to fall and our chatting time becoming more precious.

I leaned into her birthday meal this year for two Molly related reasons: 1) I hardly ever get to putter around the kitchen any more as she staked her claim years ago and 2) She asked for grilled fish tacos and she wanted to eat at home.

(One of the downsides of having an avid cook in the house is that she rarely wants to go out for dinner.)

As it turns out, fish tacos are pretty easy to make. The hardest part turned out to be keeping Molly out of the kitchen. For as pretty as they are, pickled onions are very low maintenance. I used Bobby Flay’s marinade for the fish, and added chopped cabbage and a mango salsa.

The meal turned out to be just right for our brand new  but always sweet 16-year old. Happy birthday Molly B, from me.

Mango Salsa

1 ripe mango, peeled and chopped

1 large tomato, chopped

1 clove garlic, pressed

1 medium sweet onion, chopped

1/2 Jalapeno seeded and diced (You can put more in. I’m a big chicken when it comes to Jalapenos)Mix

Kosher salt to taste

Pepper to taste

1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar

Juice from 1/2 lime

Mix it all together and let it rest. That’s it. Easy peasy!

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The best part of her 16th birthday was that she got to hang around with these guys. We kicked off the weekend at Lambeau Field.
The whole gang
Along with her siblings, Molly enjoyed hanging out with cousins, aunts, uncles and her grandma on Friday night at Lambeau.
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Saturday night, Molly whipped up some homemade pizza crust at our cabin, and everyone pitched in for a variety of grilled pizzas. Very tasty.
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I wasn’t sure exactly how I was going to use all of these ingredients. but I thought they made a pretty picture. The pickled onions took about 10 minutes of prep (apple cider vinegar, sugar, salt and garlic cloves) and a couple of hours of marinating. I used the mango, tomatoes, garlic and onions in the salsa, which also included a splash of apple cider vinegar) I added jalapenos too, but I’m kind of stingy with those.
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Charlie gave Molly a French coffee press for her birthday, and, in return, Molly gave Charlie a Croatian hug.
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This meal tasted so much better than it photographed. I was hungry, that’s my plate, and there you go. Fish tacos (I used salmon for some, talapia for others) turned out to be a perfect summer Sunday meal.

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