One of my favorite parts of every week happens tomorrow night. Yes, it's Friday, but it's not my non-stop, can't-slow-down social life that has me to excited: tomorrow night I get to plan my new menu. Yes, I know that makes me a total dork, but I'm actually okay with that. I truly enjoy sitting down with my cookbooks and thumbing through, thinking of new ways to wow the Mister and get the most out of the money I plunked down at some point for the cookbook.
It's really a soothing, creative process for me. I have a whole ritual! Here is how tomorrow night will go, give or take an exciting detour I may take on my way home from work:
Come home and make dinner
Clean up dishes
Open wine while dinner photos import
Post something fun and entertaining about dinner or how relieved I am that the week finally ended but OMG I can't believe the week is already over and next week is Thanksgiving and there's only one full week left of November
Then, finally, I will pour [another] glass of Beaujolais Nouveau (which just hit stores today!) and sit down to plan the new menu, including my part of Thanksgiving dinner.
The longer I spend developing my menu and poring over recipes, the more courageous I become. The wine might help, but I've noticed this phenomenon even without my dessert buddy. As I work my way through cookbooks I've perused possibly hundreds of times, my eyes urgently scanning the pages for one recipe I haven't made yet that doesn't contain an ungodly number of things Mister hates or might kill him, I become enveloped in adventure and make, at times, outlandish decisions I might have otherwise passed over. As a result, at least once a month, I end up in my kitchen, staring at my menu and thinking, "Really, Natalie?" or "What was I thinking?" I end up saving the "weird" recipe until I have run out of other options, and finally...
I make Curry Fennel Cauliflower Bake from La Dolce Vegan, and wonder when I became so self-doubting. I mean, really, isn't it possible that I know what I'm doing by now and I can just trust the part of me that thought this recipe was a good idea in the first place?
It was every bit as good as it looks. The spice blend melded with the cauliflower and rubbed itself into the tofu while it baked, creating a savory meal complete with the perfectly conflicting textures of cauliflower and tofu. The peas provided a nice squish of sweet in an otherwise umami-dominated dinner and the rice balanced out the light heat from the pepper that made my lips tingle and burn toward the last few bites.
That's all for now, folks - tomorrow I'll be wading through the wealth of amazing recipes suggested by VegNews to round out the perfect vegan Thanksgiving. I'm still overwhelmed by the volume of recipes collected in the email I received, so if my brain is spectacularly broken by tomorrow evening, I may save my poking around until Saturday. Sleep sweetly, MoFos!