Sunday, October 31, 2010

halloweens past and present

Happy Halloween!

When I was a kid, Halloween was a pretty big deal.  My mom did a great job each year, helping my sister and I assemble something that resembled a princess costume (me), or a ghost, or an angel, or a witch, or, as I got older and spunkier, a punk rocker.  One of my laziest and most obscure Halloween "costumes" was the time I wore a Curtis Institute sweatshirt with jeans and told people I was an opera singer on her day off, because "they look like everyone else!"  My adult costumes were only marginally more creative.  One year, I put on a shirt from the Gap and a pair of jeans, then pulled back my hair so you couldn't see the purple and blue streaks and refrained from wearing more makeup than just mascara.  I was a "normal person" and I made my boss laugh so hard he actually started choking.  Another year I was a cowgirl, which was probably the best costume I had that didn't make me cold, like the year I was a 1940s pin-up girl in a vintage slip and fishnets.  Then there was the year I was Grizabella the Glamour Cat which eventually deteriorated to just A Black Cat.

My dad recently found a picture of me he took that year, so if you ever wondered what I looked like about 10 years ago as a cat, wonder no more...

Forgive me; I hadn't yet grasped the importance of shaping one's eyebrows or even just plucking absurdly stray eyebrow hairs...Anyway, Mister isn't a big fan of Halloween and we live in an apartment building so we don't get any Trick-or-Treaters, so I would be hard pressed to tell you the last time I dressed up for the holiday, but I did get my hair done today in preparation for the darker months ahead.

Please pardon the weak, cheesy half-smile.  I felt kind of stupid doing a full-on "yay, look how much fun I'm having" toothy grin, so this is what you get.  We left a few bits of red in my bangs, but the rest is as black as a moonless midnight.

Tonight, we had the Moroccan Lentil Stew from the October 2010 issue of Vegetarian Times magazine.  I used the Dr. McDougall's brand called for in the recipe, and I'll grant that it is a low sodium soup, but it's not doing that label any favors - If I make this again, I will have to add at least a 1/2 tsp of salt to compensate for it's general blandness.  It was okay, but nothing to waste my time or yours babbling about, especially when I have a new menu after the picture and VeganMoFo starts tomorrow!

For the first full week of November and VeganMoFo, here's the plan:

1. Spicy Rice and Bean Burritos from an advertisement for Eden foods in the latest VegNews magazine.  It looks tasty and easy and I'm happy with both of those things.  Additionally, from a VMF standpoint, I've never used canned rice-n-beans and I'll admit, I'm a bit trepidatious about that, so it should make for at least an interesting write-up.

2. Garlicky Caramelized Seitan with Roasted Potatoes also from VegNews.  This was the only savory recipe in an entire, mouth-watering section on homemade caramel.  I'm a little concerned about Mister's reaction to this, but I've never made my own caramel and I think it could be a fascinating flavor combination.  You know I'll report back!

3. Monk Bowl with Lemon-Miso Tahini sauce, both from The 30 Minute Vegan.  I knew I wanted to make this upon returning home the moment we had our bowls at Native Foods in California.  I've never made the tahini sauce, but it sounds fun.

4. Pasta Florentine, also from 30MV.  I realized after I picked this that it hasn't quite been a month since I last made it.  I just thought it would be fun and I was craving that Frozen Organic SuperSpinach.  It will also be a great way to finish off the roasted garlic loaf with more tuscan dipping sauce.

5. Homey Vegetable Stew with Dumplings, also from 30MV.  The spelt flour in my cupboard is getting bored.  Plus, this is one of the few recipes I have with an accurate adjective in the title - I can't think of a better word to describe this dish than homey.  Possibly heart-warming.  Cozy?  Can you call stew "cozy?"

Saturday, October 30, 2010

overkill makes the broth unnecessary

I'm pretty good at overreacting.  Most of the time, I can keep myself in check (after years of admonishing looks from Mister when I was on the verge of being a high-maintenance girlfriend).  Since I don't want to be "that" girl/woman, I've done my best to purge myself of neurotic tendencies, but there is one area in which I am completely willing to look crazy, and that is when something directly relates to my health.

When I was in high school, I was known for my singing and I had every intention of always being known for my singing, so I was super-protective of my voice and all the parts of me that contributed to it.  The minute there was a little chill in the air, I was in a turtleneck and sweater and if, heaven forbid, someone was smoking near me or the air was really cold, I had no hesitation about pulling the turtleneck up over my mouth and nose to warm/filter the air around me.

Ever since I became a grown-up, and more importantly a vegetarian, it has been increasingly rare for me to fall ill.  When that happens, I usually do three things: sleep as much as possible, drink detox tea and eat nutrient-dense foods, and bundle up to excess.

So, before I left my home to teach today, I assembled the following outfit:
thigh-high knit socks under knee-high boots under an ankle-length skirt with an undershirt under a thermal shirt, topped with a scarf, my winter [wool] coat, with gloves.  I stepped out of the building and immediately noticed that I had overreacted a bit to a sunny, mid-50s day.  I comforted myself by remembering that I would return to pitch darkness and probably exactly 50 degrees, possibly less.  Even if the temperature didn't budge an inch, I had significantly fewer sniffles and sneezes today and I would prefer not to relapse tomorrow.

Dinner closely echoed my outfit overkill; in my excitement to include plenty of good-for-me fresh veggies in my soup, the broth was kind of like a second thought - there was very little point to its existence other than to puff out the bulgur and make me believe it was really soup.

Buckwheat Bulgur-Black Bean Soup from the October 2010 issue of Vegetarian Times magazine was as tasty as it is beautiful.  I really enjoy the color combination of the top three colors of the rainbow and I think the black beans do a great job bringing out their complementary but still contrasted colors.  The recipe said to shred the carrots, but I'm really not a fan of shredding carrots - it makes a mess that can really only be justified by carrot cake.  So, I julienned them with my favorite kitchen toy instead.  I don't think my mother knew just how helpful that bad boy would be, or how very much use he would get - I think she just thought it was cool.

Angst is apparently trying to put on his "winter weight," which means he's eating as though he'll never eat again...which was reinforced when he ran out of food before I had a chance to get him new food.  He spent most of his waking minutes today convinced he was starving to death.  Fortunately, I was aware of his plight and stopped by Superfresh on my way home to pick up his dinner.  While I was there, I thought a nice accompaniment to our soup dinner would be a nice loaf of artisan bread to dip in broth and/or the dipping sauce I wanted to share with Mister (as far as I'm concerned, that little $5 tin has already paid for itself).  Since it's autumn, Superfresh decided that all the bread should have raisins (Mister's arch-nemesis), but with a little spy-power, I was able to locate and snatch up one of two loaves of roasted garlic bread.  It went very nicely with both the dipping sauce and the soup.

I made a bit more tonight and between Mister's and my delight for the dipping sauce and Mister's proclivity toward using bread as a soup scoop, we made it through half the loaf tonight!  Maybe I'll skip the rice in our Moroccan Lentil Stew tomorrow and just let Mister use up the rest of the bread as lavash instead!

Friday, October 29, 2010

cold = simple overload

So, sometime after I got home last night, I sneezed at least ten times in a row, then proceeded to snuffle my way through the rest of the night.  That happens sometimes, as though there is some latent allergen in the air on my walk home from the train which waits until I'm home to make its attack.  I used nasal spray, which is completely against my nature, but I was getting really darn tired of sneezing and blowing my nose (my poor red nose also objected). 

Now would be an appropriate time to clue you in on why I generally don't treat any of my ailments (not that there are many) with drugs: for one, the long list of side effects which accompanies all meds make me wary; when I was a child, I can remember wondering how the little white pill knew that my head hurt and not something else.  As I grew older, I became more aware of the side effects, which essentially mean that the little white pill is really just making its best guess and probably messing up something else in the process.  The other reason that I specifically don't take medications for my respiratory system is that they always seem to do the opposite to me that they do to everyone else.  Cases in point:
  • the most alert I have ever been in the morning was the result of an utterly sleepless night thanks to Sudafed.  I was "high" for 36 hours before crashing at a dance club and nearly losing consciousness on a chaise.
  • the second most alert I have been was the time I took Nyquil immediately before going to bed so I wouldn't keep Mister up with all my snuffling.  It did, in fact, prevent me from snuffling and coughing through the night, but it also prevented me from getting a single wink of sleep.
  • Contac Day and Night meds have bizarre and opposite effects on me.  The happy yellow Day pills make me fall asleep for exactly two hours, then I wake up and I'm fine for the rest of the dose.  The evil blue Night pills give me muscle spasms; on a minutely basis, every muscle in my body tenses and releases.  Not comfy and not terribly conducive to sleep.
So, back to the nasal spray story, armed with that new and pertinent information.  Can you guess what happened?

Yes.  It did make it worse.  My nose refused to stop running, so half a box of tissues later, I read the side effects (yes, that was stupid) and found that on a few freak people, it irritates the nasal passages and increases snot production.  Guess who's a freak?

So, although I made a serious effort to get to work today, when I still wasn't ready to walk out the door two hours after I woke up because I had spent so much time blowing and/or dabbing at my poor, abused nose to do other important things like putting on my shoes, I called my boss and called it a day.  I slept most of today, but when the sun started to set, I thought I should probably try to be conscious for a little while and see if Mister needed dinner.  A couple of hours after joining Mister and Angst in wakefulness, I stood in the kitchen trying to decide whether the Moroccan Lentil Stew or the Bulgur-Black Bean soup would require less (germ-covered) hands-on time.  As I was pondering, a [probably germ-fearing] compassionate Mister asked if I would like him to pick something up for dinner.

Blackbird to the rescue!  Yes, Mister, I would like the Yukon Pizza with all its delightful, paper-thin, crispy potatoes spread over the focaccia-like crust and liberally sprinkled with sea salt and rosemary.  I swear, it's like someone took homemade potato chips and stuck them on a pizza instead of a baking sheet.

And while you're out, why don't you also get me one of their salads?  I think the Antipasto Salad sounds fabulous, with marinated slices of eggplant, strips of roasted red peppers, seitan pepperoni, and thin slices of baked tofu on a bed of mixed greens.

Because of the thick, puffy nature of the outer crust (the part not smothered in salty, potatoey goodness), I decided to play with one of my new herb-spice blends from Oliver's.  I used a heaping 1/4 teaspoon of the Tuscan Seasoning, spritzed on two sprinkles of white wine vinegar (you know, the amount that comes out when you leave the 3-holed plastic thing on top of the bottle), then stirred in about 2 Tbsp of higher quality olive oil to make a dipping sauce.  It was everything I wanted it to be and I can still taste the garlic...mmm....

Time to clean the cat hair off of my faithful winter coat, because it seems the time for light jacket passed sometime last night.  If I make it through without too many snuffles, I may reward myself with a glass of tempranillo-shiraz and a square of dark chocolate.

Who am I kidding?  Unless I lose consciousness before I finish, I most certainly will reward myself.  Even if I'm a complete slacker tomorrow and Sunday, I promise I will actually cook for my impending VeganMoFo posts!

Thursday, October 28, 2010

back to basics

Today was Monday, in a sense.  I went back to work today, but tomorrow is still Friday, which is definitely the way to go back to work.  Tomorrow, Philadelphia plans to remind us that it IS actually autumn - this will be demonstrated by way of a 20 degree difference in high temperatures between today and tomorrow.

I figured I should probably use that as my guide for the few dinners on my mini-menu.   I chose hot dogs because the stew and soup will probably be better suited for the next couple nights (as well as received more kindly by a shivery Mister).  Believe me, I wouldn't ordinarily peg a dinner made completely from prepared foods and no fresh veggies as the first meal I would cook after a vacation from my kitchen.

Nevertheless, when Sister and I had our Cajun meal in Disney, the baked beans reminded me of two things: first, they reminded me how much I love baked beans.  Second, and possibly more importantly, they reminded me that every once in a while, it's okay to make a "simple" dinner.  I don't have to plunk down a culinary masterpiece each night, nor do I have to stretch my creative wings each time I don't have a recipe handy.  Every now and then, it is not just okay, but fun to open a can of baked beans to heat up alongside the sauerkraut while the water is boiling for the veggie dogs and the whole wheat buns are warming in the toaster oven.

In other news, Mister is very proud of me: after all these years (also known as My Life), I've finally started to load my hot dogs up with stuff.  It's not really a hot dog for Mister if it doesn't also involve a pickle, sauerkraut, ketchup, mustard, and sometimes potato chips for crunch.  Pretty much all of my life, I've been perfectly content to eat a hot dog on a bun.  That's it.  No fancy condiments or pickled vegetables for me, sir, just the dog.  Tonight, Mister watched happily as I squirted ketchup down the center inside of my dog, then topped it with a generous bit of sauerkraut.

In case you have a thing for brand names, or are just curious and starting out on this whole delightful meatless journey, we had Jumbo Smart Dogs, Heinz Vegetarian Baked Beans, and store brand sauerkraut, flanked by Heinz ketchup and store brand spicy brown mustard on Arnold's Whole Wheat buns.

A couple of items in the Coming Attractions:
First, I have opened a Twitter account for the blog - I would love for you to follow me @AngstLvsSpinach.  I'll be posting when I put up a new post for your reading pleasure, as well as any other fun and useful things I come across.

Also, there are just a few days until World Vegan Day (Nov. 1st) which kicks off this year's fourth annual VeganMoFo!  I plan on trying to post every single day - In addition to some fabulous new autumn recipes and Thanksgiving prep, I'll be doing another round-up or two (hint: there will be chocolate) and covering a couple of special topics.  If there's anything you'd like to read about or if you have a favorite omni recipe in need of tasteful vegan conversion, feel free to drop a line and let me know!

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

better get this party started (picture parade)

you can hear the soundtrack to today's post here.

I guess I'll start at the beginning, a very good place to start (please pardon what will probably be a plethora of lyrical puns).  Like I mentioned in my first mini-post, we spent pretty well all of day 1 traveling from Philadelphia to Los Angeles by way of St. Louis, flying Southwest Airlines.  In case you've never had the pleasure (I hadn't), it's a different experience than any I've had on other airlines.  They do this first-come-first-served seating thing, where you're assigned a queue when you check in.  The earlier you check in, the better place you get in "line," which means you have an advantage in the melee that occurs during boarding.  We missed that on the flight out, boarding just about dead last since we checked in at the airport, so we had to sweet-talk a young man into giving me his seat so I could sit with Mister.

Southwest flight attendants are quite friendly and on our flight from Philly to St Louis, we had a whole crew of flamboyantly gay men, one of whom donned a bedazzled apron when he served drinks and snacks.  That's right - snacks.  I don't know how Southwest stays in business - two free checked bags per passenger, free drinks, low fares, and free snacks, which were passed around by a smiling man saying to take as many as you want.  Unless, of course, the established airlines are just taking us all for a ride...

I had no expectations for the veg-friendliness of the St. Louis airport, but Mister was pleased to find a Dunkin' Donuts (his happy place) and I was happy to find the requisite Starbucks.  There were two things that really surprised me, though, upon landing at Los Angeles:
1. the airport was much smaller than I expected it to be.  Of course, we only saw the Southwest area.
2. there was very little in the way of vegetarian fare at the airport and nothing vegan.  I thought this was odd, considering how veg-friendly California is supposed to be.

After sleeping like a couple of rocks, Mister and I beat our alarm to waking up for our first full day in the Golden State.  We took advantage of the hotel-provided breakfast and were on our way to Anaheim.  Mister and Brother(in-law) went to Blizzcon; Sister, Nephew, and I went to Disneyland:

Pumpkin Mickey Mouse on Main St
We went to Tomorrowland first, I think.  I've never been to Disneyland, but I've been to Disney World several times and my favorites places were always Tomorrowland, Fantasyland, and Frontierland, so we hit them up almost in that order.  We couldn't really go on any rides because Nephew is just a little guy and I'm not huge on rides anyway, but we did tour the House of Tomorrow, which was supposed to be all full of exciting innovations but ended up being a living infomercial for ABC (tv), Honda, Microsoft, and a few other companies.  Regardless, I saw the kitchen of my dreams...

We stopped by Frontierland next because Sister thought I would enjoy a cajun restaurant in Disney's version of New Orleans.  I had a delicious veggie po'boy with baked beans (sans pork) and a fruit salad.  It was delicious and inspired one of the items on my short menu (to follow) for what remains of this week.

After lunch we traveled to the Haunted Mansion, which was all decked out for Halloween in the style of "The Nightmare Before Christmas," one of my favorite holiday movies.

After saying hello to Jack Skellington, we made our way to Fantasyland via Cinderella's Castle.  It's far more colorful and Victorian in style than the one in Disney World, but it is also undeniably smaller and less faerie-tale-esque.  I'd still be pretty darn happy to live in it, though (with that kitchen, of course)!

prettiest darn drinking fountain I've ever seen

Me and Sister-dear

my two favorite Disney Villains of all time - Cruella DeVil and Maleficent
 After seeing all of the Lands of Disney, Sister directed me toward Downtown Disney, which is apparently a little shopping/eating area between Disneyland and California Disney Adventure (we didn't go there).  We were dazzled by stores full of sparkly princess dresses and I tried to convince Sister that Nephew was entirely too young to be defined by silly things like gender roles, but she wasn't buying.  We did agree, though, that the next baby should be a little girl.

While Nephew was eating some lemon gelato, I popped into a Sephora store on the strip and came out with these two treasures:

also, my new zebra-print scarf!

After Disney, we went to a little place in San Clemente for dinner called Carbonara.  The food was delightful and their bread was amazing. Even more amazing than my Butternut Ravioli and our glasses of SuperTuscan was the dessert tray.  Sister and I couldn't resist these little bits of heaven - Strawberries on Chocolate Mousse in candied almond shells with dark chocolate coating inside.  I think it would be safe to say there was nothing vegan about this dessert, but it was my vacation and sometimes, you have to break the "rules."

Day 3 of our California Dream saw Mister and Brother off to Blizzcon again, while Sister, Nephew, and I flexed our shopping muscles at an outdoor mall, The Spectrum.  This place was incredible - a carousel, ferris wheel, and a train for little ones, as well as multiple fountains and sidewalk cafes, both of which I love.

We lunched at Veggie Grill, which was incredible and a little overwhelming.  It is a completely vegan restaurant, right down to their delectable chocolate pudding and chipotle ranch dipping sauce.  I'm not ashamed to say I was literally salivating while pondering the menu.

My lunch included the All Hail Kale salad with candied walnuts and a citrusy vinaigrette, accompanied by the to-die-for sweet potato fries and chipotle dipping sauce.

Sister indulged in the Baja Fiesta Salad with crispy tortilla strips on top of papaya and mango.

Nephew's lunch consisted of "chicken" nuggets and sweet potato fries.  It also came with chocolate pudding that Sister gave me because she doesn't want the little one developing a taste for sweets.

After a filling but not terribly bloating lunch, we headed over to Urban Outfitters.  For my wedding, three years ago today, a friend gave us a generous gift card to Urban Outfitters.  Unfortunately, the one in Philadelphia sucks, so all I've successfully purchased there was a pair of socks.  I was happy to see many more things in this one that I would be willing to put on my body.  I ended up with a pair of fingerless gloves and the adorable owl book I used to keep track of my adventures.

We also stopped into a few other stores where I could go broke (White House Black Market, I'm looking at you), I got two fun sweaters from Wet Seal, we played on the carousel and got coffee at The Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf and did a little people watching at the outdoor cafe.  I have to admit, I felt like a rockstar and I was completely amused by how dolled up everyone was - the teenagers are so good at emulating their favorite celebrities, Sister and I made multiple sightings of Mylie Cyrus and Taylor Swift.  The moms were pretty high fashion, too.  Moms on the East Coast generally relegate themselves to jeans and sneakers.  These moms?  Stilettos, skinny jeans, big bug sunglasses, styled hair, dripping with jewelry but not in a trashy way... it was pretty impressive.

We stopped into Trader Joe's for some provisions, including "Two Buck Chuck," which Sister insisted that I had to try.  I was still adjusting to the idea of buying wine at a grocery store.  We also got a Shiraz-Cabernet blend as back-up.

San Clemente beach

more San Clemente Beach - not a bad picture for an out-dated cellphone

adorable little gate in Sister's white picket fence

Back "home," Sister played SuperMom, baking our spaghetti squash while ordering pizza and putting the little one to sleep.  I'd never had spaghetti squash before, so while the Misters chomped on spinach pizza, Sister and I had Spaghetti Squash Marinara with our Two Buck Chuck (which was actually pretty drinkable!).

The next day, all five of us packed into the 1992 Camry sedan and headed to Blizzard Entertainment to see where Brother spends most of his waking hours.  On the way, we passed the Gingerbread House, which is the most photographed house in the area and has apparently managed to do wonders for upping property values.

scary ork on a beasty outside of Blizzard

glamour shot of the ork

Afterwards, we lunched at another sidewalk cafe "inside" another outdoor mall.  This time, Native Foods tempted our palates.  

doesn't everyone have an outdoor fireplace in their outdoor mall?  I mean, it has to get cold sometime, doesn't it?

fountain view from cafe

Mister's Gyro Bowl with a toasted pita, seitan standing in for the standard lamb, and vegan tzatziki sauce saturating the seitan and veggies

Sister's Soul Bowl with veggies, beans and rice, BBQ sauce over Ranch Dressing and a hunk of cornbread

My Hollywood Bowl - grilled tofu on skewers, painted with peanut sauce and laid atop broccoli, kale, cauliflower, and carrots, as well as brown rice and more peanut sauce, with a side of sweet potato fries

We decided to walk off lunch and Sister and I happened upon a little koi pond.  This "little" fella wanted to say, "hello!"

me and Mister
 We finished lunchtime with a trip to Peet's Coffee, where I got a caramel soy latte.  That night, we dined at a cute little Italian place which has earned a place in our California Family's heart, Fratello's.  The food was good and the atmosphere appropriate for a family.  Something I noticed at the Coffee Bean (of all places) and was confirmed by our dinner at Fratello's is that the menu doesn't always mean anything.  I ordered Angelhair Pomodoro, which was defined as being tomatoes, olive oil, garlic, and basil.  I ordered this because it sounded delicious and because sometimes they sneak parmesan cheese into the ubiquitous marinara sauce, so I thought I'd played it safe...until my pomodoro sauce came spiked with parmesan.  I also had two "Americanos" from the Coffee Bean which appeared to be spiked with milk, even though an Americano is just espresso with water.

After dinner, we retired to Sister/Brother's house to watch Star Trek XI and drink some wine.  The next morning, our last full day in Sunny San Clemente, the family picked us up and we had brunch by the Pacific Ocean at the Beach Garden Cafe.  Ironically, I could not get enough fresh fruit during this vacation, so I was thrilled by the size of my fruit salad - mostly cantelope and pineapple, which was fine by me.

view from our sidewalk table

After brunch, we strolled the Avenida del Mar, including a fruitful stop into Oliver's Olive Oil which resulted in three delightful herb-n-spice blends finding their way into my bag (after I paid for them!).  That place is amazing and I will happily stop in each time I visit Sister in the future.  They have dozens of olive oils and balsamic vinegars that you can taste before you buy.  There are also artisan salts in glass jars or samplers and special home-made pastas.  This store is a foodie's heaven.

After a filling brunch and an afternoon in the sun, we were feeling a little drowsy, so we stopped by the Coffee Bean for a pick-me-up.  Amazingly, even though I specifically said to the young barista, "No Milk," my Americano was still not black.  I'm hoping that the hazelnut flavoring is an opaque, Bailey's color, but for now, Starbucks and their the-same-every-time Americanos are winning in my heart.

sunset at our hotel the last night
 After a brief recess to the hotel so Mister and I could start packing up for our departure the following day, the Family picked us up for a final dinner at Thai This in Dana Point.  It was adorable and the wait staff loved Nephew, so they didn't mind him dumping rice all over the table after Mom and Dad put some on his little plate.  The names and descriptions for the entrees were hilarious; my favorite description included this: "Yippee Ki-Yay, Mother Father!"

After some Family Pictures the next day, Brother drove us to LAX for the return home, whereupon I got detained by security, keeping my record of never making it home easily intact.  They felt the need to keep the Huckleberry jam I had purchased during our layover at St. Louis, and I was free to I went directly to Starbucks for a nice, black-as-night, Hazelnut Americano and a banana.  On the long way home, I went through the Vegetarian Times and Real Simple magazines I had with me and constructed a short menu, which I'm going to shop for in a few moments.  The menu is:

1. Hot Dogs with Sauerkraut and Baked Beans, inspired by the simplicity of the baked beans at Disneyland reminding me that I've become so caught up in putting some new gourmet feast on the table every night, I've forgotten how fun it is just to have "normal" food.

2. Moroccan Lentil Stew with Raisins Cranberries from the October 2010 issue of Vegetarian Times.

3. Buckwheat-Black Bean Soup, also from the October 2010 issue of Veg. Times.  I may sub out bulgur for the buckwheat...we'll see.

I'll leave you with some final pictures of the haul I brought home:

my spiffy 1980s-inspired sweater with the more sedate black v-neck beside it and my new black fingerless gloves on top

my three seasoning blends from Oliver's, plus two jars of my beloved McCormicks Garam Masala which I finally found at Albertson's.  It took a lot of self-control to only buy two.

I love Snickerdoodle coffee and apparently, only people in California agree with me.

This is a baby Murloc, a mythical sea creature from the World Of Warcraft.  Mister made the mistake of showing me how adorable they are when he was playing one day, so he made up for it by standing in line for 30 minutes at Blizzcon to get me my very own little Murloc.  His name is Gurky.