On Saturday, after a bit of a sleep in for me and a verrry long sleep in for Mark (he was functioning ‘normally’ by 7PM), my beautiful, kind and worldly friend Stephanie came to visit me. We have known each other since the first day of undergrad. I was a country bumpkin and she was a private school princess from Connecticut. Any unlikely combo. I kid, Steph is probably one of the least entitled people I’ve ever met in my life. We just had very different backgrounds and even personalities but none of this seemed to matter and Steph became my closest friend during first year university. A little pic of us circa Halloween 2002:
We lived across the hall from each other, so this was also beneficial. When people would knock on our doors we would look out the peepholes to both determine if it was someone we wanted to open the door for and then converse about this over MSN. This bonding led to us living together in my parent’s rental home in Guelph in second year. In third year Steph transferred to go to school in TO and set up shop in an AMAZING condo. It was the nicest digs that I’ve ever seen for someone in their very early 20’s, so I obviously had no issues visiting her. A little pic from an 80’s party that I attended with her…probably around 2006:
Steph was there when I sprained my ankle very late at night and we went to the hospital in an ambulance. She was also there when, with my crutches, we got ourselves a motorized cart in the grocery store, donned reindeer antlers and talked the older gentlemen shopping in the store to help us with some ‘heavy’ items and put them into the little basket on my buggy. Steph does not have the exact same sense of humour as me but she always laughs and sometimes, like with the grocery store adventure, she’ll even join in. She’s a trooper.
As soon as Steph arrived she presented me with these gorgeous roses:
I told you, she’s a thoughtful one. We immediately sat down and had a lonnnggg chat. Even though we do not see each other often, it is always the same when we do; which I believe is a sign of a true and lasting friendship. We realized after a few hours that dinner was approaching and so we headed to the grocery store. No reindeer antlers this time but Steph certainly opened my eyes to the gluten-free world of grocery shopping. Our little gal is gluten intolerant and I am ignorant to this condition. Therefore, I wanted to create a healthy and gluten-free dinner that we could both enjoy; gluten tolerant and intolerant alike.
Steph had mentioned that she makes a gluten-free Mexican bowl. After describing this, it sounded pretty damn good so we went and picked up what we needed. The recipe called for; brown rice, peppers, onion, salsa, black-eyed peas, avocado (to make guac) and lettuce. I suggested we add some lean ground beef and Steph said A-OK. After rounding up these ingredients, Steph shopped for another 4 hours because ‘she loves grocery stores’ (weirdo) and then we went home to prepare our meal. As soon as Steph pulled the avocado out of the bag, she had a sad face. She said I was a bad avocado picker and told me there was no way there would be any guacamole being made that day. I felt like this inside:
Sadness. Anyway, instead of making a bowl, we decided to make Mexican lettuce wraps. And the recipe is as follows;
1) You cut up all the veggies. You can really use anything here but we used orange peppers and onion. Here is my house guest hard at work:
2) While your sous chef cuts up the veggies and washes the lettuce, you brown the lean ground beef and cook the brown rice. You then sauté the onions and peppers and combine with the beef, black-eyed peas and rice. It should look like this:
3) Then it is time to add the spices. We put in salt, pepper, oregano, chili flakes…..and then we put in the paprika and disaster struck. While trying to gently tap the paprika out of the bottom of the bottle the entire container smashed everywhere and glass went flying. Miyou, the food crazed pig, came RUNNING over and almost ate a shard of glass but Stephanie was a heroine and scooped her up and kicked her and Bolt downstairs. I was in bare feet as well so the vacuum needed to make an appearance. A pic of the little troublemaker:
4) After we cleaned up the catastrophe, we went back to seasoning and I realized that I would have really loved chili powder and cumin in this recipe but had none on hand. I highly recommend adding either of these spices to this meal as well.
5) Finally, take your washed lettuce leaf and place as much, or as little of this recipe as you want on the leaf. It would have been better to have actual lettuce wraps but the romaine worked alright as a stand in. It ended up more with the lettuce acting as a base, instead of a wrap but the leaf was strong enough to support the filling. I then added some salsa and some cheese. Poor Uncle Stephan is also lactose intolerant, so she only partook in the salsa. I would also suggest some light sour cream if you have on hand but despite all of the tweaks that I suggested, it really was delicious.
After dinner Stephan and I returned to the living room and did not leave again until about 1am. We chatted, drank chocolate almond milk and watched Slice TV like it was our job. Thankfully we both enjoy everything and anything Gail Vaz-Oxlade. It really was a great way to catch up. Sometimes when you don’t see someone very often, going out muddies up the quality time that you get to spend with them. I think the last time I saw Steph was one of my bridal showers and I barely got to talk to her. This was much better. I liked it. We had a romantic brunch the next day and Mark kept trying to feed her eggs and dairy, both of which she can’t eat. It made me laugh because his discomfort was obvious. He tries so hard. Steph peaced out around noon with my promise to visit her in the big city of Kitchener next and I’m very looking forward to it.
Now, you make think my day was over but no, no. I was also reunited with my grandma. While it hasn’t been a year since I’ve seen her, it has been a while and I missed her face. I call her Bing Bing sometimes, a nickname that I gave her when I was young and it stuck. She likes Bingo (and is good at it!) so the name worked. So Bing Bing, my mom, dad and their Chiweenie Rambo, came over for an afternoon visit. My grandma has never seen my new house, so I took her on the grand tour. I think the amount of stairs was a bit of a struggle but I’m glad she toughed it out. We hung out in the living room and my mom became a Dog Whisperer:
My grandma also had a cuddle with her faux great-grandchild:
This doll has become a replacement for Troy and yes, he is wearing swim goggles. You can check out our adventures with the dearly departed Troy here. Our new friend was given to Mark on his 27th birthday by Emily and Cork. I’m not sure if this was some kind of hint at impending fatherhood but more than likely he will become a suitable prop for our future adventures.
After chatting, we ordered some good old Azian. I’ve already mentioned Azian and it probably seems like I have it all the time….I really don’t. I’ve had it about 6 times in the last year, it just so happens my friends and family like it too, so it’s a good backup when you’re not sure what to have for dinner. It was delicious as usual.
Although I must say, for a family of 5 it was $80 and there were very few leftovers…..so I’m not too sure how impressed I am with the take-out prices. It seems you get more when you go there in person. The wait staff is also part of the experience. If you are thinking of trying Azian, go to the restaurant and make reservations – tip of the day.
Brennie, Bri Bear, Hazel and Rambo packed up and left around 7. Since it’s Wednesday night and I still have material to write about, it was one busy weekend. Somehow the next one starts again in two days…..
I’m now off to the gymbo with Markus, since he’s trying to become Fit to Supervise 🙂 Have a tip-top Thursday!