make time.

With all the work craziness happening this week and next, I haven’t really been getting to spend as much time with Al as I’d like. I’ve been totally beat from work, and the weather (rain, rain, and more rain) isn’t helping either. So, after my writing class yesterday, I decided to do something special to make up for my sleepiness/absence. I stopped by Charlottesville’s own Main Street Market and got everything I needed for a super awesome gourmet workday lunch for Alex. I knew he’d only have about half an hour, which meant I’d have to time everything perfectly (which, when it comes to cooking, is probably my biggest downfall. sheesh. it’s so hard!) so we wouldn’t be waiting for anything to finish or having to eat one thing before the other was ready.

I knew I wanted to get fish, because 1) fish is my favorite meat – delicious and so good for you and 2) I have Al an Omaha Steaks package for Valentine’s Day – romantic, I know – and so he’s already got enough red meat to eat. I got some wild-caught Mahi-Mahi and a fresh lemon at Seafood @ West Main, and headed to Feast to get the goods for a side dish. I decided on asparagus and parmesan cheese (also healthy and delicious), and stopped by Hedge on the way out to get some blooms to brighten up the table.

I got home around 1:00, and fixed the lovely yellow tulips in the vase my V-Day flowers came in. Then I put the fish in a pan so I could just pop it in the oven when it was time. I drizzled a tiny bit of olive oil on top just for the flavor, and used lemon pepper, black pepper, and fresh parsley for seasoning. Then, I cut that fresh lemon in half, squeezed half over the fish, and sliced the other half to dress up the dish. I baked it in the oven, on about 400 degrees – here’s the end result (not a beautiful picture, but you get the idea):

Second, I set the table. I knew that when Al came home for lunch, he wouldn’t expect a big pretty spread. I had told him I was making something awesome, but I wanted to surprise him with the fancy schmancy table. I had everything I needed for this already – water and wine glasses, red napkins from Ikea, a cute pitcher from Maama, and a candle from the BCC. After the table was all set, I moved along to the rest of the food.

I chopped up the ingredients (which were also already in the fridge) for a small salad for each of us – we’ve been eating these salads like crazy, they’re so simple and tasty! I used Romaine lettuce, carrots, mushrooms, shredded parmesan, and croutons. We love to use balsamic vinaigrette (Newman’s Own is the best!) with this particular salad. I never knew how good BV was until recently…it’s always been Alex’s favorite, but until I really discovered it I was a Ranch girl, through and through. I’ve been working on expanding my horizons. :)

Anyway, once the salads were put together, I started on the asparagus. I rinsed the stalks and broke off the ends, and heated a big skillet on medium with some olive oil in the bottom. About fifteen minutes before we were going to eat, I dropped the asparagus in the pan and let it cook. Somewhere around five minutes before serving, I put some of that shredded parm all over the asparagus – it melts so nice and gooey on top and the flavor combo is ridiculous. Actually, asparagus is another one of those things that I didn’t know I liked until recently – Mom actually made me try it when she made it for a dinner party a couple of Christmases ago, and now it’s one of my favorite veggies! Here’s a pic (again, not great photography, but definitely great food!) of the asparagus cooking:

Once the asparagus was sizzling happily away, I decided at the last minute to slice an apple to go with the meal. I didn’t have any dessert, and I wanted something a little sweet and sugary to compliment everything else. It turned out to be the perfect touch! And, for once in my life, the timing was impeccable. I had Al call me when he was leaving work, and I had everything on the table (and took a finished-product picture) right before he walked through the door. Here’s the big and scrumptious surprise:

All in all, it was a worthwhile and appreciated project. Alex was so surprised and happy! He said that the food was delicious, the portions were perfect, and it was just what he needed. A great success! And of course, I can’t forget to give a shoutout to my dedicated sous chef (just kidding, she didn’t touch the food – only wished she was eating it) Roxie – here’s a candid shot of her. Check out her face, she’s totally wondering why there’s not a place set for her at the table…

I know I’ve already been rambling on for too long, but in other news, I got an acceptance letter from another MFA program this week! This one is called Whidbey Island Writers Workshop, and it’s in Washington State. It’s the first Writing MFA in the country to be offered “not by a college or university but by an organization of writers.” It looks like a really awesome place – the pictures on the website make it look like a very writerly environment. I don’t think it’s necessarily the best fit for me for a few reasons, one of them being the obvious fact that it’s across the country and would present far higher travel costs for residencies, but we’ll see. I’m not ruling anything out yet! That leaves, well, a bunch more to go. Is it bad that I can’t even really remember how many programs I applied to? I think it is, but hey, I’ve had a long week already. Maybe on Monday it’ll come back to me. :)

Happy weekend!

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