Sometimes you meet your really special friends in the most unlikely of circumstances. Such was the case when we put my father into a nursing home. We went through a series of mishaps with some truly incompetent staff, several of which he almost didn’t survive. I was at my wits end when the most unlikely character walked in, a male nurse named Michael who was a bit of a maverick. He stretched out his hand, introduced himself and it was then that I noticed what appeared to be several fairly large tattoos including one of Gandalf the Grey. I liked him immediately.
Mind you, this is not something that you generally saw in this particular nursing home, a haven for some of the most ridiculously rigid orthodoxy and religious restrictions that I had ever seen. I wondered briefly if I was in the right place, checked to make sure that I wasn’t in some kind of alternate reality and then I began to grill him, making sure that he knew everything about my dad’s history and more. He put up with it which was my first clue that I was right about his character because when it comes to those I love I can really be a bit of a bitch.
Time went on and for three years Michael was my fathers (and my sister’s and mine ) knight in shining armor. He saved dad’s life many a time when the incompetence of the rest of the nursing home staff should have killed him. He encouraged us to make the right decisions for daddy every step of the way instead of the childlike ones and I am sure that it’s what helped extend my fathers shelf life well past the time that it should have been. He was the one who hugged me right before I walked into my fathers room to take it apart the day after he had died. He's the very essence of the words "loyal friend".
I knew about 1 year into knowing him that he was someone that I wasn’t letting out of my life and I also knew just how relationships like these usually work. So Jim and I showed up at a fundraiser that Michael’s community was putting on for an autistic child and made a donation. I think that he was shocked that we actually showed but he knows now that he shouldn’t have been. When I decide you’re one of mine, you’re one of mine for life. I met his darling wife Janine that evening and we discovered that we were total Janis Joplin freaks and long lost sisters which was wonderful because having been the little sister for my whole life I was delighted to discover that I could have my own! It’s a bit like having a kitten all of the time….I love it!
Michael and Jim became almost instant blood brothers. I knew that they would because they both came from pretty rough and tumble circumstances and they have a mutual understanding of what it takes to move out of the streets and excel in this crazy world. They also share the fact that they’re both self admittedly married to princesses, a fact that in turn infuriates and delights them.
So last week it was Michael’s birthday and one of the many places that we connect? My tough pal is a total foodie. He loves to cook and learn as much as he can about food, which is not uncommon I’ve discovered for people like him and my husband who spent a goodly part of their adolescence on the street eating mashed potatoes from a box. So when Janine called to invite us to his "Sunday bloody Sunday " birthday party I offered to make something. I wasn’t sure what it was going to be until that morning when I walked into Whole Foods and saw the most gorgeous in-house smoked salmon that I’d ever seen. I decided then and there to make a homemade salmon pate’ and serve it with toast points of Russian Pumpernickel that was covered with onion and poppy seeds.
So I made up a recipe and brought it to the party where I christened it forever “Michaels Birthday Salmon Pate’ “, being of the opinion that nicest thing that you can do for anyone is name a totally delicious recipe after them. This pate’ is truly yummy and incredibly easy to prepare. It is also very fattening but so what?
All you need to do is cream 1 stick of butter with a pint of organic sour cream and 2 boxes of cream cheese in whatever Kitchen Aid type appliance you own. Then add about a pound and a half of flaked smoked salmon ( I used several different kinds because I like the texture of freshly smoked salmon better than the traditional vacuumed sealed slimy stuff.) about 10 pieces of crumbled bacon, about three tablespoons of Red Stag bourbon, 2 tablespoons of dried blueberries (you could substitute cranberries or cherries if you wanted to) a cup of chopped pecans and 1 cup of chopped green onion and a cup of chopped fresh dill. Then add some pinches of cinnamon, allspice, nutmeg, cardamom, black pepper, salt to taste and about 1/3 of a cup of maple syrup. Blend the whole thing together in the mixer and scoop it into a bowl and dust it with chives. That’s it. This recipe makes a lot ( at least 5 or 6 cups) which is good because you won’t be able to stop eating it.
So I brought it, placed it on the bar and we ate it accompanied by lots of wonderfully spicy Bloody Mary’s that Michael made himself complete with wasabi ice cubes, pickle juice, sriracha sauce, garlic salt, clam juice and all of the trimmings including fresh lemon balm which was wonderful. It was a beautiful day, complete with friends old and new, tons of laughter and a lot of really good food! SOTD? Tom Fords Tobacco Vanilla which blended beautifully with the smoky, cherry bourbon infused salmon pate’ and the spicy warmth of the autumn day. It was perfect and simple , just another day that proves once again that life is truly very good. Happy Birthday Pal… and Happy Autumnal Equinox Everybody! What are you doing to celebrate today?
Blessed Be, Beth