Celebration dinner

7 Feb
In December, just before things got hectic with the Christmas holidays, a major thing happened in our lives here. GP graduated from undergrad for the last time! That is to say, with his second degree, this one a B.S. (in physics – we’re science geeks, you know?) with a minor in math, because he is a little crazy. But what can I say, my minor was biochemistry. 

His Mom & Dad, brother & soontobe sister-in-law, sister, aunt and some cousins all came in to celebrate.  So of course I used this as an excuse to cook a big fancy meal and feed everyone delicious foods while also using the fancy crystal that we got for our wedding. We did not use the fancy china, however, because we didn’t want to spend the rest of the night washing dishes!

Usually, the things I cook are simple and can be made in about a half hour or so. But when it’s a really special occasion I’ll do something that takes a lot of time and effort to cook. Often in these instances, I turn to one cookbook. Giada De Laurentiis’s Everyday Italian. While not a huge fan of her shows, I adore this cookbook. The recipes are actually quite simple, even if they require more time and effort than I usually give. I give it 4 out of 5 stars. For GP’s celebration, I used 3 recipes from this book, and added a fruit salad to the table to give something sweet.  Below are the recipes I used. 2 of them (the pork and the farro) are actually posted on FoodNetwork.com, and the third (grilled vegetables) is just a link to a similar recipe of Ms. De Laurentiis’s.

Pork loin with fig sauce  – Not a bite was left over! I didn’t make the fig sauce, and the pork was just fine without it. Incredibly juicy and tender. It took about 45 minutes to cook, but was very easy to set up.
Grilled vegetables – This isn’t the exact recipe, but one like it. I’ve used the book’s recipe before, and it is always a crowd pleaser. It makes a ton, though, so leftovers hung around for awhile. This was also the most time-consuming part of the cooking, since we just have a small Foreman grill and had to do the veggies in batches. 
Farro salad with tomatoes and herbs – Okay, I wasn’t really sure about making this one, but I had a lot of barley on hand (used in place of the farro) and wanted to get rid of it. It was great! I was hoping to have some of the leftovers with lunch the next day, but GP ate them all. Everyone loved it, including the picky eaters.
For the fruit salad, I’m pretty sure I just cut up some apples, strawberries, and bananas, then knock out a bunch of pomegranate pods. I may have put in some blueberries too, but I can’t remember. No added sugar, just the fruit. 
Now we have another big occasion to celebrate coming up. Our 4th anniversary! GP has already gotten me a gift (how bad am I that I didn’t even realize it was coming so soon?) and I have no idea what to get him. Suggestions? 
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