I’m working on this short story right now (Akira & Zane, honeymooning in Belize, not going so well) and for some reason, it made me want to write this blog post instead. I think it’s because of a line I wrote a while back about what Akira would remember from her wedding–sometimes the details we will remember are more obvious than others.

So New Year’s Eve was a rough day for me. Long story and I’ll skip most of the boring details, but the two most important were that it was R’s 18th b-day, and he, of course, was far, far away, and that the toilet started leaking copious quantities of water. On top of an already tough week, not a good combo. So I called a friend and he came over, and I started cooking.

First up was spicy crab tarts. I mixed crab meat, light mayo, parmesan cheese, siracha and some worcestershire sauce, and put it in phyllo cups, baked it in a 425 oven for about ten minutes. Sprinkled it with some green onion, finely chopped, and some red paprika. (I think it wasn’t really paprika, maybe chili powder of some kind? But some form of red pepper.) Delicious.

When the tarts were gone, I spread cream cheese thinly on crackers and topped them with slices of smoked salmon and slivers of lemon.

I think the bacon and cheese came next. I mixed up chopped bacon (already cooked), light mayo, shredded sheep’s milk cheese (petit basque), and a tablespoon or so of Cento diced hot cherry peppers, and spread it on thin slices of baguette and baked it in my 425 oven for 8 minutes or so. I’m pretty sure that was the clear winner of the evening. It was spicy and creamy and salty and… really, all things good. I could have eaten it all night long.

Once it was gone, I made… oh, I think the cranberry came next. So I took puff pastry cups and baked them per the directions on the box, then filled them with a bit of brie, a little green onion, and a dab of the homemade cranberry sauce leftover from Christmas dinner, and baked them for another five minutes or so, long enough for the cheese to melt. Yum. Best hot, though. When they’d cooled off, they were still good, but nothing remarkable.

Finally, I did some artichoke tarts. I mixed softened cream cheese with chopped up marinated artichokes, some parmesan cheese, some red hot peppers, and honestly, I don’t know what else. I was very much in the cooking zone where I didn’t read recipes or measure ingredients, just assumed that all good things taste good together. Maybe there was some mayo in there, if the spread seemed a little thick. And maybe not. I might have added some salt and pepper, possibly some green onion. Anyway, I tried the artichoke spread in all my breadish options: in phyllo cups, in puff pastry, and on baguette. I think it was best on baguette–toasted cheese spreads are always good on bread–but it was always tasty.

Then another friend arrived, so I made some more of everything.

It wound up being an okay day. I still missed R. I still felt nostalgic about so many New Year’s eve’s past that seemed far more hopeful. I still felt sad. But I also felt creative and competent and like life was probably not all that bad after all. And that’s what I want to remember. Twenty years from now, when I think about R’s 18th birthday, I don’t want to remember only, “Oh, I was so sad.” I want to remember bacon & cheese & pepper appetizers, and sitting around my kitchen table talking about Harry Potter and towns in Ohio.

Also, the bacon & cheese–sooo good. Seriously. Good bacon plus good cheese plus good bread plus mayo to bind it all together and red peppers to give it a little kick… yum, yum, yum.

(Oh, right, and you should visit Goodreads and enter my book giveaway. The print edition of A Gift of Time is beautiful!)