D+ weekend: a rambler

This weekend, my sister in law related to us an article she read about how the majority of our society was severely lacking in vitamin P.  I’ll let you fumble in mystery over what that is for a moment, but I can definitely say I had an overabundance of it this weekend.

If weekends earned grades, I would without a moment’s hesitation give this past one a D.

Decadent. Delectable. Divine, Just an all-around Delicious three days.  To top all of it off, I actually didn’t do any major cooking myself, which was a surprise and a treat.  Don’t get me wrong, I love being in the kitchen – I’ve begun to discover just how much my creativity and energy thrives in there – but all the same, we all need a break occasionally.

So how thrilled was I that G messaged me early on Friday afternoon from work saying he’d cook up a feast for me that night, so that I wouldn’t begin anything myself.  In fact, we ended up raiding his sister’s kitchen while she was away on work so that we could a)feed the kitties and b) have access to her premium quality spices.

You might be thinking, well don’t you have spices at home, Alya?  Naturally I do, but one day in the near future I want to afford fresh herbs and authentically dried spices that we can blend ourselves… trust me, it seriously makes a world of tasty difference.  In the meantime, I shall revel in my own pantry full of affordable but widely varied spices.

So, when we finally headed over to her place, we made a quick stop at the grocery store to pick up some shrimp and tomatoes.  G will have to post an entry himself on the amazing blend of ingredients he threw together to create the most amazing masala for the shrimp…

A Super Special Feast from my G

He’ll tell you himself that the best thing to do for the shrimp is to allow them to marinate for as long as possible, a few hours if not over night.  That way the flavors of the masala sink in faster.  Barring that, leftovers the next day are just as fabulous. Nonetheless, OH MY WOW that was such a gloriously amazing and spicy dish, it sizzled in my mouth and seduced my tastebuds with every bite.  Served with simple white rice brings out the flavors all the more.  We had Basmati, but jasmine rice might be an even better complement.

On Saturday we picked up his sister B from the airport in the morning, and on our way back home she threw out the idea of having a fondue fest at her home that evening.  What? Melted cheese? Spicy broth? LIQUID CHOCOLATE?  How can one possibly refuse?  So we stopped off at Trader Joe’s to put together an impromptu list of ingredients for our fantastical feast of fun.

What we ended up with was apple cider, pepper jack cheese, chives, shrimp, assorted veggies (oh leaping leopards! Who knew broccoli would soak in the most flavor???), dark chocolate, a sourdough loaf, and fruits galore.

That evening B was in charge of the entrée broth and the dessert, and G and I experimented with cheese.  Without referring to any particular recipe, we combined the apple cider with salt, freshly squeezed orange juice, chopped green chilies and unfortunately not enough shredded pepper jack cheese.  We stayed away from the traditional gruyere cheese because G can sometimes get really bad headaches induced from overly strong cheese; thus we decided to try something more zesty and spicy.  But like I said, we didn’t bring enough.  Or rather, I was so overcome with the joy of dipping bread and apples into cheese that I was a tad overzealous with my apple cider-pouring.  So what we initially had was an incredibly cider-y (but nearly perfectly flavored!) and thin cheese soup.  Ergh.

What follows added not even a double ergh but a TRIPLE ergh to the fondue mixture.  Just down the street is a 7-eleven, so we sent the husband out to look if they had any light cheese we could add for texture if not taste. What does he come back with?? Velveeta cheese-product slices.  We were naturally incredibly wary, but as we had no other choice, why not try? Believe me when I say, DO NOT try that at home.  4 or 5 slices definitely fixed the texture, but the taste morphed into this processed overly sweet and manufactured aftertaste which just… was wrong. On so many levels. For all of us. Who are all amateur but true lovers of taste.  So yes, double ergh.

B came to the rescue with a chives infused cream cheese, which we dolloped in with great gusto to mask the evil-veeta.  It worked. It worked wonders. It was a miracle we wished we had realized before sending G out on his unfortunate quest.  But we also ended up with enough cheese fondue to feed 15 people.  Oh boy.  So we certainly couldn’t consume even half of it, not if we wanted to move on to the main course!

G cleaned some shrimp and marinated them in garlic, ginger, salt, some spices, and orange juice!  What a joy they turned out to be in the broth that B cooked up, with veggie stock and alllll sorts of spices and additions which I couldn’t keep track of. It was a beautiful blend of desi (Indian/paki) flavors with different kicks in it as well – like chives, for example.

We had potatoes, mushrooms, cauliflower and broccoli, along with marinated shrimp for the broth…  and the fun continued!  G embarked on a quest to narrow down the perfect time to let the shrimp cook inside the broth, pulling out his (or rather my) iphone and setting the timer to various lengths before enlightening us that 3 minutes is the prime length to allow shrimp to cook in a boiling broth that we kept judiciously cooking at 250 degrees I think.  And let me tell you, he was right.  3 minute shrimp was thusly born on Saturday, and will surely make its presence known on future occasions too.

But like I mentioned earlier, for me the broccoli stole the show – the way it siphoned in the various spices and wilted just enough to be juicy and succulent!  Oh sweet Sassafrass!  What a night it was, with G salivating over shrimp, B introducing me to a sweet pickled mango chutney that I am now intimately acquainted with (to the level that she gave me the rest of the jar to take home with me), and everyone just amusing ourselves over the interactive nature of the feast.

It lasted so long and was so decadent that none of us even had room for chocolate by the end (I know, for shame, Alya! For shame!!).  But we set it aside for next time, because this certainly deserves to be experienced a second, third and infinite times.  And besides, we have some cheese to perfect and new flavors to explore.

I think that’s the simple joy of fondue – there is so much room for creativity that even a novice in the kitchen can throw in ingredients that he or she likes and come up with something new and enticing.

Allergies be damned!

I also bonded with Mishti that night, one of B’s kitties.  I swear the other one is a sassy little devil, perhaps just the equivalent of a moody punk teenager, but this one is so adorable and just ditzy enough to be charming without being completely loopy.  I came armed with a good dose of Claritin, so my allergies

First time EVER that a cat has ever gazed upon me like that. EVER.

didn’t kick up as strongly as they normally do.  I still went away with the sniffles and a few red bumps but overall much better than usual.

Finally, Sunday came with a tinge of melancholy because the husband was leaving for a business trip for the entire week.  What am I to do alone for so long?!?! Well in all honesty, being alone has never been a problem for me, but being away from the boy is not at all enjoyable now.  Having had a long distance relationship for our entire relationship up until the wedding, I already rue reliving it now, with dropped phone calls and dicey video chatting.  (Maybe this just means I need to update my technology, but one thing at a time.  Maybe a paying job first perhaps?)

But anyway, we ended up ordering delivery from a halal (Islamic version of Kosher) Turkish restaurant called Turkshish.  G had Chicken Shish kebabs and I had a falafel sandwich.  The falafel was just slightly dry, but with the yogurt sauce it was so scrumptious, but the chicken was absolutely breathtaking to look at, let alone taste.  The bright orange color was a gorgeous contrast to the crisp juicy white meat on the inside, and combined with the fluffy white rice that absorbed all the flavors and juices, G was in a makeshift Turkish heaven!  The portions were a good size too, my sandwich probably a good 8 inches long and sided with spicy French fries, and his platter coupled with salad and large Turkish roti.  We were definitely satiated and in gastronomical  bliss… and with that I overdosed on Vitamin Pleasure all weekend long, not just eating great food, but completely and utterly enjoying every second of it, be it perfect or not.  The company, the laughs, the flavor combinations, every meal-centric experience encapsulated an overabundance of pleasure, for which I am grateful.

Up until the car ride to the airport at least.  But no matter, Monday has already come and gone, and I can handle a few more days until Friday…  I plan to cook up a nice lemon pepper shrimp scampi and parmesan breadsticks on Friday, but who knows what culinary thrills await us until then!

Thanks for reading, and have a good night eating!

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