DSC_0201We had the most epic weekend this past weekend. I got to check two things off my bucket list: see a Beatle perform live and meet an idol. On Friday, we drove down to Portland after work to see Paul McCartney perform. It was an unbelievable production, lasting 3 hours. Of course the music was incredible, but so was the artistry of the lighting, graphics, media, pyrotechnics, everything. It felt surreal to see an artist as influential as Paul perform and he was truly a gentleman and a real class act. He told stories, paid tribute to friends, performed a variety of songs from all stages of his career and genuinely seemed grateful to still be performing sold-out concerts worldwide. I can’t fully describe what an amazing experience it was to see him. Let’s just say I cried. A lot. It was overwhelming.

Sriracha Deviled EggsI got to play with a kitten yesterday at the Internet Cat Video Festival and it was the best. On Sunday, I got to hang out with some cool middle-aged and older cats. Equally the best. I could go on for hours about why I love volunteering at The Humane Society, but now that I am officially at the level where I can handle/socialize with the cats, I am thrilled. You see, there are many steps you have to take over the course of several months, in order to be allowed to handle the cats, for safety reasons (and also to make sure you’re a serious/committed volunteer). You do a LOT of cleaning of cages and food bowls. You dump a lot of stinky litter boxes in the trash. You build lots of hidey boxes and the more exciting adoption boxes for kitties to go home. You feed lots of cats their dinner. You clean up the messes they make in their cages while they watch you with feigned interest. You talk to a lot of cats and start to question your sanity as you meow back at them while doing the dishes (so many dishes). There are so many steps before the glorious day where it’s just you and a cat or kitten, chilling in an adoption room, as you play, pet and observe them to give them a stellar write-up about why they would be the perfect home companion. But when the day arrives that they go home, it is worth it. Knowing that your personal attention with a 12-y.o. senior cat, who might have arthritis issues and not be able to jump up, but will purr like a motor and let you pet him for an eternity, helped to get him a home the next day? Priceless. 

DSC_0300Though we do not define ourselves strictly as “southerners,” there are certain things that remind us of “down-home” cooking that we not-so-secretly enjoy indulging in. In the months after we’ve moved, we’ve become increasingly more interested in cooking things from the South and expanding what we have always enjoyed about Southern cooking, into a strictly-vegetarian palate. It sounds like a contradiction, but it’s true! Not everything is chicken & waffles or BBQ. In doing so, this was one of our first ventures into pairing Southern-style foods to make a fully vegetarian meal, not lacking a meat-focused central component. This ended up being dinner AND lunch leftovers one week and while it makes a ton of servings, it certainly fills you up every single time.

Happy freshman move-in day, William & Mary! It’s almost impossible to believe that 8 years ago, we were moving into our freshman dorms and wouldn’t even meet each other for months to come. I remember it as an exhaustingly hot, 10000% humid day of annoyance and lots of groaning, as my parents, uncle and I hauled all my new college stuff up to my 3rd-floor dorm room (no elevator or AC). Despite the friendly faces passing out lemonade and free things, it was a super stressful experience and my family’s tempers flared, as the separation anxiety kicked in. We also lacked a decent fan, so there was an emergency trip to Target that my parents had to make with all the other freshman parents in town. Oops!

It’s late on Sunday night (90% of you won’t read this until Monday) and I’m kicked back in bed with the monsters, while Will watches some man-show out in the den. We’ve spent the entire day in the kitchen, aside from a yoga class, and we’re beat. Because of all the new recipes we churned out today (5, but 1 failed), I feel motivated to knock out at least one post tonight since I’ve now got over 20 in the backlog (oooooooooops). I figure before I share anything else new from our new place (of course we’re already making NEW recipes, duh), it’s best to wrap up the last of the pre-Tacoma recipes. And this one is a recipe that I should not have been holding out on you with. Ohmigosh this is heaven. One of Will’s best concoctions, ever. I can’t believe I’ve been so rude to withhold it from you this long.

I am spoiled rotten. I think anyone who’s read anything on this blog might agree. But seriously. How many other people out there come home to meals like this on a regular weeknight? I imagine not many. If I didn’t have Will, I’d probably be pretty proud of myself for cooking one or two meals a week, and not just eating frozen food out of a box every night (Trader Joe’s Butter Chicken, I’m lookin’ at you). It seriously takes me a minimum of two hours to make anything in the kitchen (even if it’s easy), so if it were totally up to me, I’d always be cooking my dinner the night before I actually want to consume it – too much effort. But instead my husband is unreal and I feel incredibly fortunate that I get to enjoy gourmet meals on the reg. You also know that not every evening is a three-piece Turkish meal, but often it’s not too far off.

What a busy week it is going to be, so I wanted to make sure to get something up on the blog before I fell off the face of the earth for a few days! This is the perfect recipe to share because it’s got all the classic CWW traits – international, creative, and only slightly challenging (because of coordination, not the food itself). This recipe is courtesy of the Russian cookbook that Courtney sent us for Christmas, which was of course an exciting surprise. This is the first Russian recipe we’ve tried, since making our borscht. While I visited Russia many years ago, I really enjoyed the food, much to my surprise. So we’re very happy that Courtney found this cookbook, which has a whole variety of exciting recipes to try that seem undeniably, classically Russian. There’s lots of beets, potatoes and dill in our future, each time we crack this book open. So keep an open mind, ignore political issues, and try this straightforward and mouthwatering fish dish!

What a long weekend it has been! We feel like we’ve barely seen each other, since I’ve been out of the house for seemingly the entire time. I began my weekend on Saturday morning with a conference call for an alumni affinity group I’m president of, which was quickly followed by heading to a Williamsburg Symphonia concert that I had served on the planning committee for. When I got to the performance location, we were trying to pull off all set-up/rehearsal/concert in one day, between 8AM and the start of the concert at 8PM. The staging/sound/lights was probably the most challenging part and thankfully I didn’t have much to do with that – I got to set tables,  tend to musicians needs and then sit back and enjoy the show! The committee did a great job and the whole thing was wonderful-start to finish.

My mother loves themes. And to be quite honest, the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree. As much crap as I like to give my mother about theming everything (yes, I just admitted to the great big internet that I give my mother a hard time), at heart, I’m cut from the same cloth. There’s something comforting about pulling together a meal where all the pieces fit together and belong together. When my mother first approached Will and I about what theme to have for Christmas this year, we were unprepared and little less than polite. She threw out Downton Abbey or medieval feast as the themes, and not wanting to play nice, we shot them down. Then we spotted our Virginia Hospitality cookbook on our shelf and the three of us started exploring it. After coming across a recipe requiring the cook to “light a chicken on fire then carry it to the table while still flaming,” we decided to pass on classic Virginia recipes, but felt inspired to do a “classic foods” theme.

Since Will and I are traveling extensively for Christmas this year (road trip!!), we decided to do our own mini-Christmas before leaving town, so we weren’t lugging gifts to our respective parents homes, in anticipation of driving halfway across the country and back with them. And after opening all our gifts from each other and finding lots of kitchen gems (including two glorious new cookbooks from our friend Courtney), I remembered that I hadn’t even blogged about Thanksgiving yet! The shame. Between wrapping up my bosses’ last week in the office, doing some major updates on my computer and generally socializing our way through the week of holiday get-togethers (aka: drinking more than we normally do in a month’s time, in a week), I figured I should set aside a few minutes to get this up on the blog before Christmas came and passed.