Wednesday, January 18, 2012


Mulligatawny, mulligatawny, mulligatawny, mulligatawny...
Such a fun word to say :) On my first day on the job at the cafe I worked at through high school, one of my tasks was to stand in the kitchen for 15 minutes and say that word over and over and over again. My boss reasoned that since it was one of their most popular soups she wanted to make sure everyone selling/serving it knew how to say the name properly.
For those of you who are unfamiliar with mulligatawny, it is a soup - or, at least it is in this case. It has a light curry flavor, lamb or chicken meat, peppers, apples and a hit of allspice. Mmmmmmm...
I made it today for supper. We had a friend over with dietary restrictions and this fit the bill for things he could eat. And while it wasn't the roast duck that I had originally invited him over for, I can honestly say I didn't feel like I was missing out.
In my opinion, one of the defining factors of a good dish is that it still tastes as good on the last bite as it did on the second (I won't say first - that's a defining factor of an AMAZING dish). There are lots of dishes, particularly in the chain-restaurant realm, that load up so much flavor, any subtlety or surprise you might have had at first is lost half-way through. Flavors should be layered, teasing and playing - and even if there isn't a mystery ingredient, you should always feel surprised at how well the flavors marry or complement.
And on my last bite of my second bowl of mulligatawny tonight, my tongue still tingled with happiness!
Now comes the let down - I'm not publishing this recipe! I'm sorry! Why? Because it's not mine to share. One day, if I decide to tweak it and make enough changes that I can call it 'mine' I will be happy to publish it, but as it stands, nothing doing. But, I will give you a picture that you can try to deduce off of! I'll give you one last tip - my perfect recipe is a tomato base.
Furthermore, if you know me personally and would like the recipe, give me a call and we can work out a deal, but I by no means have sanction to divulge this trade secret on the world wide web.
So, would anyone care to know what I am scheming for next month? (MATT: if by some freak chance you finally decided to start read my blog, today of all days, stop reading now!!!!!!)

As I was saying, I am scheming! February has two great reasons to scheme in our household: Valentine's Day and Matt's birthday. My Valentines plans are actually quite low-key, which is why I plan on going over-the-top with them. You see, when plans that would originally be low-key are done with enough exuberance, they become fabulous. So what will Valentine's Day look like in our house? Probably pretty similar to a paper explosion. I am making 25 valentines for Matt that I will leave around the house - by his clock, his toothbrush, his coffee mug, his shoes, his work binder, on his windshield... you get the idea. I will also leave him digital Valentines. Texts, alarms set on his phone, facebook messages, etc. While he's at work, the real fun begins. I recently gave up on any idea I ever had of attempting scrapbooking. It's just not me. I tried. I hated. And I'm pretty sure it hated me. Which actually left me with quite a bit of pretty paper left over. So, I am making strands of paper hearts that I will hang in our windows and doorways. Then I'll be making crepe paper rose balls to load the couch with. And of course I'll have hearts drawn in the snow with dyed water. And perhaps some more crayon/wax paper hearts. And I'll maybe even break out the rose petals from our wedding and have those strewn around the house. Whatever I can get done it 8 hours, I will. Oh, and of course the whole day will start off with heart shaped pancakes. And I might make him a heart-shaped sandwich for lunch. And Gabriel will be doing his part making Valentines for Daddy too. Supper will be something simple - I'm not actually sure yet, but I'm confident it will follow the theme.
So while it wasn't plan A, which involved a romantic dinner of lamb chops and mussels, I'm sure it will be fun.
Why didn't I go with Plan A? Well, because I'll need to save my pennies for that weekend, when I'll be throwing a surprise birthday party for Matt!
He's never had a surprise party before and I decided this is the year for it! The name of this game will be convenience - no crazy, fancy, layered desserts for this shindig, mainly because things like that take time, and I won't have much time. In fact, I'll only have an hour and a half to pull off the actual prep for the party. Because I live with Matt (obviously) I can't have decorations laying around in advance, or be whipping up a birthday cake the day before. It just won't fly. And he's not dumb - which is a little bit of a disadvantage for me in this instance. I think though that I have my food for the party planned - and remember, it will all be prepared in an hour and a half. First up will be wings. If the weather is as cold as it has been lately it wouldn't be a push to buy a few packs of wings and keep them in the shed until the party. If outside isn't going to be cold enough then I'll just have to buy them the night before and keep them in a cooler. Next will be pies. Matt loves pie. This one I might outsource since I have a couple friends who are quite gifted, and generous, in the pie-making field. Otherwise, it wouldn't be too conspicuous to keep a few pie doughs in my freezer leading up to the party and put them in the fridge the night before. Matt never pays much attention to what's in the fridge. I'll prep and freeze the fillings in advance too and then just have to roll the dough and fill them on the day of. Done and done. Or, even simpler, I could just make and freeze the whole pie. (Duh! I must be tired...)
The main dish at this shindig is going to be... walk-around tacos! I've seen this idea around, but the gist is that you take an individual baggie of chips (fritos, doritos, tostitos...), break them up and add in taco toppings! Cute, hey? Since I'm anticipating anywhere from 15 - 25 people, this will be easy to throw together, for everyone to have their own and with minimal clean up. It can also be discreet. I always buy my ground beef in warehouse packs so for Matt to see a 5 lbs pack of beef in the fridge would not be unusual.
Since the party will be an afternoon one, I'm not planning on too much more food, except that the party may go late and transition into a poker party, in which place people would be staying for supper. ...At which time we would order pizza.
The funny thing is, I have to hold myself back from doing fancy dishes and hoity-toity appetizers, but I realize that for this crowd and this particular party, wings, pizza and tacos would probably be better appreciated! Crazy, I know, but one of the big things about being a hostess is catering to your guests and ensuring their comfort and enjoyment, and if that means putting down the apron and picking up the phone this time, I guess I can make that sacrifice :)

Mrs. VanderLeek ;)

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