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Each year when I celebrate my birthday, one of the things I love most is to conjure in the kitchen for the loved ones who have gathered on my behalf. I know it seems a little backwards, me being the birthday girl, but I want it that way. And princess gets what princess wants. Sometimes, though, I get a little, well…bent out of shape.

But I love being in the kitchen. It’s where I feel most at home. (An aside: At any sort of social function, you will find me trying to jockey my way into a role of importance in the kitchen. I need to be of use. I like to avoid small-talk. Enough said.) I just like a close proximity to food and to the few tools I require to transform it. The potential which exists there and the millions of prospective wonders that lie in wait are almost as delicious as what is delivered after the workspace has been rendered a terrible mess….which happened a lot that weekend.

I’d venture that one of the top three most successful culinary endeavors of mine was Saturday’s dessert. I composed the whole shebang on my own, I’m a little too pleased to say. It all began with a bag of arborio rice I had in my freezer at home which I decided to stick in my luggage at the last minute. Pears, red wine and pistachios are something one should always have on hand, so that was a no-brainer. I do have Giada to thank for the easy-as-pie…or pudding…recipe for the pudding. (The only variance was that I used Cointreau instead of rum.) The pudding was chilled (on the back porch, old school style), then dished up and accompanied by citrus and Merlot-poached pears and, for some needed crunch, a very original pistachio and black pepper brittle (which I also created, sans-recipe).

It…was…sumptuous. No one really spoke while we ate. It could have been that we were exhausted from a long day of doing nothing and the rousing snowball fight we’d had beforehand, and it could have been just me, but I like to believe we were just silenced by the sweetly sublime.

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