Saturday, December 24, 2011

the most wonderful time of the year

Tis the season for

1. Holiday parties!

They decided to hold our holiday party in our very own warehouse (in the DC office, not the Virginia office where I usually work, which meant for the second time braving my fear of driving in Northeast DC, where the drivers, at least from my point of view, are the craziest).

They did a beautiful job imparting holiday charm via candlelight, wreaths…


… sparkly unicorns? I can only assume it was meant to be a reindeer?


Definitely, though, the highlight of the event was all the TALENT! My coworkers have all these secret skills!

There was a string quartet…


… a saxaphonist, not pictured, a skit by the nutrition education department and a dance by Partner Relations


And then it was time to eat. Biggest buffet I’ve ever seen?


We were supposed to line up “in small groups” so as not to crowd the buffet. Yeah right. Immediately the entire food bank staff got in line.

Amy, my supervisor, was smart enough to bring her own utensil (since apparently we always run out of cutlery at events.)

Behold, the spork! (She gave me one of these for Christmas. Gosh I am so lucky).


Like fifteen minutes later (in which we all chatted about favorite Christmas songs/movies) I at last feasted my eyes on the pretty epic assortment of food I got from the buffet.


From the top: a piece of naan, a strip of roasted sweet potato, shrimp with mango salsa, black beans, guacamole, a deviled egg, mac and cheese (from David! Who made it for our office competitition!), kale salad, corn pudding, Asian-style mushrooms, cranberry sauce, a stuffed mushroom, and some shrimp etouffee. 

Ordinarily I am all over desserts but am trying to not be totally indulgent this holiday season since I’m actually sort of unhappy with some extra pounds that are already lingering on my body, ones I got before the holiday season even began. SO I was trying not to be overly tempted by the desserts, beautiful though they were.


And actually though there were a ton of cakes and fancy things, there was a shocking shortage of cookies. And for me, Christmas cookies are where it’s at (see previous posts!)

So, I got more beans  for dessert :D

Along with some grapes that were garnishing a turkey and I knew would otherwise be thrown away; a wee scoop of sweet potato casserole (which in my mind is a dessert), and in a token to the season, a piece of chocolate covered peanut butter something (which was good but so intensely decadent and butter/cream cheese-y that I actually couldn’t finish it, and didn’t want to) and a taste of pumpkin roll up.


And then they unveiled our new logo… via cupcakes :D


Do people like the logo? I think it’s all right. (The cupcakes were dry. We all took bites and were like, “Eh.”)

And now more from the holiday season.

2. Sheila being cute. This happens year round, but she looks like a little Christmas present!


3. Cafe Sazon decorating in an adorable fashion. The Christmas tree was backlit, but check out their dazzling display of miniatures!


4. Awesome gift. This was, in fact, a birthday gift, not a Christmas one, but it’s too awesome not to share.

Background: my cousin Nicholas is a very nice person but his diet is just ridiculously unhealthy. Basically all he eats is hamburgers. With the occasional Caesar salad, heavy on the croutons.

When I cook he always says how good it is but he just will not make healthy stuff for himself.



(that’s his pet rabbit on the front cover, saying “Please don’t eat me!” I was able to print it because he puts pictures of his pet rabbit on facebook :D

Thoughts on making cookbooks for family members

- Reluctant cooks probably like pictures laying things out, like this roasted veggies “before” and “After”


- Family pictures are nice for creating an association between things that make us happy (family!) and the recipes on the pages (carrots!)


On the topic of carrots, Nick adooooooooooored the carrots I made last Easter because… they matched his shirt. Apparently, he will eat vegetables if they match what he is wearing?

Anyway, I included a recipe, adapted to NOT have to slice carrots with a mandoline (since normal people don’t own them and I regularly nearly amputate things every time I operate mine)


Cachy headings are always nice:


And there you have it!

A labor of love (seriously, every homemade gift takes ten thousand times longer to put together than you think it will!) but a really great gift that he seemed to really love.

Back to the holidays, I also adore

5. A trip to the theah-tuh

Going to a play seems to be a year-end treat for me this past few years. My mom would often welcome her kids home from college with tickets to some fabulous musical (West Side Story being the be-all and end-all of the awesomeness, though over the years we’ve also enjoyed Camelot AND Spamalot, South Pacific, Noises Off- which I was actually in in high school!- and lots more fun stuff I’m sure I’m forgetting.)

Well, now I have this super awesome boyfriend who knows I love the thea-tuh and last year he took me to Oklahoma and this year he took me to a fun, new musical at Signature Theater called A Second Chance. We ended up in the FIRST ROW of this cool intimate space and it was oodles of fun. I love the theah-tuh!

5. Romantic proper dates

I am all for hanging out at each other’s house and cooking. It is so lovely and also economical.

But occasionally Steve insists upon spoiling me and taking me out somewhere lovely, so pre-theatuh we went to Extra Virgin, a cute little Italian place in Shirlington.

Pretty Christmas wreaths:


Dim lights and red walls:


Insisting on treating the evening like a special occasion, Steve ordered red wine, from two different regions of Italy. We swapped sips. It was weird, it was nothing special on its own but increasingly grew more delicious as it sat out and when it was sipped with food. Which makes sense, since in Italy the wine is supposed to always be served with food.


(Gosh, look at how that charming smile ended up in this picture :D)

Bread was average, but WHOA that dipping sauce. Quality oil, quality balsamic, I don’t know what else but it was exceptional.


One look at the 600 degree oven pizzas on the menu and I was like YES PLEASE!


I opted to order the “Pizza Profumo di mare ‘Barese Dolce’. Tomato sauce, calamari, shrimp, capers, olives, crushed red pepper, red onion and garlic.

Oh my goooooooooooooodness this was good pizza. SO much flavor from the capers and olives, perfectly cooked seafood (and an impressive abundance for one of the more affordable entrees.)

DSC08348 DSC08349    

Steve, meanwhile, ordered an eggplant parmigiana-type-dish. It was a bit undercooked. Though it came with polenta, so that’s good. And goat cheese, so obviously that was really good.



Unsurprisingly, what we ate:

Me- 2 slices of pizza, most of the polenta, bread dunked in the leftover tomato sauce from the eggplant thing, scraped the goat cheese out of the eggplant thing.

Steve- everything else!


marie said...

I have never seen calamari on a pizza, so interesting.

That cookbook is great! What a thoughtful and useful gift.

Merry Christmas!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Corrie Anne said...

Wow. I would love a sparkly unicorn. And the Christmas buffet looks incredible! Merry Christmas

MelindaRD said...

Love the pizza with the squid on it. I feel in love with squid while living on the island, but haven't gotten into it here yet in Japan, mostly because often it is raw, and I just can't bring myself to go there yet. Great idea with the cookbook. Looks like you enjoyed the holidays this year.

Shannon ~ MyPlace In The Race said...

Love the cookbook! Looks like you had a great holiday!

Merry Christmas! :)