(Taken by Kurt)
So my party went well, I think. It was my first party as an adult, and the first time since I turned 21 that I had done anything at all for my birthday, aside from going out to dinner with Kurt halfway between our respective birthdays. On my 21st birthday, my roommate Cristina threw me a surprise party, but as I recall, it was just cake and present-opening and was over rather quickly. That was the year I received an Elvis clock that featured his swinging hips as the pendulum from my good friend Scuzzle. As if that weren’t a cool enough gift in itself, he wrapped it quite beautifully in aluminum foil and even fashioned a bow out of foil as well. It was seriously amazing work.
What made my day really special were the people that turned out for it. My good friends Andrea and Brian drove from Maine to stay with us this weekend, though I really wish they could have stayed longer so I could have showed them around Newport. But they’ll be back again, and we’ll be able to plan better for their visit. I can’t wait to see them again, though maybe we should head up to Maine to explore of New England. These people are the kindest, most genuine, and pleasant people I can think of. Plus they love Grace and ME, so they have to be good folks.
And my friend Angela, with whom I’ve been friends for the last twelve years, came down from Boston with her boyfriend too. Sometimes it seriously boggles my brain that she and I have been friends for so long. It seems like just yesterday we were in Professor Fraser’s freshman seminar on science fiction in Spanish. If I don’t put any thought in it, I think that we’ve been friends just a few years, but then I really put some brain power into it and realize it’s twelve years — my entire adult life. She’s seen me through so much — from my first awkward year in college through our good times at the sci-fi club to my getting together with Kurt. We sort of lost touch while I lived in Washington, which tends to happen when you move all the way across country, but once I moved to Rhode Island, it was like we’d never been apart.
I love friendships like that.
I guess my friends really know me too! For my birthday I received both makeup and cookbooks — two of my absolute favorite things! My friend Julie got me a “Cooking With All Things Trader Joe’s” cookbook which features gorgeous photos, and it looks like it has some really delicious recipes.
But a major kudos goes out to my good buddy Elle, who scored major points with me for sending me this title:
That, dear friends, is a cookbook put out by the Junior League of Lafayette, Louisiana, and as such contains true Cajun recipes. What I love the most about it is it spans forty years, so there are some pretty dated recipes. Some don’t even give measurements, and the instructions can be somewhat vague.
For example: this recipe for Soy Sauce Rump Roast. “Rub salt, celery salt, paprika, black pepper and garlic salt (not much) or onion salt into a rump roast. Then cover the roast with soy sauce. Let brown at 400 degrees then turn down to 250 degrees. Add water to pain; drip sauce over roast at least twice and baste the roast with water and soysauce. If you want to barbecue the roast, marinate in soy sauce for a couple of hours before.”
Another thing that amuses me greatly is the fact that most of the contributors are signed as their husbands’ names, like Mrs John Smith. Occasionally you’ll find a Jane Smith, but not often.
And the flavors! There are some seriously delicious-looking recipes in here, don’t get me wrong. But some are definitely dated, like the several variations on tomato aspic (an easy aspic, a shrimp aspic, a tomato aspic with deviled egg, and another with seafood). I guess many years ago molded salads were referred to as “congealed,” as in “shrimp congealed salad,” but I wouldn’t want to eat anything that had “congealed” in the name.
But the best part of the cookbook is there is an entire section devoted to gumbo. It starts out with how to make a proper roux and then goes into many, many variations of gumbo. Duck and sausage gumbo, duck and guinea gumbo, wild goose gumbo with oysters, goose gumbo, green gumbo, chicken gumbo filé, chicken and oyster gumbo, chicken gumbo with sausage and oysters, chicken okra gumbo, shrimp and okra gumbo, okra gumbo, and seafood gumbo. It reminded me of the part in Forrest Gump where Bubba details all the different ways of how to make shrimp.
I guess I better start honing my Cajun cookin’ skills!