Monday, May 9, 2011

Taking a Day Off Does Wonders...

Sometimes, it's nice to take a day off from everything, even Mondays.

Today, I had a day off. It was a planned day off but it was a much needed vacation day and it put the week off to a lovely start.

I also took a day off from blogging. While I love writing this blog, sometimes I do debate giving it up just because it is a little bit self-indulgent and sometimes, I write crap. Then I remember that the reason I blog is so that I do, at least, get some writing time in each day which is something that, for a writer, is important to do.

My day off was because I knew I was going to have a busy weekend and I didn't want to rush back into reality straight away. I spent the weekend at my parents. It was the annual Citywide Garage Sale day in their town and, as has become our annual tradition, I went out and about with my sister and brother-in-law.

It was a very disappointing year as far as the sales went. All three of us came home with very little to show for our day spent traipsing from sale to sale. I don't know if it's because it's a bad economy and people are desperate to make a little money but much of the stuff was the sort of thing that really should have been put in the rubbish rather than sold. I know the old adage "someone's trash is someone else's treasure" usually is true but, in this case, it was really just...trash. For some reason, there were a rather large amount of people selling baggies full of hotel soaps and shampoo. That was a little...odd. I mean, sure I know they technically paid for them in the price of the hotel room but, really, those things are FREE. Thus, selling them at a yard sale is just a little bizarre and presumptuous.

There were also a lot of houses selling those "As Seen on TV" products that have one specific purpose and one purpose alone such as quesadilla makers, waffle cone makers and quick burger cookers. It's fun to see those because you know they were probably gifts that seemed like a good idea at the time but end up taking up a lot of space and being somewhat useless.

Even in spite of the poor show of worthy buyings, the day was fun and it was nice to spend time with my sister and meet her new puppy- a Brussels-griffon that slightly resembles a pug-faced alien.

The rest of my weekend was spent planning, prepping and cooking the Mother's Day dinner I was making for my parents.

It was a big task but, overall, I had a blast doing it and it turned out pretty well. It was a five course tasting menu as follows:

Amuse Bouche- crostini with Fourme d'Ambert*, shaved pear and toasted walnuts.

Appetizer- Grilled asparagus with prosciutto, parmesan crackers and lemon-garlic aoili.

Soup- Cream of zucchini with gorgonzola

Entree- Salt roasted black grouper with fresh herbs (mum) or pan seared Kobe sirloin (dad) server with roasted fingerling potatoes and pea puree.

Dessert- Chocolate eclairs with fresh cream and an assortment of European cookies.

There were also two wines and dessert aperitif.

It was a fun menu to plan and make. I wanted my parents to have a meal that they'd feel like was a treat. Overall, it was all about the timing and making sure everything was prepped and ready to go.

I think the meal was a success. My dad managed to eat two bowls of the soup and three eclairs in addition to the other courses. Mum seemed to like it and it made me feel like a real cook. The hardest part was making sure that when one course was being served, the next was being "fired" (to use a chef term (thanks, Tom Colicchio and Top Chef)!). That way, by the time the previous course was finished, the next was cooked, still warm and plated.

It was a challenge. Having a soux chef would have been nice but, at the same time, it was fun to get to do it all myself and see a good result.

I will admit I was rather tired when the dishes were washed and we were sitting down watching "Game of Thrones." It was a good tired though, one that made me feel like I accomplished something.

It was also for that reason that I'd already planned to take today off. I didn't want to have to cook and drive home to make it back to work and I wanted to have some time to just hang out with my parents and relax.

That mostly happened. With the exception of Rory having eaten something that disagreed with her that resulted in some rather vigourous vomiting, it was a nice day. I suspect she had a drink from my parents pond. Not pleasant to see or have to clean up. She's ok now.

We're back home after a nice day. The grass is mowed and I'm actually sitting outside writing this since it's actually not raining and is a lovely sunny evening.

In short, it's been a good Monday. I don't say that very often so I'm glad to say it when it does happen. Tomorrow, it'll be back to work and the daily grind but, for now, I have a few more hours to enjoy a day off.

I'd say that there are far worse things in life!

Happy Tuesday and, as always, thanks for reading.

*Fourme d'Ambert is a delicious, creamy French blue cheese that is my new favourite even if it is a wee bit stinky.

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