Sunday, May 15, 2011

fabulous weekend > blogger

Apparently, blogger just couldn't handle all the awesome I was going to post, so in anticipation of fab-overload, it just shut down.  For like two days.  Fortunately, it will likely result in a bonus post sometime in the next 24 hours, as long as I can hide enough of the awesome from blogger to prevent it from running away and hiding in a safe, dark corner somewhere.

Where to begin?  Well, I guess we'll have to go back to Thursday night and recap our dining adventures:

Finally, I made Penne with Spinach and Chickpeas in Garlic Sauce from Quick Vegetarian Pleasures.  I'm on a serious Italian-flavor/pasta kick at the moment.  I am giving serious thought to an All-Mediterranean menu for the upcoming week, just to get it out of my system...  Funny about that - when I was choosing which of the final three dinners to make on Thursday night, I wanted to make this one more than anything else, yet I was conflicted because I knew that the last two dinners were both Asian-influenced and I wasn't crazy about the idea of serving them back-to-back.  Not to fear!  As you'll learn later in this post, they both survived menu selection to be spread across a second week!

Again, I haven't cooked from QVP in over a year, maybe longer, which means it's been a long time since I've had this dish, though it was a fairly regular part of the rotation when I had fewer cookbooks.  I could already taste its memory as I started preparing the garlic and tomatoes (which are quickly becoming my favorite things to saute together in some olive oil) and as I was stirring in the spinach, I could almost feel its silky texture against my tongue.

It became evident someone else also wanted to feel the silky texture of spinach against his tongue.  I tried to remind Angst that he only likes raw spinach and that he'd already eaten all of his pieces, but he was insistent.  We got about one minute and two bites into dinner before his incessant begging and big sad eyes got the better of Mister, who tossed a slimy piece of "broken" spinach on the ground so Angst would remember and leave us alone.

That plan utterly backfired as we watched, amazed, as Angst happily slurped up his slimy spinach and looked up for more.  They say your tastes change as you get older.  I figured that only applied to humans, but since Angst has decided, only a week after his eleventh birthday, that he likes cooked spinach now, I guess I figured wrong.

Speaking of figuring wrong...

In February, Kelly at Living On The Vedge published a less than enthusiastic review of Amande almondmilk yogurt.  Fortunately for Amande, in February I have very little interest in eating yogurt.  I associate yogurt almost exclusively with breakfast that also involves fresh berries and homemade granola, so it doesn't usually make the grocery list in the colder months of the year.  Having stumbled upon Kelly's not-so-favorable review of their product, the fine folks at Amande wanted to make good.  They explained that they have recently changed the recipe and wanted her to try their newer run of products, so they sent her a little care package in which she received her favored flavors: vanilla and plain.  She had much prettier words for the almondmilk yogurt this time around, so when I saw it on the shelf at Whole Foods last week, I thought I'd give it a try.

I got the blueberry flavor, as neither the vanilla nor plain flavors have found their way to [my] Whole Foods yet.  I got it home, put it in the fridge, and promptly wussed out.  It occurred to me that if WF didn't have the new flavors, maybe they still had the run of yogurt that wasn't so good.  I let it sit there for nearly a week, even though I exchanged glances with the little plastic cup every time I opened the fridge.  Finally, as Mister was hogging the bathroom getting ready for his brother's wedding, I decided to go for it, hoping it would at least sustain me until we got through traffic to the venue (it did).

I'll admit, I was a little...underwhelmed...terrified when I peeled off the top to find a solid, slightly jiggly, light periwinkle mass inside.  It remained completely unattractive as I did my best to whip it into something appetizing with my spoon.  Finally, I decided to just taste it and see if it was worth stirring before using up all my precious energy.  The very first thing I noticed was how light it tasted - kind of like a little blue cloud of slightly sweet goo.  Not bad goo, either.  It was a mild tasting yogurt, certainly more sweet than tart and without an overpowering fruit flavor, which in this case was perfect.

While I don't think Amande will take up permanent residence in my fridge, it's nice to know there is another nondairy yogurt available for the times I don't feel like the sometimes cloying sweetness of Silk and don't feel like spending twice as much for So Delicious's coconutmilk yogurt.  I am looking forward to trying the vanilla flavor, as well as dressing up the plain or using it to make tzatziki some day in the future, but I won't be breaking down anyone's door while I wait.

This afternoon, after teaching a couple of lessons, I stopped by my oldest student's high school graduation party.  I was amazed at how happy she was to see me and how closely she stayed by my side - as though it was my party and she was the one who didn't know anyone.  Turns out we're having some uncertainty about the future with a little bit of separation anxiety thrown in for flavor.

Isn't she beautiful?  I am so proud of her and I'm having my own selfish moments of not wanting her to grow up and leave me.  I have been teaching that little girl beautiful young lady since she was just a timid little 8 year old.  It has been such a blessing to me to watch her grow up and I count it a privilege to be a part of that.

After a few hours, a couple of glasses of wine and some tasty Italian desserts, I got back on the train and headed home.  After arriving home, I realized Angst needed food and kitty litter, so I put my jacket back on.  Since he was seated by his window, Mister decided there were entirely too many "icky people" outside for me to go to Superfresh unescorted, so he shoved his feet in his shoes and came with me.  We stepped out onto the sidewalk and immediately breathed in the heavenly scent wafting from the open door of Hostaria da Elio and found ourselves hungry for rich, flavorful Italian food (anyone surprised?).  When we reached Superfresh, I suggested picking up a couple of ingredients for our own Italian feast.

I can't tell you how pleased I was with the way this sauce came out.  I picked up a jar of Classico Cabernet Marinara, but then remembered how little texture jarred sauces have, so I also grabbed a can of diced tomatoes.  Since I got the garlic-n-olive-oil kind, I didn't want to drain the tomatoes, but I also did not want a wretchedly watery sauce.  Here is where the only love I can muster for science makes a brief appearance: I sauteed some garlic, added the tomatoes, turned the heat up high and watched the magic of evaporation reduce my tomatoes to a potent sauce base.  In the last three minutes, after almost all of the original liquid had disappeared, I added the jarred sauce, stirred everything up and reduced the heat while I drained the pasta.

Oh yes, and while I retrieved the garlic bread from the toaster oven.  I love my toaster oven.  I also love $1.25 sticks of french bread just the right size for Mister and I to each have two generous pieces of garlic bread.

Simple?  Quite.  Delicious and flavorful?  You bet.  Did Angst beg?

Does the Pope.... just kidding.  Yes, of course Angst begged.  Once again, we tried to remind him he doesn't like garlic, but he was not to be deterred by silly things like that.  Once again, Mister pulled a piece of his bread off and dropped the Angst-sized "crumb" on the floor.  Once again, my grumpy old man decided to show that his tastebuds have matured with this recent birthday and ate it all up and asked for more.

Mister has become far more attached to his little partner in crime than he is willing to admit most days.  Granted, I work 6 days a week, so the last thing on my mind is buying gifts for a creature who is unaware of what a birthday even is, but Mister really wanted to get the kitty birthday presents.

Here is Angst's cute new food bowl (water bowl beneath).  Around the outside it says "kittykat" and they are just the right size.  He also got the little bugger a new stash of catnip for dessert.  So "happy birthday" to my little punk!


  1. Happy kitty birthday!

    Amande did improve the product but I kinda feel like you do, not in any rush to buy it now. I like it with fruit and granola but on its own it is still an odd taste for me. I think the coconut greek yogurt is going to be the thing that satisfies my craving. Haven't seen it in stores yet!

  2. Those were exactly my thoughts - as I was typing up the post, I kept coming back to, "but when will the coconut greek yogurt be available??" I'm very excited for that and I hope it's not a letdown.