Writing this back in Virginia from a whirlwind of travel (after we headed West, we did an absolute whirlwind Labor Day weekend trip to the Midwest for Steve’s family wedding- anticipate a deep-dish-licious post about Chicago!).
Watching the rain fall, feeling gloomy about grad school prospects, I’m definitely recognizing that I’m at a new point in my life. Still, I see the merit in writing/thinking/reflecting about the most recent part of my life, a pretty amazing and transformative one, that I have yet to really recap. That being, of course, the end of my Americorps term. It ended, much as it began, with some potlucks.
I went freegan (appropriate way to end a year in which I made less than minimum wage) and used some complimentary coupons that the Foodbuzz Tastemaker program sent me. The first was for Ore-Ida sweet potato fries.
Baked up in a hot oven, they were, as all sweet potato fries, quite tasty. They cooked quickly and evenly, and had a nice crispy outer coating that reconsistuted nicely. A good product. And fitting, since we ate RAWTHER a lot of sweet potato fries at potluck throughout the year.
Also was stoked to get another free Tastemaker coupon for Sabra hummus! I have always been a big fan of their products (I think it’s all the extra rich-tasting oil they add :D) and opted for the sun dried tomato flavor.
Served up with ingredients in the style you may have started to recognize throughout our potlucks- veggies the kids rejected at work so I took home (green pepper, in this case), and leftovers from earlier in the week (the yeastless beer focaccia which I’ve made scads of times and continue to love- in the Favorite Recipes page).
Kyle made a surprise appearance (as he says, he “breaks late”. And appreciated having the low expectation of him showing up, because then when he did he got a happy welcome. Jeez.), along with his girlfriend Shaylen. She made hummus with lots of lemon and it was GREAT. Plus carrots.
Steve, in honor of tradition, made fried rice. It is his signature dish, I think. With his typical style: tofu and garlic cooked together, big onions cooked on their own to beautifully caramelize…
Precooked brown rice, fresh green peppers, cage free eggs…
Lovely baby bella shrooms, a cupboardfull of Asian spices and seasonings..
And frozen okra just for kicks. It is an ASSUMPTION that this was all cooked in tons and tons of oil, obviously. Steve makes stick-to-your-ribs food, though filled with wholesome things.
Like in every potluck (and I think particularly appropriate for our penultimate one), comfort food carbs made an appearance.
Erin’s mini crescent rolls were WONDERFUL
And since, as at so many of our potlucks, I was grimacingly trying to restrain my crack-addict behavior around sweets due to imprudent eating earlier in the day/week/month, I had only the tiniest sliver of Carolyn’s cinnamon rolls… but they were amazing.
Trader Joe’s brand. It was great having most of our potlucks at Erin, Carolyn, Steve, and David’s building which is a short walk from TJ’s. Good times.
Though we hit a point right around June where sort of everyone realized at the same time that we really really really wanted a break from them, up until then potlucks were one of my highlights of the week. Our summer pace got much less frenetic (finishing work at 5 instead of more like 7, no homework with the kids, pool time twice a week that kept the kiddos happy and work as a behavioral incentive, etc.), but during the crazy days of the school year it was really nice to all commiserate together every Thursday.
Plus, good eats! Read the potluck page if you’d like.
And now: the beach! Steve got it into his head that we should take some kind of ultimate beach trip to wrap up our time together. I was feeling iffy about the whole thing, due to a questionable weather forecast and more difficultly articulated things relating to the end of Americorps, feeling blue, not wanting to be a downer, so on and so forth.
But go I did, and it ended up being a wonderful trip, over at Sandy Point, a surprisingly fantastic beach on the Chesapeake Bay, right under the Bay Bridge.
Once we drove up and unloaded, Erin brought out the birthday cake for Carolyn! That is the state of Illinois there on the frosting, where Carolyn is headed to grad school. Yellow cake with chocolate frosting, Carolyn’s fave.
(that picture also gives a hint at the wholesome foodstuffs we encountered at 7-11 on our way to drive up)
I then had to admire Mitch and Olivia’s beach food, which was seriously the classiest I have ever seen. They just kept pulling out a colorful, nutritious, extremely tasty looking selection of food! That’s fresh avocado she’s using to top her tortilla creation.
That watermelon sort of levitating in the corner of the frame I brought from home.
I also brought bagel chips, made from mini bagels my sister kept randomly bringing home from work (she has freegan tendencies too) as well as some we had at home that were nearing antique status. Cooking spray’d and toasted.
They made lovely dippers for a very impressive hummus selection.
I brought the remains of my Sabra stuff from potluck (still great!), and Olivia brought two homemade selections, one plain and one with paprika and curry that was FAB!
Steve and I had a wonderful time romping around in the delightfully warm water (I love swimming in bays because I saw Jaws one too many times as a kid and it kind of did a number on me), though everyone else stayed on shore.
And then about an hour and a half later, a huge nasty thunderstorm came in and promptly ended our beach day.