Saturday, February 23, 2013

New Friends, New Traditions

Last night was the first night of what I hope will be a Friday night tradition for a very long time to come.

Two of my housemates from the summer, Suzie and JoJo, (who are also my model couple/the closest thing I have to family in Boston) don't live very far away, but yet we never see each other.  Suzie and I are really busy in grad school, and Jay and JoJo work all the time.  This week, Suzie and JoJo decided to invite me and Jay over for dinner, along with a few other friends that we never see.  I thought it was a great idea!  And then it was suggested that we make it a weekly tradition, and I thought, oh no, another commitment that will draw me away from my homework.  I have never been more wrong in an automatic thought in my life.

Last night, Jay and I went over to Suzie and JoJo's apartment to see a beautiful table set and an elaborate dinner prepared.  We also had the pleasure of meeting two of their friends, Ashley and Suzanne, who were very lovely people that I hope will become my own friends as well.  I asked why they went all out to make it so fancy, and then I remembered, oops!  It's Friday!  That means Shabbat!  Growing up in a town where "Jew" was used as a verb, I was very sheltered from Jewish culture and had no idea what Shabbat was (I actually thought it was a kind of vegetable for a while).  Wesleyan opened my eyes a lot, especially senior year, when I lived with Ariel, who helped cooked Wesleyan's Shabbat dinner every Friday night.  Last night, however, was my first formal invitation to take part of this special family dinner that I admire so much.  It was a dairy meal, so we had a beautiful quiche, pasta, salad, green beans, cod, and of course, two gorgeous golden loaves of braided challah.  And of course, in line with Suzie and JoJo's personal beliefs, lots and lots of alcohol.  Our friend Tony also came right in the middle of the kiddush (the blessing) to participate in the fun.

It was a delicious dinner, with some really awesome conversations, my favorite revolving around why we all wish we were back in college, and we drank LOTS of wine and rye.  I, being the light-weight that I am, was super drunk off 2 glass of wine, which made Cards Against Humanity even more fun.

Jay and I both agreed that it was the best night we have had in a really long time.  And the best part is- we get to do it again every Friday!  I've been really unhappy this school year, and part of that is that I don't get to spend any time with my friends (mostly because I don't have any time).  This new tradition is going to give me a reason to make the time to spend with my Boston family, and make some new friends in the process.

These are the brownies I made as our contribution to the meal:

Nutella Swirl Saucepan Brownies
Recipe adapted from here
Yield: 1 8x8" pan (or 16 small brownies)
1/2 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
1/3 cup vegetable shortening
1 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup cocoa powder
2 eggs
1/2 tsp vanilla
3/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 cup Nutella

Sorry I don't have step-by-step pictures on this one.  I had already spent 6 hours making the salad cake, so I was kind of in a hurry.  For pictures and instructions, please see this post. 

  1. Heat the chocolate chips, shortening, and cocoa powder in a saucepan over low heat until completely melted.  Stir occasionally.
  2. In a separate bowl, whisk together the dry ingredients.  Set aside.
  3. Remove chocolate mixture from heat.  Quickly stir in eggs, sugar, and vanilla.
  4. Then add in the dry ingredients and stir just until combined.
  5. Pour batter over a parchment-lined and greased 8x8" baking dish.
  6. Heat the Nutella in the microwave for 20 seconds and pour over brownie batter.  Then swirl vigorously with a toothpick or butter knife to incorporate the Nutella deeper into the brownies.
  7. Bake at 350°F for 30 minutes.  
  8. Cool in pan on wire rack for 20 minutes, then life the parchment paper out and transfer the brownies to the wire rack to finish cooling completely.
  9. Once they are completely cool, you can cut them with a very sharp knife.  Cutting before they are cool will result in crumbling.

Thank you, Suzie and JoJo, for being such gracious hosts, and sharing your home, your food, and your traditions with us.  I can't wait until next week!

Love and cookies,

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