Today is the 5th Anniversary for TacoMa’am and myself (boy, it doesn’t feel like we’ve been together that long).  We both almost forgot about it due to a fair amount of busy-ness that has claimed our time this year.  Well that, and Tron who can be quite distracting.  Oh and the rampant illness that has been floating around the Tacohut… that’s been pretty distracting too.  OH SHINY!  *Wanders off*

Anyway, today marks the 5th year of our anniversary meal tradition (being our 5th anniversary and all).  We don’t celebrate our anniversary in any of the typical ways you can think of.  We don’t buy each other gifts, or go out on a date to a high class gig, no carriage rides, dressing up, dancing, or anything snazzy like that.  Instead TacoMa’am picks out a selection of dishes for a complete multi-course meal.  Generally the meal is themed to a particular country’s cuisine; our first year didn’t have a country theme as it was a “beta run” of the tradition, but since then we’ve done Indian, French, and Italian the last 3 years.  This year Japan is stepping up to the plate (*ba dum*). The meal generally consists of 1 or 2 appetizers, a main entrée with a few sides, and then a desert. 

Generally when we cook, we try to keep things frugal.  Meat is purchased on sale and in bulk then sealed and frozen, vegetables are likewise found on sale.  Noodles and rice tend to be whatever is fairly inexpensive, bread likewise, and fruit is purchased based on whatever is in season (or bananas since their price never seems to fluctuate these days).  Our grocery bill is fairly low because of this, but also rather unexciting.  We have a collection of about 20 meals we make on a regular basis that are generally pretty easy, fast, healthy, and cheap.  Due to the monotany, we’re thinking of making a dice roll table and populating it with the contents of our recipe box.

However, for the anniversary dinner all stops are pulled and I’m allowed to spend as much as I want on ingredients.  Generally it comes to about 50-60 dollars for the one meal, which is huge spending at the grocery store for one meal, but is still running us way under what it would cost to go to a fancy restaurant for the evening.  I do the lions share of the cooking, which is fun for me because I rarely (once or twice a year) get to break out of my box and do cooking of this sort.  I get to experiment with new methods and do new things in the kitchen; and since I like to cook, it’s nice to be able to spend a lot of money and do some fancy cooking.  I also try to do some aesthetic presentation of the meal as well, to varying results over the years.   We eat the meal, generally ending up with enough leftovers for 2 or 3 more sittings, and then it falls into TacoMa’am’s court to clean all the dishes.  That’s usually a pretty monumental task in itself since not only am I allowed free range of ingredients, but free range of all our cooking stuff.  Usually when I cook I try to make as few dishes as possible to make things easier on everyone (TacoMa’am).  On anniversary night I usually feel free to use every pot we own if I feel I need to.  Often the dishes have to be done a few times while I’m cooking to keep up with the need of mixing bowls and whatnot.

Generally the meal takes about 2 days to prepare.  And by that I mean that I do an afternoon of prep work the day before (pie crusts, or things that need to be mixed and let sit over night and the like), and then usually start working on the meal around noon the next day with the expectation of being done and ready to eat around 6pm.  It’s a pretty big affair on the cooking end and I spend most of a day running around the kitchen swearing at ingredients.  It’s usually more fun prospectively and retrospectively, but when you’re in the thick of  it preparing 6 dishes that all have different cooking times but need to be done around the same time… well let’s just say I respect chefs who can juggle all those dishes but I don’t know that I’d ever want to join their ranks.  Stressful.  It helps that I go through the recipes and plan my motions, but things never go as well as the planning phase.

The last 3 years I’ve also stopped to take pictures of the meals right after serving.  I’ll probably post those on the blog here over the next few weeks just to catch everyone up before I go and post the results of this year’s meal.

With one notable exception, all the dishes have turned out extremely well.  The best was probably the Indian food night I did for our 2nd anniversary; but Italian night was really good too.  French was good, but not really as exciting as the other two meals; though I did successfully make souflé, which was pretty cool and not as hard as people make it seem.

So yeah, this weekend will most likely feature me in the kitchen swearing like a trucker while TacoMa’am holds her hands over Tron’s ears.  Sounds exciting, no?

-Confusion is a state of mind, or is it?