Sunday, February 28, 2010

home is where the happy is

I have a confession to make: I am not all that excited about going back to work tomorrow.

I had such a nice weekend; it was really, truly enjoyable. Why ruin it by starting a new week? Is Monday really that necessary?

Yesterday, I woke up to - you guessed it - more snow! What an excellent start to the weekend! Actually, sleeping until I decided to get up was the excellent start, but snow was a terrific way to keep the fun going. It didn't accumulate at all, but it was gorgeous floating around in the air. I enjoyed some coffee and breakfast, and after a satisfying lunch, it was time to go food shopping. I'll spare you the boring details, but after that chore was conquered, I went to my Saturday job and found myself wishing I could make it my only job. It really is fulfilling, but I am basing that on the way it feels to see two girls I've been teaching for 8 years or so and recognize how far they've come. I remember how completely frustrating the first year of lessons can be and how some people just can't/won't learn. I did teach "full-time" for a while and depending on it for my complete income really extinguished any flame of passion I might have had for it at that time, so I'll let it go at that.

Returning home to a fully stocked fridge and cupboards, I decided to kick off my new menu by cooking up some Spanish Veggie Stew with Spanish Rice, both from The Accidental Vegan.

It was something of an exercise in patience. I have nearly given up on brown rice. When I was at Whole Foods last week, I picked up some short-grain brown rice, stupidly thinking that it would cook slightly faster than long-grain brown rice. NOPE. After the first hour of boiling, I lost track of how long it took. I'm not convinced that it was actually done when I served it, but I was done boiling it. I started it well before I started simmering the stew, and it was still going for a while after the stew was very fully cooked.

I will probably make this again, but without brown rice of any length.

Tonight, I made Seitan Cacciatore, also from TAV. It is so easy and so tasty and works well with [much faster cooking] Basmati rice. I also threw together a couple of salads. I don't have a whole lot to say about this, other than how good this is and how you should eat it, too.

Earlier today, we had two fun visits: my parents came into the city and took us out for my birthday brunch (yes, a month and a half late - how awful a daughter am I?), and Mister had a playdate with an old friend. By playdate, I mean that the two of them hung out in the midst of Mister's mess, oohing and aahing over dusty bits of audio gear I still don't understand, while I poked through Hi-Fructose and Clean Eating magazines.

If I've never mentioned this before, my parents are awesome. Despite their inclination to think I'm a little off, they continually humor my whims and courageously take those opportunities to open their minds and try something new. Instead of going to our standard brunch spot, I tricked my loving parents into taking us to MiLah Vegetarian. Once there, I was amused, impressed, and proud. It was amusing watching everyone, including Mister, pore over the menu. I was impressed with my father for ordering Tofu Benedict and proud of him for actually eating it all! I got the Tofu Benedict as well, which came with braised kale, roasted tomatoes, and sweet potato home-fries. It was very good.

I am very much in love with the menu and would love to return multiple times for both brunch and dinner so I can try everything...convincing Mister to go with me could prove difficult, though. It seemed to me that everyone's food was very good and I was also very happy with the coffee and the fruit plate. Mister's grudge is with the staff, and although they were friendly, I am somewhat in agreement with him. It seemed like everyone on staff today was a teenager or college kid...resulting in Mister not getting his "bacon" and getting sweet potatoes instead of regular potatoes, which makes for a sad Mister.

In any case, I got my birthday presents! They're all wonderful! I got some kitchen toys: a vegetable peeler that you wear on your finger - I can't wait to see how that works - and a vegetable "peeler" that juliennes the veggies. That will save me SO MUCH TIME. It only got better from there:

That's right, a whole box full of tasty treats for me! That's a nice little picture, isn't it? Funny story, though - my mother gave me the Larabars because she couldn't stand the one she tried. I tried to explain that you have to give it a few bites, but she wasn't having it. More for me!

She saved the best for last, though. I am thrilled to introduce you to....another cookbook!

I had this on my Christmas Wish List, because I can never collect enough recipes that can be prepared quickly. I mean, seriously - I don't start cooking dinner until 8:30 at the very earliest on work nights.

I''ll leave you with a little tangent from that: My sister was born on Christmas Eve. Don't feel bad for her. She has never gotten a Christmas-Birthday present to my knowledge, specifically because everyone expects that she always gets Christmas-Birthday presents and they feel badly about that. It never happens. She makes out like a bandit. On the other hand, I was born 3 weeks after Christmas...which apparently makes it completely acceptable to give me Christmas-Birthday presents because that probably never happens. Nope, sorry - it happens every year. My parents have never done this to me, but I have grown accustomed to missing those great after-Christmas sales and the reason is this: I give them (at their request) a "Christmas list" every year, and have been doing so since I was a child and still thought I was writing to Santa. From that list, my mother takes advantage of the after-Christmas sales and the wealth of ideas provided to get my birthday presents as well. So every year, I have to wait for three weeks until my birthday (this year a little longer, but it was my own fault) to find out if there is anything on that list that I really wanted but didn't get and now have to buy myself.

The point of all this? Nothing really - I just had a great weekend and I don't want it to end!

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