I don't really ever adapt well to change. I mean, I adapt eventually, but often not without a good fight. Forget kicking and screaming. I'm usually attempting to chew the face off of whoever or whatever seems to be trying to get me to change some major aspect of my life.
And so I went into the interview and chatted with the Executive Director. It was an odd meeting. We talked shop, yes, and I so can talk it. However, conversation veered towards my stints working in the restaurant biz. She mentioned her husband was a chef at a rather famous Greek restaurant in Sacramento and ten minutes later we were trading recipes for grilled octopus. I left feeling that even if I didn't get the job that I at least knew a good trick to properly massage an octopus in order to make it tender, so yayness there.
I was called back in for a second interview where the rest of the employees (there are only nine) would grill me on their own terms. I faked a doctor's appointment at work and changed into my wedding suit in the car because I have no other suit and sat to a rather intimidating panel in a somewhat grandiose meeting room. The meeting room reminded me of the dinner scene in the first Batman film with Michael Keaton where Bruce Wayne and Ms. Vale sit at that huge table.
I did well. Very well.
I had a feeling it was all cinched when I brushed over my culinary background and assured them all that I was amazing at office potlucks. They all nodded and agreed that there was no room for premade dishes from a deli counter here.
So today was my first day. I think it went rather swimmingly even if I was rather uncomfortable in my new shoes, shirt, belt, socks, and 007 suave gunmetal tie. Still, I looked rawkin'. And me complimenting my looks is saying something. (My ego is part bravado, part truth. You may freely guess which it is at any time of your liking in your future interactions with me.)
Anywhose, I think I'll like it there. I'm no longer at the adoption agency working with children and families. I will miss that immensely. But I was overqualified in a way that the space shuttle crew being hired by FedEx would be overqualified. And that one isn't ego. Those are the words of my HR director the day she hired me at my old job.
Here? I feel like my skills and degree will be put to practical use. These skills also include my cooking abilities and they've made that abundantly clear. It is, in fact, a reason they hired me. So yay. Big yay.
This is all lovely because I plan to celebrate with a little special something I've recently come up with. I've sort of coined it as my little celebration dish. A little something sweet, savory, and salty to declare a big, "Hell yes!" to the world when good changes finally come your way.
The dish is simple: chicken thighs stewed with dates, olives, and tomatoes in a heady aromatic broth swirled with cinnamon, cardamom, turmeric, ginger, and black pepper. Moroccan-ish, I suppose. Maybe even Moorish, though I had something similar in Turkey once so call it what you will.
I call it tasting of success.
The dates were sent to me by Cindy Tullues of Bard Valley Natural Delights Medjool Dates. Now, I'm a fan of dates. They go on my pizzas, into breads, cookies, and even mashed into steaming bowls of oatmeal. If I'm feeling rather clever I'll also stuff them with cheese, coat them in panko, and deep fry them because why the hell not?
Now, I don't do a lot of plugging on this site. They asked if they could send me a sample and I said yes because I have a nostalgic soft spot for them. This post and statement is of my own accord and my accord says this:
Holy balls. These are the best dates I've ever had.
And that's all.
Yes, they are superfood healthy with fiber, potassium, manganese, low glycemic index, and so on and so forth. And that's wonderful, really, I read the material they sent and it was vastly informative. But the taste and texture... that is the seller.
Most dates I buy are usually pitted and, therefore, dry and dessicated. Little more than mummified fruit. These dates (with pits) are luscious, plump, chewy, and have body. Fragrant of maple syrup and tasting of brown sugar with whispers of (strangely enough) anise.
They're epic. Plus, the natural sugar is more than enough to flavor the stew. They make it floral, molasses-y, and so incredible sweet. Most stews of this sort requires a slug of honey, but the dates do just enough. Suave and silky they hit the spot and make this dish - like a new job - one worth celebrating.
Now, I have enough dates to last a lifetime as they were more than generous. To spread the wealth I'll be sending a swanky prize package of dates and date products (like date rolls wrapped in crushed pistachios, almonds, and coconut) to a lucky reader. Just leave a comment with note about your favorite way to cook or serve dates. That's it. Contest closes at 12PM PST on October 12, 2012. United States residents only. The winner will be announced on October 16. The winner will need to email me an address to send the prize to.
Good luck, ya'll. However, I encourage you to go find this brand of dates. Really. Do it. Be one of the cool kids for once.
Moroccan-ish Chicken Stew with Dates and Olives
4 tablespoons peanut oil, divided
2 pounds chicken thighs, boneless
1 large onion, halved and sliced
3 garlic cloves, crushed
2 teaspoons ground coriander
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground cardamom
1/2 teaspoon turmeric
1 teaspoon black pepper
1 teaspoon sea salt
1/4 cup freshly grated ginger
1 14-oz can crushed tomatoes
1/2 lemon, thinly sliced, rind and all
1 cup green olives (go high end on this, seriously)
1 cup chopped Medjool dates, chopped, pits discarded
1 tablespoon honey
1 cup chicken broth (homemade preferred, but whatevs)
1. Place 3 tablespoons of the peanut oil in a large stock pot over medium high heat. Working in batches sear the chicken thighs until golden brown and set aside.
2. Add the rest of the peanut oil, onions, and garlic. Cook until the onions begin to sear a bit and take some color. Reduce heat to medium. Add the cardamom, coriander, cinnamon, turmeric, salt, black pepper, and ginger and cook for about thirty seconds. Add the rest of the ingredients and be sure to scrape up the goodness at the bottom of the pot.
3. Bring to a boil, then simmer and cover for about 45 to 60 minutes. Serve over rice.