Any of you who have been following my blog for any length of time know that for over 20 years our family lived on a very lean budget. Our family has three birthdays in the month of October, so, today I am going to share our family's frugal birthday tradition that was started 26 1/2 years ago with the birth of our first son, AB.
Years ago, we couldn't have afforded a lavish birthday party and numerous gifts no matter how much we may have desired it. However, we still wanted our children's birthdays to be special and memorable. So, for the past 26 1/2 years we have done the following:
**Birthday parties are limited to only family members.
**Mom and Dad select ONE budget friendly gift for the birthday boy or girl.
**Brothers and sister each give ONE gift. (the littles have a $5 store bought budget or $5 materials budget for homemade & they must use their own money)
**Mom cooks, from scratch the birthday boy or girl's favorite meal.
**Mom bakes the birthday boy or girl their favorite cake.
**We all eat supper together.
**We light the birthday candles and sing while the birthday boy or girl makes a wish and blows them out.
** We open gifts and take photos.
** We enjoy birthday cake and sometimes ice cream.
That's it. Very simple and very frugal. Have our children ever felt like they've missed out by not having a huge party or an excessive amount of expensive gifts? Not to my knowledge. Each of our children have always seemed very excited about their approaching birthdays. Like other children, ours are very eager to let everyone they know their birthdays are approaching and they always seem to have fun and are happy and thankful for their gift(s). The big boys, who are now grown, seem to have fond memories of birthday time around our house. I personally think the key to this is the consistency of the same tradition from year to year and from child to child.
Here's a couple photos from last week's birthday celebrations.
EJ, opening his gift from OG - some new rubber fishing worms and a new lure.
OG making her wish before she blows out the candles on her German chocolate cupcakes.
This year, both EJ and OG requested seafood meals for their birthday suppers. I had some shrimp and crab meat left over and decided to make up a pot of Seafood Etoufee (a creole dish with just a bit of spice). Here's my recipe, if y'all try it I hope y'all enjoy it as much as we do.
1/2 c. all-purpose flour
1 c. onion, diced
1 c. celery, diced
1/2 c. bell pepper, diced
3 large cloves garlic, minced
1/2 tsp. black pepper
1/2 tsp. cayenne pepper
1 tsp. Cajun seasoning
1/2 c. fresh parsley, finely chopped
3 dashes hot sauce
1 small can clam juice
1 pint tomatoes, chopped
1 c. chicken broth (estimated amount)
1 lb. raw, uncooked seafood (shrimp, crab, scallops, fish, creyfish, etc. or any combination)
1/2 stick butter (no substitutions)
3 c. hot cooked rice
3 c. hot cooked rice
green onion, chopped for garnish
In a heavy stock pot or cast iron dutch oven stir together vegetable oil and flour to make a roux, about 20 minutes. (Roux: equal parts oil and flour cooked over medium heat stirring frequently until mixture turns brown and smells nutty. Roux is an essential component of many Creole and Cajun recipes).
Add onion, celery, bell pepper, parsley and hot pepper sauce. Add clam juice and tomatoes. Stir, reduce heat and simmer 15 minutes stirring occasionally. The mixture should be about as thick as stew, if it is thick like gravy stir in enough chicken broth to thin out mixture. Add seafood and stir. After 3-5 minutes (when seafood is cooked through) remove from heat and stir in butter. Serve 1 cup of etoufee over 1/2 cup of hot cooked rice, garnish with green onions.
Makes 6 servings.