Monday, September 10, 2007

My In-Laws Are Coming To Visit

My in-laws are coming for a visit. No, there isn't a punchline, and I rather like them. Living clear across the country, we don't see them often and as a result, try to make their visits as pleasant as possible. The visit will coincide with my mother-in-law's birthday, as it did last time they visited.

I have a rather antiquated cookbook that suggests recipes "even your mother-in-law will enjoy" but somehow I can't believe she'd be terribly impressed by instant potatoes and skinless chicken poached in cream of mushroom soup. I might be giving her more credit than deserved, but the woman has taken cooking classes across the globe-If I served her a meal like that she'd have to figure I was being ironic.

Usually, we just dine out when they visit. Last time, we took them to B&G Foods in Omaha for a Loose Meat Sandwich. I suppose that requires a bit of explanation for people outside of the Midwest. A loose meat sandwich is heavily seasoned ground beef (mostly onion powder from what I'm able to detect) that is crumbled and placed on a very soft bun to soak up the considerable amount of fat drippings. The place is conveniently located across from a hospital which was a bonus in the last weeks of my pregnancy as I could finish up my appointment with the OB and scoot over to B&G for a Bee-Gee sandwich. Somehow, I haven't wanted one in the years since, though my mother-in-law enjoyed hers and despite advances in fertility treatment, she's most certainly not expecting. Apparently the non-pregnant can enjoy greasy meat on a soft bun as well.

After something so culturally interesting on the last visit, it is going to be hard to top that when they arrive in a couple weeks. There's a tavern in David City that serves fried chicken gizzards at lunchtime that I'll probably drag them off to. Now all I need to do is figure out the birthday cake,and we're all set.

I know you're wondering, what did we buy her for a present? I had to come up with something that would travel well.* Since she's a bit of a foodie, I finally settled on dried salt cod and a jar of pickled thyme both from Mediterranean Foods in Omaha. No really, I'm serious-she loves thyme. I'm half tempted to go back and buy a jar of the gum mastic though I've read that it is not unlike chewing on pine. Tell me you wouldn't be excited to get a gift bag filled with those treats.

But seriously, what am I going to do about the cake? Regular readers know by now that the 100+ year old house is um...what's the word I'm looking for... settling? No, that's not over. Yeah, that's it. Anyway, the kitchen is on a pretty serious slant and as a result no matter how well the oven is balanced, things come-out lopsided. It is worse when I make a custard pie as the filling slides to one end as it cools on the counter. I figure it will take numerous layers until I can trim a couple to appear balanced. While it is amusing to post pictures of seriously unbalanced cakes on a blog, I'd sort of like to serve something attractive for company, seeing how it is a birthday celebration.

What am I going to do for a cake?

*One year for Father's day we sent my father-in-law an elaborate gift basket filled with locally made beef, turkey, and buffalo jerky. As he does quite a bit of camping, the gift was actually useful and he was able to enjoy an interesting regional gift.

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