home and back again

Odd few weeks. Got sushi with a girlfriend (this was good, and different, and full of much-needed veggies).

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Then we had what was turning into a great dance party. When I got a call from home, and heard that a relative had passed away. It wasn’t unexpected; he was in hospice care. Nonetheless, it was a bummer.

I won’t always be able to go home for a weekend when I feel like it, but since I’m at a time in my life when I am blessed enough to be able to, I went for it on this particular occasion.

The cat welcomed me by sitting on my lap and making me pet her for a long time. Results as expected.

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She also helped me with my schoolwork (I had a take-home exam about childhood and adolescent nutrition; a health behavior presentation to finish; and an op-ed to write about the school breakfast program). Cats just love laptops.

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Got some time in with my sister at the Korean bakery. We admired their little animal creations.

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And silly cakes.

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And ate in the surprisingly hipster dining area upstairs. I got a sweet potato latte (!)

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By far the highlight of the weekend at home was meeting my friend’s BABY! It was such a blast holding little Owen. Watching him sneeze adorably, telling him stories and making him laugh. The cat was completely flabbergasted by him- we realized she’d never met a baby! My friend Lauren is adjusting to motherhood with such grace- she seems so happy and fulfilled. And relaxed about the whole thing, which seems pretty miraculous. It was such a joy to see her.

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Then back to school. Spent the weekend exploring more of Raleigh with Steve (it’s where he lives now). Am really impressed so far with some of the walking/biking infrastructure I’ve gotten to see. It was a beautiful, albeit somewhat cold day we spent walking around, catching the scenery before the sun set on us.

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Then HUGE treat- we went out to eat at Fiction Kitchen, the restaurant both of us had been most excited to try in Raleigh for quite some time. It’s all vegetarian, and they do a mix of surprisingly authentic vegetarian incarnations of traditional soul food (our friend Myra, a Mississippi native who’s been a vegetarian since age 16 was positively swooning at her chicken and waffles) and innovative new creations. I was impressed with their lack of reliance on beans and tofu and tempeh and things- it was just lots of dishes celebrating the integrity of vegetables.

I got a spectacular grilled Caesar salad with delicious cashew cheese, and a wonderful creamy squash soup.

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We also split an unpictured slice of vegan cheesecake which involved chocolate, peanut butter, and pretzels.

It was so much fun! It’s also a beautiful restaurant with really elegant food and yet the prices are super reasonable, especially when you stop to admire their local sourcing of ingredients. In general, Raleigh is a shockingly affordable city (though it doesn’t excuse the ridiculous amount of meals I’ve eaten out lately- see my thoughts on this at the end of the post).

The next day was Friendsgiving! The absolute, 100% highlight of Friendsgiving was our friend Jeremy’s extremely adorable baby girl. She’s not actually old enough to walk (she still isn’t crawling) but her favorite thing ever is to practice. Her mom and dad think she might go straight to walking and skip crawling. Such a happy little girl.

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She was also enthralled by our friend Andrew’s beer bottle, hahahaha!

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The food was soooooo yummy. Twice baked potatoes, brussels sprouts that were peppy with lots of hot red pepper flakes, sautéed green beans, pineapple casserole (GUYS I TOTALLY MISSED THE MEMO ON PINEAPPLE CASSEROLE! It was canned pineapple bound together with cheddar cheese (?!) in a creamy casserole with a buttery ritz cracker-y topping on top and it was so good!!!), stuffing, kale salad… such a feast! Jeremy also deep fried a turkey, which I didn’t eat but everyone said was incredible.

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For cocktails, Lesli made what we dubbed a ‘Christmas mimosa’- cranberry juice, champagne, and fresh cranberries floating on top. A Pinterest idea that actually worked in real life.

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For further entertainment, our friends Jeff and Laura’s kids led everyone in a somewhat ridiculous game of Telephone. Then we got in an hourlong argument about different regional forms of dialect (pec-khan versus pea-can, sneakers versus tennis shoes, the correct pronunciation of a Bowie knife, etc.)

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Finally we tried Sunday brunch in Raleigh. So many neat old buildings with cool architectural details.

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Steve got a breakfast burrito.

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And because the owners of this establishment are wonderful people, I was permitted to get a soup and half sandwich with my half sandwich being a bagel with lox! Can’t remember the last time I got to had one of these- a super salty everything bagel with cream cheese, snappy cucumbers, and delicious smoked salmon. Plus an apple and squash soup on the side that was delightfully acidic.

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Sidebar- I was looking through old blog posts from back in college round 1, and am disgusted at how much I go out to eat now in comparison to the quantity of home cooking I did back then. It’s healthier, more affordable, and a nice end-of-day ritual to make one’s own food. Plus, hello, I’m a broke grad student! I need to view going out to eat as a treat- rare, and worth thinking about instead of just an occasion where I throw up my hands and don’t feel like using any of the ingredients I have in my apartment. I need to be financially savvy, and as a nutrition student I need to walk the walk of healthy home cooking. This is a prime New Year’s resolution target!

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One thought on “home and back again

  1. You can tell Sheila is a thinker! She’s totally trying to wrap her head around baby Owen and it’s hilarious! I am inspired by your idea for healthy home cooking. I think you have so much talent in putting together delicious and creative entrees that go well together. Good luck, Ileana!

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