It’s here again. The day flower shops and chocolatiers await anxiously each year. The day millions of happy couples cherish. The same day millions of singletons dread. The largest commercialized day of love that exists… Valentine’s Day.
I generally spend Valentine’s day at home, with my someone special, indulging in a gourmet, homemade meal. Tonight, however, we’re giving in to society. I’m being treated to a tasty (I hope!) dinner at The Farmhouse Tap and Grill, a restaurant we’ve been dying to check out in Burlington. Then we’re headed to the movies to see the new Tom hanks film. Due to the high prices of theater tickets and our low incomes, we rarely see movies while they’re still at the theater. Thank to DealChicken’s “2 movies, 2 popcorns, 2 sodas for $20” deal, we’re finally going to get there! (For those of you that do not subscribe to DealChicken, JumpOnIt or Groupon, I highly suggest it. I’ve found some fantastic deals).
Dustin and Emily
I’ve been pretty busy in the kitchen since my last post – cranberry orange pancakes, old-fashioned doughnuts, beef and broccoli, baked doughnuts, daube provencal, three-layer mousse cake, hint-of-orange brownies, cashew chicken, and dry-fried beef. As soon I get the pictures figured out, I’ll share these delectable edibles with you!
I do have to share with you right now, however, the wonderful event that took place at our home on Sunday. Dustin turned 23 Sunday, and to celebrate, I offered to cook up whatever he desired. He asked for a Daube Provencal, a French stew made with beef, olives, mushrooms, red wine, and tomatoes. I invited some of our friends over to help celebrate. I’ve been wanting to host a fancy dinner party for… forever. I’ve always wanted to, and now that I have, I want to do it again. And again. And again. I spend all of Sunday cooking up a storm. The kitchen was a disaster. A complete chaotic fiasco. I used nearly every dish in the house. All the cutting boards were strewn about. Food littered the counters. Dishes were piled high in the sink. Craziness. Thank goodness Dustin wasn’t home to witness the process. He’d have freaked. (For those of you that don’t know the kid, the kitchen’s gotta be spotless before he attempts to cook in it. We’re talking OCD clean. Aaaand, he keeps it that way, the ENTIRE time he’s in the kitchen. Me? I start off clean… End of story).
So, Daube Provencal – porchini muschrooms, nicoise olives (frickin expensive!), an entire bottle of cabernet, tomatoes, chuck-eye beef, anchovies, carrots, onions, thyme – different, but delicious. We picked up some tasty bread from Red Hen Bakery (Middlesex, VT) to accompany the dish. A total success.
The stew made the house smell fabulous. The second you stepped through the door you were greeted with the scent of greatness. While the stew was, well, stewing, I set up a lovely table for six. I had so much fun. Candles in wine bottles, folded napkins, plates and bowls and silverware, water-jugs made from beer growlers, wine glasses, water glasses – the works. I was elated, to say the least. My day got even better when the Triple-layer chocolate mousse cake I crafted set perfectly. I mean p.e.r.f.e.c.t. I was literally jumping around the kitchen with a big grin on my face. Boy do I wish I had video of that. Talk about a happy girl. That was me.
I have had so many bad cake experiences. Last year’s birthday cake for Dustin was a disaster. It tasted fine, but looked like a pile of crap. Piles of crap don’t appeal to many. I worked so hard to make this cake special. I watched the oven like a hawk, beat the egg-white until I was sure soft peaks were really soft peaks, kept things refrigerated when they weren’t in use. Anything I could do to enhance the quality of the cake, I did. And? It paid off. The cake was rich, with only a few tough souls able to eat an entire piece. But oh boy was it good. Pictures will follow. Maybe tomorrow. If I’m feeling technically adventurous.
Be on the lookout for pics of the birthday bash!