This has been an interesting week for me. It felt so strange to be going back to work after a week off for vacation (my first in two years!). I was ready to come home, but I was not quite ready to get back to work on Monday. It took me a few days to get accustomed to waking up early again and get into the swing of the work day. On Monday morning, I had almost no motivation to get out of bed and get moving. By mid-week, I felt ready to take on the day.
It especially felt strange coming back to work in this lighter position. I only had seven voicemails and a roughly 15 emails, mostly mail updates from my supervisor. This would never have been the case in my former position. In fact, I could not have gone away for a week unplugged like I did. A few clients called and were not happy that I wasn’t there, but for the most part things kept turning without me. That part is amazing, because it means I can actually get the work done that I need to and then devote my time outside of work to my applications and my blog.
After a tiring week, I got to rest some and get ready to go over to Chris and Andrew’s to make lunch and pie. I had brought back apples from the Apple Castle in PA. I specifically went to go get apples so we could make a pie. We decided to make an afternoon out of it and make lunch.
Since we were going to to be eating pie, I figured soup and salad would make a light lunch. It also was an opportunity to make some fall dishes that would pair nicely with apple pie.
I made one of my favorite salads that has been a regular in my rotation since I found it on a food blog a few years ago. This kale salad with crispy chickpeas is a recipe from Minimalist Baker. This is a recipe that has been a hit every time I have brought it to a gathering.
It is really quite easy to make, but the flavors will rock your tastebuds. To make the chickpeas, you roast them on a baking sheet after dressing them with olive oil and Tandoori masala. You will want to do this first step in a bowl before putting them on the sheet. You also add the whole garlic cloves with the skin still on to the baking sheet.
Instead of Tandoori masala, I usually use garam masala. Tandoori masala is very similar to garam masala, but it has some more savory spices added, like garlic, onion, and cayenne pepper. I started using garam masala, because I was able to find that spice blend in the store, but I could not find the Tandoori blend. The recipe does give measurements if you want to make your own Tandoori spice blend. I guess I am just lazy and find it easier to have one spice bottle in stock rather than all the different components. I also find the garam masala to be more fall-like.
To make the dressing, you combine tahini paste, olive oil, lemon juice, maple syrup (or honey) and salt/pepper to taste. I usually use honey for the dressing, but I have used syrup to make it vegan. I really love this tahini dressing. It is my favorite part of this salad. It just gives the kale so much power. I especially love the flavor of the roasted garlic.
While I was making the salad, Chris and Andrew made French onion soup. I have had French onion soup that Chris made before, so I was excited to have it again. It is funny though that I was looking forward to eating a bowel of onions when I spent so many years of my life picking onions out of everything I ate. I really was such a picky child.
To make this soup, they cooked down a bunch of onions (I think it was three very large onions) with butter in a pot. They cooked them down until they were also translucent. If you have never had the opportunity to experience the scent of onions cooking in butter, I suggest you fix that right away. It is the scent that dreams are made of.
At this point, they added beef broth and allowed the soup to simmer for about 15 minutes. Then, to finish to soup, they dropped a piece of French baguette into a glass bowl, then pour soup over top. They then placed gruyere and swiss cheese on top and place under the broiler for about two minutes.
The end result was glorious. It was soul-warming with delicious melty cheese. It paired greatly with the kale salad. This meal was surprisingly filling. It wasn’t a traditional hearty meal, but it was full of fiber and left our bodies feeling fed and satisfied.
Now to discuss the pie…
I will start by saying that I have never made a pie before. I mean a real crusted pie, not a pudding pie with a pre-made graham cracker crust. So, this was my first time ever making pie crust. Now, I am not a pastry person. I can make cakes, cookies, breads, brownies, custard, but I don’t have much experience at all with pastry dough (unless it was pre-made). I kind of expected this to not go particularly well.
Conveniently, when I was home, I got my grandmother’s pie crust recipe. My mom got this precious gift made for me. It is a collection of recipes from my late Grandma Jo’s kitchen accompanied by family photos (including some classic Catie poses from my childhood). It was such a sweet and thoughtful gift, and I will cherish it forever. I am so happy my mom got this for me. I have such a caring, amazing, beautiful mom. She has been such a blessing in my life.
Making the crust from this recipe was not so bad. I think I did a fairly good job at forming the crust. However, we decided to put the crust in the freezer after rolling it out to keep the butter cold. I think that was a big mistake. This made the dough really hard to roll, resulting in me over-working the dough.
The dough also desperately needed salt. I may have forgotten that step when I made the dough. I think salt would have brought out the flavor of the crust better. The crust did start to get that flaky texture, but it really lacked flavor. We also forgot to make an egg wash for the crust. These are all things I can work on for next time.
I would say the pie tasted okay. The flavors of the filling were there, but many of the apples were not completely cooked, so I will have to experiment to figure out what to do about that next time.
I will say that I was disappointed in myself for making this pie. I know that this is my perfectionism speaking. This was the first time I have ever made pie crust, which is not an easy skill to master. It is okay that it didn’t turn out well. I just need to practice more and figure out what to do better. I do appreciate that I have friends who will eat my food experiments, even if they aren’t great.
After lunch and pie making (which ended closer to 5:00) I went home to get ready for a night out in DC. I had bought myself tickets at the Kennedy Center to see Cao Sem Plumas, a dance show from the Brazilian dance company Cia de Danca de Deborah Colker. A show is a beautiful creation full of Brazilian culture. It is about the Capibaribe River region in Brazil.
The dance had elements of modern dance, contemporary, African jazz, and ballet (including pointe). Well, at least based on my knowledge of dance, those were the styles I recognized. I may not be able to dance, but I sure watch a lot of dance. The dancing was spectacular. These were strong, athletic dancers with a ton of skill. I was mesmerized by the movements they were making with their bodies.
I was also sitting in the second row center stage of the Eisenhower Theater. These were phenomenal seats. I really lucked out by finding these seats at such a reasonable price. I have watched a ton of dance shows, but being able to watch it so up-close is a whole other thing. It was so life-like that it didn’t really feel like a performance. It felt more like it was something real happening right in front of me. It was a magical ending to an overall good day.