My gentleman friend will not be visiting this weekend, due to an overwhelming work-related schedule. As much as I pine to see him, I will utilize his absence to catch up on my own "stuff," and prepare for my next crock-pot venture, homemade menudo, made complete with beef tripe, pigs' feet, serrano chili, and all manner of intriguing spices. Drawing confidence from my recent beginner's success in cooking, I hope this dish will be an impressive surprise for him.
During a break in my work day yesterday, I went to the Vallarta Supermarket in North Hollywood. Along with the kindness and courtesy of the staff, I appreciated the various aromas--novel to me--as I stepped through the front door. I got what nonperishable ingredients I could, and used the opportunity to scope out the meat counter. I will know, next weekend, just where to find the 3 pounds of tripe, and what the pigs' feet look like before I ask the butcher to chop them into small, casserole-sized pieces. Because Mom is not the most adventuresome soul, I plan to serve it up, telling her this is a "Mexican stew," and only give details on the ingredients if she presses me.
The same anticipation goes for Thanksgiving. This is my first time "doing Thanksgiving," albeit with help from relatives pitching in with various courses. Originally, I'd wanted to be fully heretical and serve roast beef in lieu of turkey, but my gentleman friend talked me out of this; besides, I think my son's in-laws are hard-core traditional enough that they would be sorely disappointed without "the bird." Honestly, though, I'm not much of a turkey fan.
Okay, if I can't get my way about the main course, I'll be deviant in other ways. Instead of the run-of-the-mill, store-bought stuffing, I've found several fresh ideas from food.com, like a stuffing with apple, celery, and a number of spices; or one with sausage. It's the family style to always go with "what we've always done," and I want to make some appealing changes. The green bean casserole can make way for one with other vegetables, for visual as well as taste appeal. Plain old biscuits, begone, and make way for tomato-and-bell-pepper bread.
I've heard many people say that Thanksgiving, a holiday to joyously celebrate family, is so often turned into drudgery. Me, I want to see how fun it can be.