Pardon my belated wishes, but I hope everyone had wonderful holidays! Usually the holiday season means a time for more reflection, and being surrounded by people that I love. Take family for instance. Sometimes they get on your last nerve, but at the end of the day you love them so much that you could just burst! In my last post I talked about how meaningful friends are. Well I thought it would be nice to dedicate a post to just that!
Back in mid-November I had a very special friend stay with me for the weekend.
Many of you may recognize this special friend of mine as the lovely face behind The Collegiate Gourmande. Awhile ago she recounted her visit in this really sweet post right over here. Anyway, her and I have “known” each other for awhile now, and we got to meet up for the first time over the summer in Miami. Now she was staying at my place in Richmond for the weekend. It wasn’t just any weekend though! We were running the SunTrust half-marathon. When she arrived a stranger beat me to a proper greeting with a kiss on the cheek haha!
The first night here, we cooked up a storm!
Voila! A homemade naan pizza topped with spinach sauce, okra, and chickpeas with a side of yellow curry spiced lentil soup
The idea for the spicy spinach sauce came from Emily, and Maya already had it bookmarked! Actually, she had a list of things we could possibly whip up in the kitchen. I love this girl and her enthusiastic spirit! The naan bread was actually from a batch I made earlier that week.
Naan bread is so easy to make at home--next time I want to make it with a hint of cilantro and garlic--topped with ghee and you're ready to bite in!
To go with an appetizing bowl of Thai-style lentil and coconut soup
Coconut milk? Check.
Now back to Maya’s visit!
We ended the meal with a special treat...
the ever-popular Peanut Butter Cookie Dough Balls! These were so so SO so good! We went to bed “early” since the race was bright and early in the morning. Since I was fighting a cold at the time I had been taking care of myself the week prior to the race–Mucinex works wonders! We ended up running to the race to make sure we got there in time… you know just warming-up.
Maya had a picture taken of us with her phone after the race!
Look what I found! Tissue in hand to blow my runny nose.
It was my first race and it was such an incredible feeling. There was this force inside me that made me feel like I was on top of the world. It really made me feel positive of my capabilities despite the struggles that were very present in my life at that time. Plus, it was awesome to celebrate with a dear friend! We made our way home with those silly shiny “capes” that resemble foil a bit. After the race we took it easy for a bit, and made our way to a charming part of town in Richmond called ‘Carytown’.
That night we made a dinner fit for champions!
We roasted some green beans, and had mashed sweet potatoes with coconut milk topped with cajun chickpea cakes from Eats Well With Others. And that salad you see on the side there is Maya’s wonderful creation! A spinach salad with dried cranberries, honey crisp apples, pomegranate seeds. She even made the dressing: almond butter balsamic dressing! Oh my goodness this meal had so many flavors, and it was all divine! Just what we needed after a race.
How we do!
Aha! I found you!
We spent the rest of the night laughing and talking into the morning. She had to leave early the next morning, but she left me so many beautiful reminders. I mentioned her post earlier, but I really have to say it again. It truly touched my heart. I guess that’s just her way! A true friend you can count on? A friend that is understanding and doesn’t mind one bit? A friend that lets you know that it’s alright. That’s Maya for you, and she’s so much more.
She also left me this tasty reminder!
Which I have been enjoying on just about everything! Thank you, Maya!
I also went on a trip to NYC with my class (the bus actually belongs to one of my classmates).
The captain of the ship!
I saw NYC in a different light on the High Line.
Beautiful, isn't it?
Since this was a class with art students, naturally we scoped out some galleries and museums.
Even a gallery for the homeless to submit their art.
The sleek New Museum.
On one of the nights we all got together at our professor's friends' giant shared studio and...
and had a delicious homemade feast!
Man, his friends sure can cook and bake! There was roasted ham, stew, pasta, vegetable dishes, best banana bread ever, pies, cakes, garlic bread, hummus… gosh so many things! The trip was a lot of fun. It was nice to see some friends up there, and also getting to know some of my fellow classmates a little better. By the way, in Williamsburg there’s a place called The Alligator Lounge that has a great deal: buy a beer and you get a free pizza! Not just any pizza, but a personal pan! So if you’re in the Brooklyn area, make sure to hit that up!
I had another special visitor for Thanksgiving!
On Thanksgiving we headed to the breathtaking Blue Ridge Mountains.
I packed us a bag of yummy things to take with us!
For me: a sandwich with smoked gouda, sauteed spinach and onions, apple slices, and honey.
For my mom: spinach, egg, honey, apple slices, and goat cheese.
Do you think she liked it?
It's such a big world.
It felt so nice to be breathing fresh air.
As we headed back the sun decided to come out. Doesn't this look like the cover of Big Fish?
Matilda let out a roar that the whole world could hear!
I wanted my mom to taste how special honeycrisp apples are.
Pooped and heading back home to make a low-key Thanksgiving dinner.
I made a special recipe that night from an e-cookbook that was sent to me to review.
The e-cookbook is titled “The Flexitarian Cookbook” and features many recipes from various contributors that can be adjusted to fit your dietary needs or mood whether you vegan, vegetarian, or an omnivore. The recipes sound so appetizing and the pictures that are featured are so beautiful and drool-worthy. I’ll be featuring more recipes I’ve tried from this e-cookbook, and a more detailed review.
The recipe that stood out the most for me, with ingredients like pumpkin, peaches, and pecorino.
Not even finished and it smelled delicious.
And Thanksgiving dinner was served!
Sauteed collard greens, onions, and garlic, with fruit & nut chutney.
Our tastebuds and bellies were in for the best thing we had eaten in awhile.
Almost forgot the pecorino!
Oh my goodness. My mother and I kept exclaiming how incredible this dish was. It’s suppose to be served in a small pumpkin, but I made do with what I had (butternut squash) and it still turned out to be a phenomenal dish. The mix of ingredients (the peach being the most surprising) was spot on!
Lebkuchen filled with as much love as a cookie can handle!
This is probably the most nostalgic food and smell from Germany for me. Lebkuchen is a traditional German treat that’s similar to gingerbread. At the Christmas Market you will see tons of heart-shaped cookies hanging up, ready to be given to someone’s beloved one.
Photo taken from here
Stay tuned for the next post since it’s a continuation on the topic of friendship and also catching up! I hope you all had a wonderful week, and a great start to a new year. Until next time, much love!