It’s the big 6-0

Not for me, of course. I’m creeping up there, but I’m not quite there yet.

One of my aunts is turning 60 this week. Way back at her 4th of July party, she said that for her birthday dinner, she wanted ribs – my ribs.

No problem.

Since 60 is a milestone, the “ribs for dinner” rapidly turned into an Event. My mother suggested that the gathering be held at our place, and volunteered to have the food. That is, she volunteered to have me make the food, although she does intend to make the carrot cake that my aunt requested and that was such a hit at the last gathering.

“How many people will be here?” I asked m mother, the wheels turning in my head as I thought about menus.

“Oh, I don’t know,” she said. “Maybe 30?”

Right up there with one of our usual gatherings, then.

Sunday is the Superbowl, so we’ll need a menu for that as well. It will be quite a busy weekend.

Planned menu:
Ribs – a given, since they were requested
Shrimp – ditto on the request list
Chicken breasts, for those who don’t eat pork and don’t like seafood
Baked beans
Hummus and crudites or chickpea salad (or both)
Guacamole and chips
Some vegetarian thingie I haven’t figured out yet (although I would like to try a zucchini, red and sweet onion tart with gruyere that’s knocking around in my head but that no one seems to want but me)
Perhaps a soup of some kind, as it will be chilly again this weekend after a couple of days of schizophrenic-like 70-ish degree weather that will follow our mid-20 lows the past couple of days
Maybe some vegetarian spring rolls that I can mass up from the batch I’m making Wednesday for my sister

And about those spring rolls: turns out, just about no one likes rice paper but me, so the last batch were not as excellent as everyone wanted. This evening, while picking up some things, I also picked up some egg roll wrappers, and Wednesday, I’ll be prepping some spring rolls that will be little bundles of lightly fried goodness wrapped around tasty, sauteed vegetables. I’ll also be making a ham/potato/onion/jarlsberg quiche for those of us who enjoy both meat and quiche. This evening, I whipped up another batch of roasted red pepper soup, since the last batch disappeared with a frightening rapidity between my mom and I. Now, if I only had a bunch of red pepper plants churning out tons of red peppers for me….

On Superbowl Sunday, we will also be having more tempura, and I’m considering some lobster tails to throw in with whatever we have left from Saturday. The beauty of this menu is that a lot of it can be made ahead (assuming I can keep family members from picking off tastes over the next couple days), or it doesn’t require a lot of babysitting (toss the slabs of ribs on the smoker and turn them every so often). This makes it much less stressful the day of the event.

Wednesday, in addition to the spring rolls and quiche, I’ll be making a few more loaves of bread (cinnamon-raisin, of course, since that’s what everyone wants around here), maybe some Italian loaves, and maybe something that I’ve not yet tried – focaccia? Been awhile since I had focaccia. Thursday will be sides day: slaw, hummus/salad, beans. The ribs will go into a brine on Friday night, get a rub Saturday morning, and then hit the smoker around noon. I figure by Saturday evening when people start arriving, the only thing left to do will be to throw it all on the tables and tell people to dig in.

At least, I hope it all works out that way. We have a few more servers arriving, which will likely be here Friday afternoon, and since Friday evening we’ll all be out celebrating my little brother’s 21st birthday – another milestone! – Saturday morning will also be for finalizing software setups on those new machines.

What a week(end) this will be.