The donut committee agreed to have dinner again Tuesday. The menu was entirely born of what I had enough of on hand to feed a few people. I had unused pie crust, a big bag of tortilla chips, a block of cheddar cheese, and a lot of lard. Bear Face requested something with sweet potatoes, and Betty Deville wanted to make a mixed drink concoction with cilantro simple syrup. I decided to use the cilantro to pull everything together. The menu was:
- Brasa pulled pork and cheese nachos (made by me and Pretty Boy)
- Refried beans with lard and cilantro (me)
- Mexican Rice (Betty Deville)
- Cilantro-Lime Sweet Potato Salad (me)
- Guacamole (Betty Deville)
- Peach Salsa (store bought by Pretty Boy)
- Cilantro-Lime Beergaritas (Betty Deville)
- Lime Yogurt Tart (me)
Though everything was very tasty, I could really tell that the meal had been cobbled together. It just seemed a little disjointed. Or maybe I was a little disjointed that night.
Bear Face ended up canceling last minute, so we had to switch the dinner location and were down one of our usual member. The Mojo Monster flew in, grabbed a plate of food, and flew back out mid-meal. We finally were able to get our dancer friend to come visit, but she showed up after an exercise class later in the evening and mostly just came for the pie shakes (Pie shakes!? What!? Keep reading.) Meal seemed forced; company was sporadic; I was disjointed. The food was still great and I love my tribe, but it just wasn’t up to our usual standards.
The nachos turned out really good but then, how can you go wrong with Brasa pulled pork? My refried beans were made from Asian beans in a rice cooker and the resulting texture was not quite how I like it. I usually use fresh beans which produce the best texture and flavor.
The sweet potatoes salad used Asian sweet potatoes and was so pretty looking I almost couldn’t stand it. But again, while the potatoes were high quality, my dressing just wasn’t up to my usual standards. The yogurt-mousse tart was disappointing and I think I am going to trash the recipe, mostly because I seem incapable of following it exactly and because there are much better options out there. The highlight of the meal for me was watching with Pretty Boy as Betty Deville showed us how to toast flour tortillas on a gas burner without lighting them on fire and then use them to pick up bits of rice and beans. Pretty Boy was also a huge fan of the beergaritas.
We ended the meal with pie shakes. Betty Deville was a little apprehensive about the concept of pie shakes and understandably so: something about too much of a good thing. But we were too curious to let that stop us. I had made a particularly tart mixed berry pie that was prefect for this application. Slice of pie, two scopes of ice cream, and a splash of milk. Zip the blender a few times and: Pie Shake! I think Pretty Boy and I liked it the most. I loved the little crunchy, salt pops from the crust. Betty Deville and our dancer friend expressed mild approval but not much more. The Mojo Monster was not a fan. It might be an instance were personal preference signifigantly influences final opinion. I love chunks in my ice cream and especially anything crunchy, like waffle cone bits. Mojo Monster is an ice cream purist: she likes a high quality straight vanilla. It makes sense why we felt the way we did about the pie shake. Conceptually, the pie shake also had a lot to live up to. While I felt it did a pretty good job of living up to the expectations, I can see how others would not.
I think the whole evening was a cosmic message about forcing things to happen when they aren’t supposed to happen. I was too tired and stressed out that night but had agreed to have dinner and decided I wanted cook things. Instead of declining dinner or trying to change the date, I pushed through because it felt like I had no other choice since I already committed. As a result, the evening wasn’t as stellar as it might have been if we tried to do it another night. Bear Face had it right: he didn’t come because of his demanding work schedule and was too worn out.
So, I will cook things when really exciting recipes or ideas or produce comes my way, not because I think I have to. Every eating and cooking opportunity has such potential to be outstanding and for me to really showcase my love of cooking and food, but that doesn’t mean I have to cook something every time there is a dinner.
And look at me taking my own advice: our latest committee meeting was not at my house and I was not organizing the menu. I was instructed to bring fruit salad. I didn’t have time to run around to a bunch of different stores and markets to get special, outstanding, seasonal produce like I wanted to because I didn’t have the time. Instead, I bought a tub of fruit salad from a deli, and it was perfect and I thoroughly enjoyed the meal and evening.