Lately, my Bear and I have been trying to have over friends more often, hopefully once a week, to cook, eat, play video games, talk, and (one of my motives) have mini photo shoots. The last two weeks have been nothing short of amazing!
It all began with Valentine's Day. Our good friends Patchie and The Boy were at the bar with us and we got to talking about the big fat love day (at the time, it was a little more than a month away). We discussed the annoying commercials, the jewelry store jingles that get on your nerves, the cheap chocolates that are overpriced and flowers and mostly, the impossible waiting list at restaurants.
We happen to live in a suburb off of the DC/Baltimore area that is comprised of a few things: McDonald's (usually situated across the street from another McDonald's), other fast food chains, chain restaurants of the sit and eat persuasion, mom and pop restaurants, bars and small sandwich shoppes and the like. Occasionally, there are chain stores like WalMart and Target, a couple thrift stores (where my patronage lies), lots of mass jewelry establishments (all of which are within a mile of a sister store), and other places to spend money. We also happen to have a lot of beautiful parks and things, but that's a different story. Anyway, in such a location of a million choices for that V-Day dinner, it's a mystery to me how we have the population to keep lines as long as they get. But we live in no-chefs land. So there's that.
We were whining about the holiday madness, the financial state of affairs (thanks, economy. Bite me), and such when our other friends Katietron and Kyle joined the conversation. Not sure who originated the idea, but it was a combination of this, my goal to learn to cook (and distance myself from the other no-chefs of this place), and Patchie and Katietron's love of cooking that eventually led to the dinner plan.
Bear and I have an apartment of our own (as in, we rent it from his folks, but it does have our art on the walls, and that's what counts!), so we decided to host the event. I immediately began searching for activities and DIY photo backdrops for classy couples portraits. I have never been very domestic, but I cleaned like I was a Merry Maid for this event, and finally found the perfect backdrop option. I may or may not have had to hypnotize the Bear to help me construct an indoor tent out of string, safety pins, red sheets, red and white scrap fabric, and white lace, festooned with twinkle lights. In any case, we managed to erect this really awesome love tent. I may have to admit that I jumped inside and began singing Love Shack while giggling. It may have happened.
The lighting was a simple flood light clipped to a chair off camera right, allowing for a more dramatic approach than my usual natural or available light technique. I really liked the results (and learned a bit about metering by approximation, as in, I need to invest in a good digital light meter).
The Valentine's menu was amazing, consisting of Patchie's breaded pork chops (which were totally drool worthy), my take on Bear's Dad's Green Bean Bundle recipe (green beans and carrots wrapped in bacon and drizzled in a brown sugar and garlic butter sauce), and Katietron's mashed potatoes (with herbs and butter and garlic... soooo fluffy and delicious). Katietron also made sangria that had us red faced and giggling and homemade chocolate truffles for dessert... so very decadently rich.
We decided to do this dinner thing again, and did this past Sunday. We had another theme: PJs and Breakfast for Dinner. I dismantled the love tent (and now have some holey sheets from the safety pins... oh, well), and pulled out the futon. I piled it with all my childhood sleepover favorites: latch-hooked unicorn pillows, stuffed animals, crazy print sheets, lots of pillows. Patchie and I let the men-folk (and Katietron, master chef) work their magic in the kitchen this time. And dinner was amazing. Menu? Well, let's see... Kyle's manly scrambled eggs with salt, pepper and cheese (except for this lactose intolerant girl's portion), Katietron's pastries (pancakes, Belgian waffles, and ho cakes, which apparently are somewhere between a pancake and crepe and not at all the pancakes with a low self esteem I thought they might be), Bear's Eggs in a Basket (aka Bullseye Eggs) and toast. Also, we breezed through a half pound of bacon each (a three pound economy package of delicious dead piggy), mimosas, screwdrivers, blueberry beer, fresh squeezed OJ and sugared fruits.
All in all, this anti-tradition gal may have found a tradition worth keeping!
Not sure why I felt like writing all about our magical adventures in foodie land... except maybe to validate my new addiction to the Wii Fit. I ran 2.5 miles today, and promptly ate a homemade pizza Bear made (the Marizabeth special: olive oil and garlic base, cheese, pineapple, and easily another 1/2 lb of bacon). I guess I'll be running again tomorrow...