The atmosphere in the kitchen swirled with an odd pervasive sense of serenity. This peculiar richness of feeling danced tantalizingly out of reach of words. Fear of losing whatever it was circulating in the kitchen stopped me from attempting to define it.
Norah Jones’ velvet tones floated out from the speakers. Stately as any king Porter perched on a kitchen chair and watched the gentle flurry of kitchen activity. As I filled the slow cooker with a pork loin and the ingredients for Cuban Style Pork Tenderloin, Melanie was carefully sprinkling a spice mixture on the short bread cookies the two of us had previously frosted. Savoring a sip of wine, I raised my glass in honor of my mother and grandmother’s kitchen traditions and a salute to Julia Childs, for openly supporting the positive attributes of enjoying wine while cooking.
If the Roasted Curried Sweet Potato Salad chilling in the refrigerator was any example, the menu for this evening wasn’t for culinary wimps. Once I had made the quantum leap to cook for my taste buds and what initialized my joy to prepare, I began prancing at the starting gate like a ready to race horse at the Kentucky Derby. It had been way too long since I had planned and executed a complete dinner party. Potlucks had upsurped the starring role in the last few years, wonderful in their own effortless way, but sometimes mundane.
I glanced over at Melanie standing on a chair; drowning in one of my aprons with her dark hair pulled back in a ponytail. Her brow was furled in concentration. I had experienced an inspirational bingo, when I remembered cookies, ice cream and kids have perennially marched hand in hand. My ploy to engage Melanie in the process worked. Her passive resistance melted like the proverbial ice cream cone dropped on a hot payment. The two of us spent an amazing hour poring through recipe books, salivating over pictures and agonizing about choices. Who would have thought Melanie had ‘a thing goin’ on’ about the flavor of coffee. Chocolate as The Queen of Flavors was an immutable given. So after intense deliberations Baker’s Brew Shortbread cookies and Fresh Mint ice cream with Mocha Ripple were selected.
As I programmed the slow cooker, I sighed. All was sooooo right with the world.
The doorbell rang. Motioning to Melanie we opened the door together to welcome Tom.
“Right on time,” I said. “Come on in. Are those flowers for us?”
“You betcha,” Tom replied. “I hope red wine works.”
“Red wine always adds sparkle to my world. These flowers are gorgeous. What an imaginative bouquet. Who would’ve thought you would be so thoughtful.” I laughed.
“I like to surprise people,” said Tom arching an eyebrow. Then he knelt down in order to be eye to eye with Melanie. “Goodness Miss Melanie, you’re look like a beautiful princess tonight.”
Melanie twirled her skirt and replied, ” Miss bought me this dress special for tonight.”
“We had an emergency shopping trip this afternoon, didn’t we Melanie? A dinner party dress is essential to every female’s wardrobe.” I said stroking Melanie’s silky ponytail.
“Pink is the perfect color choice for a you, Princess Melanie,” said Tom. ” Guess what? I happened to bring a book about princesses with me. See the princess on the cover is wearing a pink dress too.” Tom said as he handed her a book he had tucked under his arm.
“For me? To keep? Look Miss, a book about a Princess.”
“Well wasn’t that sweet of Tom. What do you say, Melanie?”
“Thank you,” Melanie said.
“Go put it in your room for now. Maybe we will have time to read it for your bedtime story,” I said.
“Do you want to see my room?” Melanie asked looking up at Tom.
“I was hoping you would ask me,” said Tom.
Melanie grabbed his hand and said, “Come on. It’s this way.”
I don’t know who was most taken aback by this unexpected request, me or Tom. Tom’s face had flashed from astonishment to pleasure in a nano second. Whereas my surprise morphed into a stab of jealousy that Melanie had grabbed Tom’s hand so naturally so quickly.
Briskly I walked to the kitchen. Enough of silliness there’s a dinner to serve. I opened the refrigerator to grab the salad. I had no idea she cared about her room at all. Maybe we could go shopping and select a more girly bedspread. A couple of cute lamps would brighten things up, when she was playing in her room in the evening. Stop it. No sense decorating her room, when she was going to be gone in less than a week. Unless of course Tom and I could come to some agreement about visitation once she was placed in a permanent home.
To be Continued——-
See below what Eleanor and Melanie prepared for their first dinner party!
This roster of recipes for a dinner is Fine Restaurant quality.
The fabulous salad is from Addie at Culicurious.
Roasted Curried Sweet Potato Salad
Abbe from This is How I Cook provided the recipe for the over the top delicious shortbread cookies.
Bakers Brew Shortbread Cookies
Marcie from Flavor the Moments developed the recipe for the creamy delectable ice cream.
Fresh Mint Ice Cream with Mocha Ripple
Jo at Jo Cooks came up with the succulent pork roast recipe.
Crockpot Cuban Style Pork Tenderloin