con mucho gusto

Part one: Life

Last weekend, diets went out the window.  We gorged ourselves on life and friends and food.  Eating it all up.

We were reminded of how fragile life is last week with the sudden loss of a friend.  It stopped us in our tracks.  Broke our hearts.  The loss is deep and scary and so many of us are trying to figure out what happens next.

We had plans for the weekend, and an out of town guest to entertain.  And suddenly it felt profane to carry on - to have fun seemed out of the question.

Nate was the kind of guy who LIVED.  Like, he dive-bombed in to every moment, head first, with gusto.  Boy had enthusiasm, and energy and so much love.  He loved his family, his son, his fiance, his friends, and God with everything he did.

So we decided that is how we would carry on.  THAT is how we would figure out what happens next.  We'll dive in to every moment the way he did.  Con mucho gusto.

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Part two:  Food

I am the kind of girl who will find a reason to bake or make a crap-ton of food for just about any occasion.  Baby shower?  I'll make a couple of cheesecakes!  It's your anniversary?  I've got an amazing pear tart recipe I've been dying to make again.  Bridal shower?  I'd LOVE to make enough meatballs to feed an army of church ladies.  It's Tuesday?  Sounds like a good day to make pie.

So when my boy had a landmark birthday last week (hello, 30!) I jumped in the kitchen with so much gusto, I got whiplash.

The recipes I tried turned out so well, I HAD to share them witcha.

I found a recipe for linguine with slow-cooked zucchini, basil and cream onNPR's Kitchen Window.  At first I looked past this recipe because I have an unnatural hate for zucchini.  It's always served steamed and mushy and it tastes like dog fart. (Sorry, but someone had to say it.)  But I gave the recipe another look when I read this bit in the commentary:

"A wonderful thing happens to zucchini when you slowly cook it over a low flame. It transforms from a bland, watery vegetable to a lovely, pulpy sauce with a subtly nutty flavor."

And I was all - "PROVE IT."

And by Jove, they were right.  I actually let the squash and zucchini cook for about an hour before it got to the point where it was smooshy and fall-aparty.

Here's what I ended up with:

This cost me about id="mce_marker"5 to make and it could have fed 6 people, easily.

THEN, I realized I'd never made a chocolate cake from scratch before... and that seemed like a travesty.  SO, I Googled around a bit (that's what she said) and found this recipe for a dark chocolate cake with lots of good reviews.

I put cherries between the layers and slathered it in dark chocolate frosting (store bought - I wimped out last second).

If you decide to try it out - lemme give you a tip:  let the cake layers rest in the pans in the refrigerator overnight.  They stick together and are so much more moist (*shudder* still hate that word) the next day.  Here's what happened when I didn't do that:

Couldn't even put frosting on it. Still delicious though.

But here's what happened AFTER leaving the layers in the fridge overnight:

Perfection

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Part three:  Friends

After living on the obscene amount of leftovers for a couple of days, we celebrated James' birthday with one of the best things you can do in LA:  we went to a Cinespia movie screening at the Hollywood Forever Cemetery.

And we got to hang out with some amazing people.

 

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