Let’s get one thing straight: I’m not one of those people who makes a big deal about their birthday. All I hope for are phone calls from the folks and my best buddies; a card from Auntie Sandy (by the by Sandy, where the eff is my effing card?); and some white cake with white icing.
I’m telling you this because tomorrow is my birthday and the Beast, who’s been working all day, called to say that we’ll just order pizza tonight. I’m totally fine with this because, like I said, I don’t think my birthday is a big deal. I mean, it’s not like I need a fancy dinner or anything. And after all, I do love pizza.
So I went about my day doing domestic duties, like reading the paper, drinking coffee, laundry and grocery shopping.
I had urges to make specific things: First, acorn squash soup (from a Jaime Oliver recipe in his Jamie at Home book; second, a salmon terrine, which I know sounds so odd, but I read about one in the paper and it sounded interesting (no recipe was included, but how hard can making a terrine be?); and third, banana muffins using my Aunt Pat’s recipe for banana bread, which I think is Edna Staebler’s recipe from Food that Really Schmecks.
It only occurred to me after I’d finished cooking that this triad of dishes had no real common denominator, besides me wanting to make them.
I started with my acorn soup. Jaime said just to cut up the squash and cook it in the stock, but I decided to roast them.
While the acorn squash roasted in the oven, I started with my terrine. I guess the notion of making this struck me because I’ve had two cans of salmon in my pantry for a very long time. I steamed the swiss chard to make the shell.
And I filled her up with a mixture of salmon, boiled Yukon Gold potatos, red onion, celery, fresh dill, lemon juice and olive oil.
I don’t know about you, but when I’m cooking and baking my mind often wonders, usually towards pretty typical stuff, like “Ben Affleck, Matt Damon and I should really work on a script together,” or, “I wonder what I would look like with blonde hair and bangs?” But tomorrow being my birthday and all–even though I like totally don’t care–I started wondering if maybe the Beast has something special planned for tonight, and the ordering of pizza line he fed me was just to make the surprise all the more surprising. Maybe he’ll come home with a present, like a Chanel nail polish, or new slippers! But pizza is fine too.
Anyway, I turned my attention back to the soup, which was dead simple to make: I just had to cook up some onions, celery, carrots, garlic and a red chili, then add some chicken stock, the roasted squash and some fresh thyme.
Maybe the Beast will bring home the complete Northern Exposure box set. That would be nice to watch again this winter. Or maybe he’ll clean the bathroom tomorrow!
Doesn’t matter really. I had muffins to make. Now if you haven’t heard of Edna Staebler, it’s time you did. She wrote the book Food that Really Schmecks, which is based on the time she spent with Mennonites in the Waterloo area in the early 1960s. The recipes are incredible and so is Edna’s story-telling capabilities. I added some almond extract and all-spice to the original recipe. They turned out perfectly.
While the muffins baked I finished off my acorn squash soup by giving it a blitz with the hand-blender.
Then I did some cleaning up and decided to watch that bio-pic on Edith Piaf, La Vie en Rose while I ate some crackers and cheese. The movie makes me want to put on red lipstick, and not shoot up with morphine. The Beast ought to be home any minute now. I can hardly wait for our pizza party. Maybe, if I’m lucky, he’ll bring home one of those frozen McCain’s Deep ‘n’ Delicious cakes.
UPDATE: The Beast got home and told me, “I’m so sorry but we can’t have pizza for dinner because I made reservations at Splendido for 9:30pm!” (Mom, Splendido used to be a very fancy restaurant. It’s still fancy but the original owners sold it to some old-time staffers who made the joint more accessible for people like us. So now a main dish is only, like, $35, as opposed to $40. It’s a perfect solution for dining out during a time of economic strife.)
Are you allowed to wear jogging pants to a fancy restaurant?
To be continued….
AMENDMENT: Aunt Sandy’s card did in fact arrive on time. It was hidden on the Beast’s piano bench under some magazines. Foodie and the Beast regret the error.