I completely forgot to tell you about my awesome day of work last Thursday! Since we surpassed our sales goals for November, all employees were awarded a $25 gift card! Woooooo! I ended up picking up a copy of Madhur Jaffrey's "World Vegetarian," which has been on my cookbooks to buy list for ages now, and a bar of Vosges chocolate. Have any of you experienced the pure, unparalleled pleasure that is Vosges chocolate? Click on the link above and go check out some of their products. These are, by far, the most incredible, unique, and perfect "candy bars" on planet Earth. I have tried the Barcelona, Calindia, Gianduja, Naga (probably my next purchase,) and Wooloomooloo bars, but my favorite to date has been the Black Pearl.
Imagine . . . the purest, richest, melt-in-your-mouth dark chocolate you can imagine, filled with black sesame seeds, and hints of ground ginger and wasabi powder. Holy. Chocolate. Heaven. They are worth every cent of the seven bucks they cost, (thank goodness I can get them at 25% off, and this time because of the gift card, it was FREE!), and several varieties will probably be my chocolate staple at home from now on.
The second reason my Thursday at work was so awesome was because my coworker, Ron, had an "Episcopalian Advent gift" (his exact words) for me! (He cracked a joke about whether, as a United Methodist, I could, in good faith, accept an Episcopalian Advent gift . . . I had no hesitations!) He was at Trader Joe's and bought me (and several of our other coworkers) a chocolate Advent calendar! I haven't had one of those in ages!
It's been super-fun getting to have a bite of chocolate with my breakfast every morning. :) I haven't had a chocolate Advent calendar in ages!
I know many of you may be interested in how the weekend went -- I think everyone had a good time! My parents and grandparents seemed to enjoy the Holidazzle parade, everyone enjoyed dinner at Brit's, and our concert on Sunday morning went well. My grandma was very happy to have a glimpse into my "world," so to speak, and she made a point of telling me that it looked like I had made a nice place for myself here. Dan liked the family, the family liked Dan, all is well. :) My parents had a few very nice Christmas gifts for me, including a waffle iron and a teakettle, and they enjoyed the aprons I bought for them very much! (They also had a couple little things for Dan -- my mom didn't want him to not have anything to open!) I also burned copies of the past year's choir concerts for my parents and grandparents, which they were excited to listen to later.
I did manage to get the tree decorated before the invasion. Oliver helped. :)
"Which ornament do you want to put up next, momma? I'll chew it to bits for you first, if you want."
"What went in here again? Regardless, this box is just my size. I would like to hide in here for a while."
The finished product:
In unrelated news, Oliver has begun climbing up on top of the kitchen cabinets again. He hasn't done this for quite some time . . . I wonder whether the slight weight loss he experienced when he was protesting the new food (which he happily eats now,) has contributed to him being more nimble? Perhaps.
Doesn't he look cute all the way up there? Cats are silly. :)
AND, last but not least, I managed to cook twice today! Michelle came over this afternoon to help me with a project, and I made us a lunch of cinnamon-vanilla waffles (using the new waffle iron -- woo!), tempeh and white bean sausage (from VwaV,) and grapefruit. It took a little while to figure out how much batter the waffle iron needed, but they were mighty tasty, regardless of what shape they ended up being!
Tonight, it was getting close to dinnertime, and I was hungry, but not in the mood to cook much, nor did much of anything look terribly inspiring to me. I ended up digging through my cabinets, finding inspiration in the barley, and making up this barley, mushroom, and white bean pilaf! It's pretty plain, (and not much to look at,) but very tasty, healthy, and filling:
All I did was saute some onion, celery, a bunch of mushrooms, and garlic in oil until soft, added some dried fines herbs and crushed fennel seeds, vegetable broth, salt, pepper, and quick-cooking barley, brought it all to a boil, covered the pan and let it simmer for 12 minutes. I then stirred in 2 cups of cooked white beans and a few splashes of balsamic vinegar, before covering the pilaf and allowing it to sit for 5 minutes. Yum! More vinegar next time I think, but otherwise, superb!
Tomorrow begins my "seven-day stretch," (I work the next seven days in a row,) so wish me luck!