Monday I tripped off to Wilmington for a visit to downtown to take pictures for the June "Book Tour" feature at Estella's Revenge. Be sure to give it a look when the new issue comes out on June 1st because I found some freakin' fantastic independent bookstores. That's one thing I love about Wilmington as opposed to Dallas or another metropolitan city, it's small, it's artsy, it's progressive, it's a university town, and indie booksellers can actually survive there. I was delighted by the places I found and the people I met, and I think I might've found some new hangouts.
Today has been filled with blowin' and goin'. I woke up at a leisurely 8:30, but since then I've grocery shopped for tonight's Moroccan Chicken and Lentils (recipe below), mailed a bunch of review books for ER, cleaned the bathroom, did my 30 minutes of cardio, weeded the whiskey barrels out front and planted some flowers, cleaned the kitchen, scoured the freelance ads for new gigs, and finally I'm nestled back in bed with the laptop catching up on my bloggy reading and getting ready to apply for some of those freelance gigs I found this morning.
In an attempt to supplement my nonexistent income, I'm writing A LOT. I just finished a flash fiction piece for a writing contest, and I'm getting ready to whip out some more short fiction for contests. Not to mention the aforementioned freelancing. I've gotten one gig, and I'm waiting to hear from some others.
I suppose I've bored you long enough, so here's the good stuff: pics I shot in Wilmington and a recipe for that Moroccan Chicken and Lentils that I mentioned earlier.
One thing I love about downtown Wilmington is all the little marketplaces on the main drag. This one is called Chandler's Wharf. It has several shops inside, but my favorites are a great art gallery and a kickass shoe store. Unfortunately I can't afford any of the shoes they sell inside.
This cute little courtyard is part of the Cotton Exchange, eight historic buildings converted into a multi-story shopping and dining extravaganza. There's a hippie store, bookstores, a shop dealing in everything Celtic, and did I mention the food (German, American, seafood, etc.)?
I spent most of my time in the bookstore and browsing in the hippie store, but I will certainly go back and pilfer their goodies again. I would've loved to try the German cafe on the Water Street side, but I was there on Monday and it was closed.
And finally, all of this gorgeous goodness is located right on the Cape Fear River. This is one of my favorite views, and this one actually came from my car. I parked at a meter on Water Street and got 2 hours for a buck. Given my penchant for bookstores, I was able to hit up two of them for pictures, browse for myself, and walk Front and Water Street. I hit up some of my favorite shops:
Out of Eden Soaps - This is an amazing little store with THE best-smelling soaps and lotion bars I've ever found. I bought the Oatmeal Milk & Honey soap and lotion bar, and I cannot stop smelling myself. It's a little awkward in social situations, but if they smell me then they understand, too. Out of Eden was featured in the March issue of Good Housekeeping Magazine, but I'm proud to say, I FOUND 'EM FIRST!!!!
I'm also a fan of Ladybugs, a store inside one of the cute little markets I showed earlier. While I can't find a web site for them, if you're ever on Front Street in Wilmington, check 'em out. Their entrance is right off of the street. They sell lots of cute little house things and they have THE BEST candles I've ever tried. They're just little votives, but they last forever and smell amazing.
Moroccan Chicken and Lentils
1/2 cup olive oil
1/2 cup red wine vinegar
2 tablespoons ground cumin
2 tablespoons chili powder
2 garlic cloves, minced
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon salt
1-2 cans of lentils
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 large onion, chopped
1 1/2 pounds skinless boneless chicken breast halves (I used tenders) chopped into bite-sized pieces
1 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon cumin
2 teaspoons chili powder
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 cup chopped fresh parsley (garnish)
1. Dressing: Add the olive oil, vinegar, cumin, chili powder, garlic, cinnamon, and salt to a blender bottle or jar with a tight lid. Shake until ingredients are well combined. Set aside.
2. Chicken: Heat 2 tablespoons olive oil in large skillet over high heat. Add onion and sauté until dark brown and soft, about 5 minutes. Add chicken and sauté 2 minutes. Add salt, cumin, chili powder, and cinnamon. Sauté until chicken is cooked through, about 3 minutes longer. Add lentils at the last minute, just to heat through.
3. I pour the "dressing" over the chicken while it's still in the pan and let it sit for a few minutes to soak of the flavors. Plate, top with parsley for garnish, and you're ready to go!
I make a few changes to this recipe when I make it.
- I'm not a huge fan of cinammon, so I put it in the dressing but don't use it in the chicken mixture.
- I make the dressing as far ahead of time as possible so the flavors marry nicely.
- I use canned lentils instead of dried (that the recipe originally called for) so that I don't have to go through the whole boiling process. It cuts the cooking time down by probably half.
- I'm also not a huge fan of using all of the dressing called for in this recipe, so I half the dressing recipe. That adds just enough of a sweet, vinegary kick for me.