Even though I went to sleep at a little before 2, I was wide-awake at 7:45 this morning. I figured I should probably start getting stuff done because I was kind of antsy just sitting on the couch and doing nothing.
I shlepped into the kitchen and took the cakes and frosting out of the freezer. (Have I mentioned that I love stuff that freezes amazingly well?) The frosting was leftover mocha-frosting from Purim and the cakes were the 'other half' of the cake batters that I used to make the ice-cream-cone-cupcakes. I sliced them horizontally and layered them with strawberry-jam as the 'glue'.
The next order of business was a super-duper white-wash with bleach to get a serious stain out of Z's Shabbos shirt. It worked quite nicely and I think the other whites that I threw in for good measure benefited from the soak.
As I put plastic-wrap on the cake, Z showed up and wanted to know whether we were going to go out to the post-office. We left the house and as we approached the bus-stop on the main road Z saw a friend of his from School so we pulled over and offered him a ride into town.
The post-office was very crowded and we took a number but it was 40 numbers away. We figured we had a couple of minutes to run next-door to the nut & spice store. I got some white chocolate so that I can make truffles tomorrow (or sometime in the very near future) and I also got myself a very special treat of salted roasted cashews & almonds. Back at the post office only 4 numbers had passed.
It took close to 40 minutes just to collect our package and it wasn't even something that we had to sign for. Z ripped the bag open all excitedly and found a lightweight fleece-jacket from National Geographic. They were having a promotional thing a few months ago when I signed up for a 1-year subscription for Z. (Yes, that's what I got him for his birthday because he has everything that he could want. No, I didn't come up with the idea on my own - but it sure was a great suggestion! We love reading the magazine when it arrives every month.) Anyway, the deal was sign-up and get 12 issues of the magazine and a fleece! I signed up because I wanted the magazine and promptly forgot about the fleece - but it seems the fleece didn't forget about us. I think I'll leave it in the car as an 'emergency coat'.
Our next (and last) stop was at Yesh. Miraculously enough they had fresh chickens so I got 3 which is exactly the number that I need to get me to Pesach. I also bought a whole lot of potato chips and the other odds and ends that I'll need for Shabbos.
Back at Home Z shlepped everything inside and then cut up all 3 of the chickens. They're now bagged and tagged in the freezer. Super convenient if you ask me. He also washed all of the dishes. Isn't he great? Yeah, I think so too.
It took me a while to decide on the menu for 'birthday dinner extravaganza' but once I had made up my mind I was very excited. I put chicken breasts up to marinate (in the usual olive oil, salt, pepper & freshly squeezed lemon juice.) Then I shaped the no-knead loaves and as they rested I frosted the cake. I reckon I had a bit too much fun with the whole frosting-process. I'm really a beginner when it comes to piping frosting. Still, overall I was happy enough with the result. (Considering the cake was slightly lopsided, the frosting was a bit crumbly and the fact that I really have no clue how to pipe frosting even though I've seen it done a zillion times before.)
Finally it was time to put the bread into the oven. 10 minutes later the whole apartment smelled like fresh bread and I thought it couldn't get any better. But I was wrong - which I found out very very soon.
I didn't want a carb-heavy meal (since we were having the bread), and I didn't want to make a soup. But I wanted something with a lot of flavor. I browsed and browsed and just when I thought there was nothing to fit all of my criteria I stumbled upon Chana Masala.
Of course! Why didn't I think of that?! A homemade tomato sauce or sorts chock-full of fiber, protein and tons of amazing flavor! Yes please! Did I mention that it's totally meant to be served over rice? Umm, as some of my favorite Munchkins say "more?!"
So layered on top of the fresh bread smell wafting through the apartment add some sauteeing onions, then add some garlic to the pan, then throw in a bunch of pungent and aromatic Indian spices - cumin, cayenne, turmeric - now stir in a whole lot of chopped tomatoes along with some water, paprika, salt, garam masala and a whole lot of chickpeas. For the final flavor pour in a bit of freshly squeezed lemon juice then stir it all up and let it cook-down.
The written word can not convey the sheer deliciousness of it all.
I served the Chana Masala over Jasmine rice. There were pan saute'ed chicken breasts for an added dose of protein. And of course there was the specially-requested no-knead bread for soaking up the extra sauce and just generally stuffing our faces with.
I didn't try the bread, but I did put some of the sauce on my rice & chicken. Man oh man was it good! I'm definitely going to be making it again not to mention I'm going to start cooking with Indian spices more. A lot more. Hopefully. Well, that's the plan anyway.After clearing the table, Sara helped by putting all the candles (plus 1 for good-luck) into the cake. Then we lit them all and carried the cake into the dining room singing.
I'm pretty sure that the birthday girl enjoyed both her birthday bread, her birthday dinner and her birthday cake. That makes me happy. I really enjoy being able to make someone's day a little brighter or a little happier. What can I say, I'm just crazy like that.
Tomorrow is going to be busy too - but all for me. Truffles, FF cookies and hopefully a FF bread-experiment. Wish me luck on that last one...