My husband’s birthday request is that I cook dinner for his birthday. This year he wanted a dinner featuring lamb shank. That spelled trouble. After planning the menu, I called the three closest grocery stores. All three have the basics of this abundant food nation from rotisserie chicken to frozen pizza, but my spoiled, some say near
snooty food preferences, have not easily found some basics: Chinese Five Spice, tomato paste in a tube, or fresh bean sprouts. By phone I located a lamb shank twelve miles away.
The morning of his birthday was the first meeting of a writing critique group I wanted to join. Not because I want a critique group. They are great at the right time, but I don’t have the writing I want critiqued right now. The reason I wanted to go is I need acquaintances so in time I will have friends. I call these ventures into human stranger territory, “Collecting Friend Spores.” I left the house 75 minutes ahead of start time.
Six writers of varying age above forty were in attendance. We went around the circle until all four women and two men had their work critiqued. It was a good group which means they are excited about their work, diverse in style, and ready to improve. But the round-trip was over 120 miles. In a city of about six million, there should be people closer to me, don’t you think?
Happy birthday, Sam! I was happy to be home and turn my thoughts and action to the day’s main event of dinner.
Stuffed mushrooms / Recipe below
Grilled Scallops in Remoulade Sauce (made possible by two leftover scallops from night before)
Hearts of Palm Salad (looks too similar to scallops to be eye-appealing, but at least they were different courses)
Main Course Served with Medoc Wine
Carrots in Butter and Triple Sec with Pistachios / Recipe below
Stuffed Mushrooms From George Washington Ate Here! by T. Upton Ramsey. Upton was a friend of Sam’s in a raucous group called the Salt Shakers. They were ribbon-cutting entrepreneurs who welcomed new businesses through the Salt Lake Chamber of Commerce.
My abridged version for two people instead of six: Mushrooms, butter, cream cheese, bleu cheese, minced onion, fine herbs.
Remove mushroom stems, melt butter, saute mushroom caps about two minutes, mince stems, and add rest of ingredients. (I used handy Italian Herb Mix.) Fill caps, broil until bubbly.
Pistachio Carrots From Cooking in the Nude by Debbie and Stephen Cornwell. This little sixty-one page, dog-eared recipe booklet was given to Sam and me by my mother when our son went to college.
Steam 8-10 baby carrots until crisp tender. Melt 2 T butter and saute pistachios two minutes. Add Tripe Sec, remove from heat, add carrots, toss.
Happy birthday Sam!