Tuesday, April 26, 2011

SIN & my BIG FAT Greek Easter

Do they still have the Seven Deadly Sins?  If so, I fear I'm going straight to Hell - do not pass go and do not collect $200.  How else can it go when my entire celebration of Jesus's act of reconciliation involved gluttony?  Well, okay, maybe not the whole celebration, but the part that occurred outside of the church.

After church, we dined with my in-laws (17 of us total) at Estia on Broad and Locust.  It was an extravagant affair to say the least.  Honestly, I would be lying (another sin, surely) if I didn't admit that my favorite part of lunch was seeing all of our family again - it doesn't happen frequently enough.  I'm pretty sure (unfortunately) that the last time I saw my parents-in-law was Christmas - and if that's not a sin, I don't know what is.  Mister and I had a little gift for our nephews, as well, and there is something priceless about watching children take turns pulling off the wrapping paper so they can share every part of the gift - they're good at being brothers.  So my true delight was in the people; my beautiful SIL, a cousin who brought his new lady friend, my little angel baby.  Of course, another priceless moment was when my father-in-law parked himself across from me, attentive waiter behind him, and asked if I would like some "voov," while making a drinking motion with his hand.  In my momentary ignorance, I thought he had learned a new Greek word for "drink," possibly "wine," but once the waiter nodded, noted, and walked away with my FIL, I realized he had just enlisted my assistance in drinking a bottle of Veuve Clicquot!  It helped wash down the huge amount of food that covered every square inch of the table (and some of the round ones) - fried zucchini, various spreads (baba ghanoush, muhammara, hummus, tzatziki) with bread, pita, and crudites, as well as amazing marinated peasant salads of red and orange tomatoes, red and green peppers, and cucumbers.  I barely had space for my entree and resolved, next time my entree will merely be a salad.  There were also three decadent, huge Greek desserts and Greek coffee.  I love Greek stuff - I'm so lucky to be married into this family!

After 15 hugs and kisses, we excused ourselves to run (in heels) to the train station.  We hopped on the train just as it was about to leave us, and 45 minutes later found ourselves in my dad's car.  Once we arrived at the house, I could finally relieve my purse of the jar full of rice, spices, and cashews that I'd carried to church and lunch.  Mom and a cousin were industriously chopping tomatoes for bruschetta while the littlest cousin hunted for plastic candy-filled eggs in my parents' verdant backyard.  While Mom and I started cooking, my dad showed everyone photos and video of me as an infant and toddler, then took the whole merry party down to the basement to play with his bordering-on-obsession trainset.  It takes up the entire basement.  He cut holes in the walls to let the trains go through "tunnels."  I told Dad he has to take this stuff down before he gets decrepit because I don't want to deal with it.  We all figured, though, that the littlest cousin, presently 2 years old, should at least be a teenager before this becomes an issue, so we'll just hire him and some friends for pizza.

Once the Black Bottom Pineapple Tofu on Coconut Cashew Rice (from Vegetarian Times: Fast and Easy) was done cooking, Mom and I set up the table and called everyone away from the fun to eat dinner.  My plate was delightfully colorful!

Taking up the majority of the plate was the tofu dish, accompanied (counter-clockwise) by a delightful strawberry-walnut salad my mom made, as well as an apple-sweet potato roast.  What a lovely springtime meal, don't you think?

So tonight is the first night of the new menu.  What menu?  Glad you asked:

1. Chili and Polenta Casserole also from Vegetarian Times: Fast and Easy, and hopefully, it comes together as quickly as they say it does, because this is going to be a busy week, methinks.

2. Pasta Marinara with Kale and Beans - although this will be accompanied by a new recipe for you (yay!), don't get too excited - it's going to be a cheater recipe (with a rockstar name).

3. Spring Vegetable Curry from The Accidental Vegan - why not?  It's spring and Mister Loves Asparagus.

4. Cajun Red Beans and Rice, also from The Accidental Vegan, because it's my fav-fav-favorite rice-n-beans recipe. 

5. Yakisoba, also from The Accidental Vegan, which was dinner tonight.

It's a little bit bland, but there is a subtle aftertaste of ginger and not quite enough garlic.  Of course, I wanted to use my new toy - a ginger grater, so I grated the garlic and I don't think I got as much out of each clove as I do when I press it.  It did a fantastic job on the ginger, though, so well done, Essene!  Best $5 I ever spent (especially after flirting with the $20 Microplane Special People Grater/Zester at Williams-Sonoma when I picked up the gifts for the nephews).  That $15 will go toward the Buy-Natalie-a-4qt-Saute-Pan fund.  Attempting to "toss" a pound of noodles with the veggies and sauce tonight in my 3-qt pan was quite an adventure and pushed me over the Suck-It-Up-and-Spend-the-$$$ edge.  After the rent gets paid :)

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