So, apart from the fact that we're flat broke and so eating out is NOT an option and despite the fact that I desperately needed to use the yeast cake that was in the fridge (how gross does the term "yeast cake" sound? really gross? yeah, me too) I actually did really want to cook my own birthday dinner.
I like coking for an appreciative audience and I like the instant gratification I get from eating the results (provided that they taste good).
I sort of didn't start early enough... but by the time dinner was served (9pm) I'd been on my feet cooking, shopping, cooking, cleaning, and more cooking... for over 9 hours.
What all did I make?
1) Pine-nut Olive Oil Bread: fantastically good, very labor intensive. It came from my Californian cuisine cookbook, which, although it turns out great meals after a fashion, I am not sure if it was particularly designed to be used by normal not-professionally-trained people. The part that had me howling was the "knead in your mixer, using the bread hook, for 8 minutes." My KitchenAid mixer has not yet arrived and I don't know if my Danish Boy ordered it with a bread hook, but I happen to know that my current hand-held mixer does NOT have a low setting (it's settings start at "beat" and end with "dervish") nor the proper attachments. This was a hand made bread. Which means it did NOT get whirled around the bowl for 8 minutes.
2) Tomato-Shiitake Mushroom Bisque: this is a fantastic soup. Really really really good. I do not generally like tomatoes and I am only just warming up the other foreign mushrooms (I'll do button and portobello, no problem, I'm working up to the others) but this is an amazing soup and crazy easy to make, in my humble opinion. (I did just wrestle with the bread, brain surgery would probably have felt easy.)
3) Asian Noodle Salad: and not just any asian noodle salad, but the one on Pioneer Woman's blog. It, uh, makes a lot of salad if you follow it. Cabbage heads are VERY big in Denmark.
4) Apple Dumplings with homemade carmel sauce: I really wish the other food had not been so damn good and that I had not made so damn much of it and that I hadn't, therefore, eaten so damn much of it, because this is my new most favorite desert EVER! I made carmel sauce!! Whoot!
So everything was all ready at the same time, because I had to cool the bread first, so that was out of the oven hours before dinner, and well, you can make a salad earlier in the day and so really the only thing that was cooking was the soup... but that's not the point. I was able to field a three course meal with home-made bread!
It is probably the most cooking I've ever done in a day.