I am a firm believer in celebrating. I don’t need to point out all the darkness in this world; every one of us is painfully aware. But in the middle of the dark, there is light. Yeah, you have to look for it, but it’s there and sometimes obviously so. Celebrating makes the light brighter.
To that end, Mr. S. and I are spending all of January celebrating our anniversary. We celebrate because . . .
. . it’s been quite a year. In the midst of struggles and brokenness, we’ve sought oneness and closeness and connection. Some days, we found it and savored it. Other days, we fought and fought and found so little. But we keep fighting. We keep loving. We keep working.
. . God brought us together. And we cherish the three-ness of it all. We praise God for this marriage.
. . it’s fun, and the world needs more celebrating. Marriage is hard but good and here we are!
And so we celebrate.
On January 1, 2012, our first anniversary, I made a special dinner for Mr. S. We planned a menu that could grow with us. A flexible menu, one I can get creative with year in and year out. We lit candles and took our laptops off our dining table. We put our phones on silent and put the playlist from our wedding reception on loud.
We toasted first with mojitos, his favorite and something fun. Splash of white rum (or two splashes!), muddled fresh mint leaves, juice of a lime, splash of simple syrup (1 part water + 1 part sugar, boiled and cooled), lots of ice and club soda to taste. Shake or stir. Garnish with a slice of lime.
And then we opened the bottle of wine we bought on our honeymoon in Toronto. It sat in our wine rack for a year, “aging,” if you will. Sweet, intoxicating, adult. Best sipped slowly.
We built the meal around a fantastic ham. Glazed with apricot jelly, bourbon and brown sugar (recipe loosely based on the Dinner: A Love Story recipe). Commercial break: Ham is the best because of how many dinners it makes for days to come. Split pea soup, scrambled eggs and ham, ham and pineapple pizza, ham sandwiches . . . I could go on.
On the side: fresh green beans sauteed in olive oil, garlic and parmesan, plus a little salt and a lot of pepper, then roasted.
Also on the side: mashed potatoes. Half a dozen red potatoes, boiled. Peel half, leave half unpeeled. Smash by hand (or in your KitchenAid mixer, if you love yours as much as I love mine). Add a heaping tablespoon of cream cheese, sour cream, milk, butter. A hint of garlic, a hint of paprika, a little salt and a lot of pepper. Combine, taste test and add more of anything you like. Keep warm in oven until served.
And the last side: apple sausage stuffing (recipe based on this delicious one from Epicurious, except I used two eggs where the recipe calls for three).
Our dessert: brown butter apple pie. We savored every slice of this recipe from In Jennie’s Kitchen, and subbed a crumb topping (butter + sugar + flour + a pinch of salt, sprinkled on top). It was remarkable, like Jennie and her recipes always are.
I love to cook, and we loved sharing a special meal. It did not need to be this extravagant to be a celebration, though. As we continue through Year Two, we would do well to cherish the everyday. Life is sometimes easy and sometimes hard and always worth celebrating.
Later this week, I’ll share his dinner for me. Equally delicious, I promise.
(And, credit where credit is due, photos above by Mr. S.)