I've been really busy these last two weeks, but finally am catching a brief break! I missed everyone!
Lots of events happened that I'd like to share about: I had a wonderful holiday dinner with my friends and their family, helped make a massive Easter dinner for hundreds (or at least 50+) of people, flew down to Southern California, and got a debilitating case of food poisoning--all in the process of two weekends! Doesn't sound like much when it is written out, but I am still exhausted!
First up, is a photo summary of the great dinner with my Southern California friends. My friends came up to spend the holidays with their family in the Bay Area, and generously invited me to join their entire family (and close family friends who earned the titles of "aunties" and "uncles") in a pre-Easter feast. My friends and I had a great time sharing and listening to stories, looking at (new) wedding pictures, catching up with one another, playing old skool Dr. Mario and Mario Cart on the Nintendo 64, and eating a sensational meal. The meal was even more delicious because of the great company (as my friend's mother wisely said). We dined on stir-fried greens cooked to perfection with pan-toasted garlic and a judicious amount of salt and pepper; and salmon steaks stewed in a Southeast Asian-style curry, which was thickened with coconut milk and flavored with tongue-penetratingly pungent lemongrass.
In addition to those items, my friend's mother had made gyoza (potstickers). The thin, chewy potsticker wrappers were seared crisp in a sizzling and oiled pan, filled with delectably seasoned ground meat and shredded cabbage, and served with an assortment of traditional sauces bespeckled with chili flakes and bold spices.
We also dined on sauteed kale, which had been wilted in a heated and oiled pan with liberal amounts of chopped garlic.
My personal favorite of the evening was the chicken, which was made with soy sauce, sesame oil, chopped scallions, and cilantro. The chicken was bursting with juices, and was tender to the bite. It wasn't overcooked to the point of being "fall-off-the-bone," was perfectly done--thus it still had a tiny bit of resistance as you tugged the meat off the bone with your clamped teeth. The scallion ringlets and the chopped cilantro leaves had melted their flavors into the chewy skin of the chicken, and the sesame oil permeated and infused the air and the meat with sweetness. That dish, more than any that night, gave me a warm and welcomed feeling in my stomach and in my heart. That dish reminded me of home.
After dinner on Saturday, on Sunday, it was off to help out with Easter dinner!
When I arrived, the industrial kitchen was bustling with face-less hands, spoons, and knifes in a constant state of chopping, stirring, washing, mixing, whisking, peeling, and pouring. I got right to work.
It was fun to help out with seasoning the roasts, plating (if you call what I did "plating") the sliced ham, and chopping the vegetables (including piles of yellow onions, bunches of rubberband-wrapped scallions, garlic heads from several mesh bags, several pounds of potatoes, and a box full of cabbage heads). My beau got to stir the soupy and boiling spinach and cream mixture in the three-foot-high pot for 2+ hours!
The final Easter menu included: 1) creamy mashed potatoes made with sour cream, cream cheese, smoked salmon, and scallions; 2) penne pasta with a sauce of pureed sun-dried tomatoes and chopped parsley; 3) coleslaw made with chopped cabbage, corn, vinegar, and mayonnaise; 4) creamed spinach; 5) marinated beef roasts served with a red wine and rosemary reduction; 6) baked ham with a brown sugar glaze, 7) peach cobbler, and 8) chocolate brownies dusted with powdered sugar.
Hope that gave you a tiny peek of what has been going on in my life these last two weekends. Essentially, I've been having great time being a passionate eater with my friends and family!