When it comes to Valentine’s Day, Barn and I tend towards an attitude of: “We will not be forced by commercialism into a faux display of demonstrating our love for each other, on a specific day, through the purchasing of unimaginative items such as flowers, chocolates and cards .”
The things he does for me unprompted, day to day, throughout the year, mean far, far more to me than any calendar decreed gesture. Putting my clean PJs to warm on the radiator ready for when I get home from a late shift, looking in charity shops for books by my favourite authors, quietly changing the bed linen while I’m in the bath, and slipping a hot water bottle between the sheets on my side of the bed – this sort of gesture whispers sweet nothings to me in a way that a bunch of roses never could.
However, we’re fully aware that not everyone feels as we do, particularly when they are younger and fairly recently ‘coupled up’. Medieval’s birthday falls on Valentine’s Day so, based on the assumption that he’d prefer his celebration to be àwith Mme. H, I’ve never really considered organising anything for him. While having a planning meeting for the upcoming celebrations for Big Sis and Mum, I discovered that this base assumption was erroneous.
“Hang on a minute,” he said, with a big old grin on his face, “I know of at least one birthday that comes before either of these two…”
“Ach, you mean yours?”, sayeth I with an airy wave of my hand. “Don’t be daft, that’s not going to happen. You know we don’t bother with yours. It’s tradition.”
“Hahaha!” said everyone in the room, including Medieval, and we pressed on with our planning session.
Of course, the minute everyone left I phoned Big Sis, Mum and Mme. H, and together we hatched a plan to surprise him.
For a variety of reasons going for a ‘proper’ night out was not a viable option so it was decided I would cook a meal, which would be hosted at Mum’s house. I find cooking in a kitchen other than my own to be a ridiculously difficult thing to do and rarely achieve the results I would at home, so I figured I’d make most of it in advance in my own kitchen, then ferry everything over for finishing off at Mum’s. Logistics be damned!
If you’ve read the VIPs info page of this blog, you’ll already be aware that Medieval has something of a penchant for meat and chillies, which made Tex-Mex the obvious route to go. However, when it comes to home cooking Tex-Mex , my experience to that point had been limited the occasional chilli con carne or tacos, fajitas and enchiladas made using those everything-included kits you can buy from the supermarket.
After wading around the internet amongst some fairly horrid sounding recipes (lots and lots of pre-processed ingredients), a superb tip-off from Baby Bro led me to The Homesick Texan. What a flipping great site it is! Most of the dishes I eventually made were inspired by recipes found on there. I say ‘inspired by’ as quite a few ingredients were not readily available to me in the UK, thus forcing an English twist on things…Tex-Mex-En, if you will.
In the course of researching recipes for this meal I discovered two things:
Firstly, the paucity of my chilli knowledge – I need to learn about the heats, flavours and nuances of different types so that I can make better substitutions where necessary.
Secondly – I have no desire whatsoever to try this thing called Velveeta. I do not feel the slightest bit deprived that it’s not available here. Surely it’s not really cheese? Does it actually qualify as a dairy product? I believe that unopened it can sit on a shelf, unrefrigerated, for months. Dear gods people…why would you eat that when real cheese exists? 😉
To illustrate my point…here we have a bacon-jalapeño cheese ball, rolled in toasted pecans and served with various chips and crackers. The smaller one is a simple bacon and cheese ball, for the people who are not friends with chillies. With or without chillies, is that not more appealing than a big chunk of orange stuff?!
I’d always eschewed cheese balls previously on the grounds of them being, well, um, too cheesy. I was finally persuaded by Baby Bro’s exhortation to try this, if no other, Homesick Texan recipe. This was excellent advice on his part, and an excellent decision to follow it on mine. It was delicious – every scrap gobbled up. So easy to make too…more cheese balls are definitely in our future.
Oven ‘fried’ chicken chimichangas – the mild version to the left, wrapped in garlic and herb tortillas, the spicy version on the right wrapped in jalapeño tortillas. Chimichangas had to be on the menu in order to give me an excuse to frequently say the word ‘chimichanga’. Is it not the most pleasing thing to say?
Ice cream cake made with a base layer of crushed Hob Nob biscuits coated in chocolate, then a layer of caramel ice cream containing chocolate chunks, then a layer of vanilla ice cream. Finally, at the last minute, chocolate fudge sauce was poured over the top. Sticky, melty yumminess!