So how did we spend the day? Poor Bethi spent most of it studying for her exam tomorrow. I on the other hand was preparing. I’ve been scheming, you see. I’d been throwing around ideas for what to do for weeks and I decided on something that would work nicely. The end result? A picnic. Sounds simple, doesn’t it? Make some food, eat it somewhere nice, go home happy. But there’s so much organisation that goes into it! So I spent much of my free time on the weekend planning it, and this is how it turned out.
Due to disorganisation and lack of time. Monday morning (the big day) was the day I did most of the preparation. I woke up as early as reasonable to finish planning what food to prepare. I spent hours going through feasible vegetarian recipes and ended up with something like seven courses, before I realised that even on a good night, that was overkill to the extreme. What I ended up deciding on was just one salad, sandwiches, a couscous and zucchini main, Turkish bread and fresh vegetable dips, strawberries and/or blueberries and wine, and after much deliberation, rocky road for dessert. I chose meals that I felt would be complimentary, traditional, sweet and full of love and effort. So I organised a hefty shopping lift, left the house at 11:40am to buy all the goods, and planned to be back around 12. It took me nearly two hours to get all the groceries. Who the heck knew that something as simple as picking up all the items on a list could take two hours? Things like trying to remember which brand of Dijon mustard she liked or whether she’d fine the plates cute or silly. I’ve never bought fresh produce before so it was really fun and a little daunting trying to decide what broccoli I wanted and rubbish like that, but it was an adventure which I really enjoyed. All up I spent $108 at Coles for the groceries alone. I bought fresh crusty bread and picked up some flowers and wine. The liquor store didn’t have taltani, a brand Bethwyn’s parents told me she’d like, but the manager was really friendly and helped me pick a nice substitute.
So with my bags of groceries (it was so strange actually pushing around a shopping trolley) I got home and prepared the kitchen. I spent hours preparing, pouring love and laughter into the various meals. I did the rocky road first because it needed time to chill and harden. That turned out disastrously because: a) I bought choc chips rather than cooking chocolate, and choc chips apparently are meant to keep their shape when baked, and b) I ignored the recipe-maker’s advice and just stuck mixture into a pot to melt. What you’re supposed to do is boil water, put the chocolate in a heat-proof bowl and then stick the bowl on top of the pot. Too much trouble? Too bad. The end result was what appeared to be a giant, delicious poo. So I made the executive decision to throw that out, buy some actual cooking chocolate and try again. Fortunately it turned out beautifully, and much better than I had dreamed possible.
I made sandwhiches, heavily mustarded with fresh crusty bread, halved and sealed in an airtight bag. One with rocket, one without (because I couldn’t remember if she liked it or not).
I prepared fresh vegetables to go with the dips I’d selected (including her favourite, hummus). It was a strange and unknown experience trying to make capsicum slices, or getting broccoli into bite-sized pieces, but it was enjoyable and super healthy, if a little time consuming and painful (capsicum is unexpectedly easy to cut- I knicked my fingers more than once, but don’t worry, the meal had only sweat and tears, no blood).
Then came the pasta! The recipe I was using was just a few sentences someone had written on Yahoo! Answers, but it sounded good enough to make! Problematicaly, it was horribly vague, saying things like "Prepare a pasta of your choice", or "Add in a, b, c and if you like maybe some d, or sprinkle it with w and or use x. And if you like, you can make your own dressing using y and z, or…" So I had to just pull it together and pick out the ingredients I thought would go nicely. I think Eugene kind of liked it, Bethwyn certainly expressed she did, and I thought it was the greatest thing since pickles. Success for my extra colourful Italian pasta salad!
By this time it was 5:15pm, and I knew sunset began at 6:54. I wanted to start the picnic at least half an hour before sunset so we’d have time to eat and then drink wine and have strawberries, blueberries and chocolate for dessert. But foolish me, I’d forgotten about the card and present! So I abandoned the couscous and zucchini and spent half an hour getting ready for the date, writing out the card (why is it that I say the most romantic things in messages and then dearly wish I’d saved it for the card?!) and looking for photos. Why looking for photos? Because the present I decided on after much delibration was a locket. And I very much wanted two photos tiny enough to cut out and stick our faces in. But at 5:50, panicking and suddenly realising I couldn’t fit the drinks in the cooler (which I borrowed from her parents) so they’d be warm, I left it.
I arrived at her house just after 6:30 and rang the doorbell (as every good date should start with). Millie, her dog, went ballistic as always, and she answered the door looking amazing, in jeans and a tee with beautifully done make-up. I had to keep Bethi in her room while I smuggled out the picnic blanket and a cooler for the drinks, but not too soon after we left! Kept entirely in the dark about what I’d planned or where we were going, I did my best to drive us to a certain park of significant meaning. It was only two streets away but I got lost, yet managed to fluke it and get there in one piece anyway. I know Bethi has some good memories there, but it’s where some of my happiest have been, so we settled on the grass and busted out the picnic. She loved it all (or so she tells me) but because we were starting so late (close to 7) we had to stop about half an hour afterwards because it was dark and the mosquitoes were out. I’d brought insect repellant candles, but it was more dangerous than romantic so we left them unopened. The roll-on bug repellant was a no go either because the only uncovered part of her were her hands, neck and face, and she needed those to eat and look pretty (rather than smudged). So we left a little early to finish the picnic at home over Lady and the Tramp. I gave her present to her then. The locket I gave her was not empty, just photo-less. But it contained all the love in the world.
So that was the big day out! It was a lot of work in new territory for me, and a little daunting, but wholly rewarding. It really is a joy to cook- I should do it more often. Happy holidays everyone!