October 19, 2012

Fall of the Year

Hey, ladies!

I've never heard this phrase before a year or so into my relationship with Ry.  Apparently it's a real saying, that means fall's a comin'.  Despite my skepticism, I now believe it's a real phrase, and not another one of Ry's nuggets of wisdom that he attributes to wise people, his father or famous people, only to then whisper to me later that he just made it up on the spot.  He makes up really good, quotable sound bites, and earns credibility by attributing it to someone who has more years or experience (and hence wisdom) than he.  Smart guy.  Gets me every time.

It's now fall of the year here in Vermont.  The leaves have turned and fallen. The Connecticut and New York and New Jersey license plates have come, stalled traffic to a complete stop, bought chainsaw carvings of bears, eaten at Ben & Jerry's, and gone.  Now it's pretty much stick season.  And it's been rainy.

A great time of year to be a new mom, sitting at home, nursing and holing up.  It makes for quite cozy times, with a cuddly new born.

Top ten things that I have learned about motherhood, and about Harper:

  1. Harper does not like wearing hats.
  2. I am not afraid of whipping my breasts out in public nor in front of anyone.  I have no more modesty.  They are vehicles for life-giving milk, people! (Often times I forget to put them away, or adjust my clothes post-nursing, and Ry has to remind me that I am half dressed and disheveled.)
  3. Bouncy seats and swings were made by really smart people who were obviously parents.
  4. Harper smiles.  I don't care what anyone says, it's not gas, it's smiles.
  5. My baby is the cutest baby in the world.
  6. It is possible to have a newborn and make dinner.  Sometimes.
  7. Cloth diapers get really wet really quickly, and get everything near them wet, too.
  8. It's true what they say - having a baby is the worst thing you can do for the environment.  I do laundry every day; I use up more hot water washing bottles and breast pump dishes than I ever have before; we leave lights on, and air purifiers and humidifiers and night lights.  To name a few.
  9. I've learned new words and abbreviations from online parenting sites:
      • BTDT Mom - now I myself am a Been There Done That mom
      • BM - both breast milk AND bowel movement.  Don't confuse them.
      • DH, DS, DD - darling husband, son or daughter
      • Photo Bomb - a s*** ton of photos of your DS or DD or LO (little one)

The rest of this post will be a photo bomb.

Pooh face.


My baby can already hold pacifiers in his mouth.  Gifted.



Naptime.



Paci in the eye.


Finally big enough for a baby carrier, which means we can simultaneously drink coffee while holding Harper.


Norse God.


Get in my belly.

First foliage.





August 28, 2012

Back on My Feet

I can't believe the last time I wrote was July 5th, when I wanted ice cream.  Oh, to be young again.  So much has happened since that time.  Here's the short story.*

I went the to the hospital on July 6th with contractions.  We stayed for a long weekend.  The bed rest sentence got stricter.

My water broke on August 18th at midnight.  We went to the hospital.  Out came a baby!

Harper William was born on 8/20/2012 at 3:20pm, just hours under 32 weeks gestational age.  He was 3 lbs 15 oz, and 17 inches long.  He is a doll...very small, but proportional, and cute as can be.  He is in the NICU and will be for a while, but we are coping.  It is made easier by the fact that he is doing so damn well right now.  The emotion behind that is too much to write about now.  Suffice to say, we had a rough go of it, but are beyond lucky, beyond fortunate, beyond blessed to have been dealt the hand we have.  And we know it.

So, here I am, back at home again, recovering from major abdominal surgery (did I mention it was a c-section?), and I am thrilled.  The fact that I can sit in chairs, eat at tables, move around the house -- albeit slowly -- is soul satisfying.  No more bed rest!

I have been pushing it, because it's so tempting to be able to do stuff again, and I know that is bad. But I still feel physically OK...and I still have pain meds.  The first place I started was the kitchen, of course.  Our garden is producing, and it is just too hard to watch stuff go by when I can finally get my hands on it!

I am rusty, however.  So far I have...

  • burned myself with hot oil
  • burned toast
  • set the fire alarm off while making eggs
  • ate an eggshell in the same egg dish
  • forgot tomatoes on Ry's grilled TOMATO and cheese sandwich (it's three ingredients...c'mon)
But I did make a few wonderful things...
  • roasted tomato sauce (froze two ziplock bags flat)
  • pasta bake with said roasted tomato sauce
  • peach, corn, black bean "salsa" - it's more like a salad
  • tomato, mozzarella, basil, grilled chicken panini in a bowl
  • grilled chicken and corn "succotash" over pasta
The succotash dish was/is amazing (I am eating it right now), and I am pretty sure I invented it, so I am going to write up the recipe shortly and post it.

Til then, here is our beautiful baby boy.  Love.



*Long story will follow.

July 5, 2012

What I Want Most Right Now...

Is this...

That is a mint chocolate chip ice cream cone from Friendly's, on a plain cone.

We have been buying a lot of these lately:


...and I fear I may have become addicted.  I have a moderate portion at the end of every night.  Ok, and sometimes a small portion in the middle of the day if I am working at home.

Today I am working at work, and can't stop thinking about the green, crunchy, minty, sweet, chocolatey, refreshing treat that is sitting at home waiting for me.

Yes, we live in Vermont so I should be eating Ben and Jerry's.  Sure, we try to eat really healthy and locally and blah blah blah, so I really shouldn't be eating a lot of dyed foods.  With unnatural flavors. 

But there is something still so wholesome and pure about the old-fashioned, traditional GREEN mint chocolate chip ice cream flavor.  And, growing up in Massachusetts, I know Friendly's is the best.  Because, like most other amazing things in the world, Massachusetts is the home of Friendly's.  I would even venture to say that perhaps this ice cream is almost local...since it comes from Western Mass, and I grew up in Western Mass, and we are currently near to Western Mass. 

Nothing else really compares.  The chocolate chips crunch in your molars a certain way that is simply perfection.  (And they then get stuck in your molars, but that just means you have a treat for later, when you get to pick out the chunks with your tongue.)  And the green just tastes better.


June 29, 2012

And oh, how we shall eat...

Just because I'm on the couch doesn't mean we aren't eating well!  Ry has taken his new role of sole-dinner maker to a whole new level.  I swear, I haven't eaten this well in a looong time.

Does this mean that I am not actually that good of a cook? Or that it just tastes better when someone else makes it?  Or are we eating simpler, more wholesome meals where the ingredients just shine on their own?  Or is it that we're starting to eat things from our garden!?  We did just buy a gas grill, which has helped revolutionize and expand our culinary repertoire.

Either way, here is a sampling of our meals recently:

Marinated grilled pork chops and peaches.  Greens from our garden.
Grilled shrimp and whole-wheat linguini with garlic scape pesto.
Boiled beets and greens with butter, vinegar, salt and pepper.
Paaaaastaaa with a hearty chicken and vegetable sauce.  This is my death row meal.  Or my special occasion meal, if you want to look at the lighter side of life.
Steak, beets and simple green salad.
More grilled pork chops, whole wheat couscous and Kat & Ed Tomato Chutney, and simple green salad.
Yeah, that's Mickey Mouse.  Ry made me Mickey Mouse pancakes, for peet's sake!

Here is the recipe from Bon Appetit for the Marinated Pork Chops we used, and we substituted marjoram for oregano.

Enjoy.

June 22, 2012

Fists of Solidarity (or Being a Couch Potato)



Our pregnancy isn't what you'd call "normal."  At the risk of giving too much information, I have a short cervix, and need a bunch of interventions to ensure that this baby stays in his cooker.  So, I've had a procedure (success!), and am getting weekly hormone shots (Ry will be starting to give them to me next week)...and I am sentenced to "couch potato rest."

Being in the hospital for the procedure was kind of a big deal, but we only had to be there for 9 hours.  The couch potatoeness, on the other hand, has been a much bigger deal, and one that we will be dealing with for the next 13 weeks.  We are dealing with it quite well, though, one-week in.  We had one tough day of transition, but then I'm proud to say we quickly developed a routine--which we like--and it hasn't been all that bad.

Ry has been amazing - cooking, cleaning, laundering, vacuuming, gardening, getting me everything. We can't decide which is going to be harder once this sentence lifts - me stopping asking for everything, or Ry being in charge of everything.  He has been quite impressive, even labeling condiments that he just opened with the date that he opened them.  Genius.  I think we are both learning a lot about each other.

Everyday I pretend I am one of two things.  The first is a lazy high school teenage girl (which I used to be), who only wants to lay outside in the sun, tan, paint nails and read trashy magazines classic novels.  The other thing I pretend, and mostly when Ry is around waiting on me hand and foot, is that I am completely loaded (like Pregnant in Heels* loaded), and have an actual butler, and I just sit around while someone does everything for me.

I am incredibly fortunate that I am still able to work, and actually haven't had as much time as I thought I would to knit, read, do crosswords, organize iPhoto because I have been working 40 hours a week!  Thank goodness for computers!  I work with a woman who was on strict bed rest for 20 weeks, before the days of the internet, and THAT would be challenging.  This is still hard, but I think I am in the best worst case scenario possible.  

So, here is my set up from 8:30 - 5:
 

And this is me, pretending I can still garden:


























(Note my awesome $50 reclining chair from Walmart.  Game-changing).

I originally thought I'd be blogging constantly and maybe I still will, once I get bored.  But in the meantime, I ask you to help us keep strong and positive with a Fist of Solidarity.  Close your fist strong, and point it at the nearest cervix, and think/wish/pray/visualize my cervix staying CLOSED and STRONG for the next 14 weeks.  We have to keep this baby boy (yes it's a baby BOY) in!

XO

*I've only watched pieces of one episode, so I am only assuming it's about rich people who are pregnant.  I hope to watch more of it soon.  Maybe that'll be my project for weeks 3 - 5 of this sentence.



June 4, 2012

I think I just made Refried Beans from scratch.

Refried Beans - you just take beans and fry them, right?  Actually I am not so sure.

We had tacos the other day, and didn't have any refried beans, and I really really wanted some.  Consider it a craving, and the only answer is to find refried beans.  No other option exists.  I popped into the pantry and found some kidney beans.

"I think I got this," I said to myself.

Potato masher, big spoon, bowl.  I drain the kidney beans of most of their water.  I mush them all  up.  I heat up some olive oil in a cast iron, and add the mush.  I add some paprika, chili powder, cumin, salt and black pepper.  I stir.  I taste.

They taste like refried beans!  But more importantly, they remind me of the dried refried bean mix you can buy at bulk food stores that I used to eat while camping.

In 2004, I hiked the Long Trail the length of Vermont with a great friend.  We joke that even though we felt pain for each and every single step of the 272-mile hike, it was still the greatest experience.  We had ravenous appetites.  We hiked with two other men, who for some reason, could handle the 12 - 15 mile days with nothing more than a Lipton soup packet and a granola bar.

We, however, had to eat at least 6 full meals to feel satiated.

The point of the story, however, is that dried refried bean mix became our dessert.  Our after dinner treat.  Our last chance before bed to pack on the calories.  So we ate the mix, spoonful by spoonful.  Dry.  My trail-palate thought it tasted like Doritos.  But each time we'd gorge on these Doritos, we'd then drink a lot of water and those Doritos would double, maybe even triple, in size in our stomachs.  It led to some massive stomach aches.

I recreated them in my kitchen, years later.  This time without the stomach aches.  I'll call that a success.

May 17, 2012

Maternity Journal: The First Trimester (Part 2)

Now that I am safely into the second trimester, I am happy to reflect back on those first 13 weeks.  We found out very early on, both because I had a premonition the day I'm pretty sure it happened and was henceforth paying extra attention to my body.  And something was up.  Because I could just "tell" something was up, exactly 4 weeks after my LMP (last menstrual period, and pardon my TMI), we took the test and, sure enough, a plus sign!

So elation ensued!  And uncertainty and a little hysteria, but mostly elation and happy disbelief in the miracle of life.

Those first few weeks it was SO hard not to tell anyone.  But that didn't stop us because we are terrible secret keepers.  We ended up telling some friends, family and co-workers, because we couldn't keep this giant news to ourselves! 

But there were lots of implications job-wise and social-life-wise as well, which made us "have" to tell some folks.  Like was I still going to travel to Africa for work (another topic for another day)?  Like how was I going to try to pretend like I was still drinking?  (We generated some creative ways, but never used them because I am a terrible liar and faker, and I ended up just ordering water, which was a dead-giveaway for some).

It wasn't like we were shouting it from the rooftops, though, as for me it felt like I ended up telling people as an excuse.  Like why wasn't I drinking?  Why can't I go to Africa?  For me, I spent the first few times telling people using it as an apology of sorts, and trying to hide it, and ending up feeling a bit sheepish when I finally admitted it.

Everyone we told was elated, but I still felt guilty somewhat because this thing that was happening to me was causing others inconvenience or changing plans or pause.  I didn't realize how this effected me until I cried one day (big surprise), and it evolved into me feeling weird, detached and kind of sad about being pregnant.  Ry pointed out that I'd been living with this pregnancy as an apology, and with negative feelings, and that I needed to start thinking positively about it.  That realization was everything.

From then on, my perspective and my mood changed.  I relished moments when I got to tell people, and made a conscious effort to make sure I was announcing it and not apologizing for it.  We still waited to get out of the woods miscarriage-wise and tried to wait the standard 12 - 14 weeks for it to become public knowledge, which was tough.  That's why I didn't blog much - because how do I write about other things when there is literally only one thing on my mind?  And because I was tired, and kind of pukey.

I think the best thing that came out of that low point was Ry and I developed a nightly routine where we take 5 minutes, both put our hands on my belly, and talk to our baby.  Sending it positive thoughts, and building a connection.  Reiki for babies.

May 16, 2012

Chicken Pot Pie

I love me some chicken pot pie.  But it has to be homemade...by me.  I guess I would try someone else's, but I've been skeptical about all other chicken pot pies.  I used to want to vomit at the idea of peas, carrots and cream of chicken soup in a tiny aluminum pie tin that you cook from a frozen state.  It was right up there with water chestnuts as "foods I hate."  I have no idea, then, why I took the leap to making my own chicken pot pie with the Joy of Cooking recipe.

But I'm sure glad I did. 

It's great comfort food.  It's great for tons of leftovers.  It's one of those dishes that's great for a rainy or cold Sunday of long cooking.  However, this Monday, I discovered it could be done on a weeknight...after working 1/2 hour later...and doing 'major marketing'.  *See below for tangent.

Usually when I make it, I roast a whole chicken (instead of poaching it, like Joy tells me to).  So, that's an hour at least right there.  But on Monday, I bought one of my new favorite tricks-of-the-trade, a rotisserie chicken.  Not just any rotisserie chicken - a rotisserie chicken that was reduced to sell, so it was only $3.00.  That's right, folks, the Manager Special saved me time AND money.

So then I went home, shredded the chicken, cut the veggies, made 'creamed chicken', sauteed said vegetables, combined, made biscuits (also Joy of Cooking recipe) and layered them on top.  We are still eating the leftovers for lunch today.

Some other substitutions I made to the recipe (which you can find in the Joy on page 103):
  • I added asparagus and rehydrated porcini mushrooms.
  • I used mostly milk and some light cream.
  • I went with the Basic Rolled biscuit recipe, and while I usually substitute some of the white flour for wheat, I went all white this time because I knew it would taste better.  No offense, wheat flour, but as healthy as you are, you're just not the same.  I also reduced the amount of baking powder to 1/2 tbl.
  • One time I used a heart shaped cookie cutter to make the biscuits.  Extra love.
Sorry, no pictures. But here is a link to a blog called The Joy of The Joy of Cooking, which has a lovely post about this exact recipe, with lovely pictures.

***

*"Major Marketing" is the term my mother gave to epic grocery store trips.  Where you had literally nothing but mayonnaise in the fridge, and you knew it was going to be a full cart or two, and three digits on the bill before you left the store.  It was my favorite kind of grocery store trip.  A clean slate.  Lots of new stuff.  And because we already knew that a lot of money was going to be spent, it was a chance to get a few treats out of it.


Another benefit of going to the market with mom, whether it was major marketing or not, was we got to eat one packet of "fun fruits," our term for those gummy fruit snacks that come in shapes like sharks, or my personal favorite, deer terds.  We got to eat one IN. THE. STORE.  Such rebels, we were.  That one packet was in addition to our "one packet per day" rule, so we got to double our sugar intake if we went marketing with her.

May 8, 2012

Maternity Journal: The First Trimester Part 1

Now that I'm out of the first trimester, it's fun to look back and laugh at all the things that were happening to my body.  None of them were very funny at the time.  Although I do think Ry wanted to laugh, but he knew better.  We kept a few lists.

Things that Made Me Cry (and wow, did I cry!)

  • the concept of bridesmaids
  • Taco scratching me, and I got sad and wanted to give him up for adoption
  • My child not liking me...
  • ...and vise versa
  • Money
  • Needing a new car
  • Morgan Freeman at the Oscars
  • Forrest Gump (when they showed part of it during a montage at the Oscars)
  • the Prince of Monaco talking about the 30th anniversary of his mother, Grace Kelly's, death (again, at the Oscars - that was a rough night)
  • the Top Chef Finale
  • finding a piece of paper from 2009 when Ry and I were courting and he used to keep tally of all my sneezes
  • because "Taco doesn't have any friends"
  • Ry teaching our kid to fish
  • Ry being a dad
  • My dad being a grandfather
  • Ry and I being a co-leading team forever (ok, those last three, you'd have to be made of stone not to cry)
  • the song Starlight by Muse (I think I want it on some sort of Birthing Mix)
  • well, lots of songs really
Those were the only ones we wrote down, but believe you me, there were lots of others.  I am so glad Ry had the foresight to right those all down, in the moment, as I was crying in the corner...

May 5, 2012

Garden 2012

This year is the third year we'll be living in this house.  It's also our third anniversary of us as a couple.  And it's the third year of our garden.

Vermont has had a great Spring for gardening, especially compared to last year.  Warm weather early, enough rain, but not too much, some sunny days.  In this series of pictures, it's late March.  We kept notes from last year, and on the exact same weekend, there was a foot of snow.  The mud pit didn't leave our garden until June!  This year we were able to work the tiller through the soil like it was a hot knife through butter.

This first weekend of gardening was perfect.  The soil, the weather, the tiller were all cooperating.  We spread a yard of compost.  And it was the first year we didn't have to dig up sod - ugh.  We put up trellises, and we planted 200 peas - so we can make baby food!  And tons of carrots and beets.  

Best of all, though, we worked together flawlessly.  It was as if we, just like the soil, needed 2 years of practice and love and trial and error to figure out how best to grow vegetables together. 

* * *

These first two are from our first year gardening.  You can see how much sod we needed to move.  Who needs a tiller when you have muscles and a hazel hoe? 


Notice Ry's long hair.

That was then, this is now...well, this is after the Spring thaw.





I even dug up some potatoes and parsnips - what a delicious and gratifying surprise.

We didn't harvest any potatoes last year - we assumed they all died, but apparently not.
Parsnips! Potatoes! Garden Kitty!

Proud.





Tilling, and garlic.


Spreading compost.


8 weeks pregnant!





Garlic.  It's our first time.

Peas, for our little sweet pea.





Taco, Garden Kitty.

Then, on Sunday, we built a raised bed out of 100% repurposed materials - an old bookcase, burlap coffee sacks, barn boards and windows!  Equally as gratifying to do such a project and not need to buy anything.
My handyman.

May 3, 2012

Announcement!

We can't hide it anymore - we're having a baby!


This is our ultrasound from 6 1/2 weeks. The big dark area is the uterus, and the tiny little doo-hickey is the yolk sac.

We've kept this secret from friends, family and the social media world for so long. That was one of the toughest things we've done - a blog post in itself.  But we're now 16 weeks along, my belly is slightly bigger (but is that baby or my organs being pushed up?).

Today I got to see it MOVE in an ultrasound.  It was an absolute miracle that I did not expect to be as powerful as it was.  He (or she) was flipping all around, fluttering this way and that, and flailing about.  I could not believe all that movement was happening inside me and I couldn't feel it.

So, I'd recommend you re-read all my blog posts from the past three months, keeping in mind that all I want to say is - I am pregnant! I feel nauseous! I want pickles! I think chicken is gross! I am bloated! Commercials make me cry! I am so tired! Instead I had to post sporadically about such nonsense as weekly menus...when all I wanted was take-out.

Mark your calendars, blogfriends, for October 17th (well, as I found out today, it might actually be October 16th because it's a Leap Year...so we don't actually know our due date!)  Much more to come.


April 30, 2012

Re-integrating Part 2 (or How to Chop an Onion)



Tonight, lasagna.

I realized this weekend that the key ingredient to me feeling reintegrated into my routine is chopping an onion.  It is comforting.  It is comfortable.  It means I am making a meal from scratch.  It means that garlic is soon to follow, and then who knows?  It doesn't really matter what comes next.  Onions start most of our dishes.

Last year we grew all of our own onions for the Fall 2011-Summer 2012 year.  We planned out how many onions we eat a week (4, on average) and then simply multiplied it by 52.  Then - BAM - we planted 208 onion seeds.  No big deal.

Actually it was.

It was my greatest gardening achievement to date.  They were big, beautiful, robust, flavorful, tear-inducing and plentiful.  I braided a few onions together, too.  For eight months now, we have reached into the crate in the closet day after day, and grabbed our own onion babies and returned to the kitchen to chop chop chop.  From seed to bulb to cast iron.

I was taught to chop an onion when I was working at Great Harvest Bread Co.  At Thanksgiving time (the busiest season for GHBC), we made "stuffing bread" with onions, celery, sage and other stuffing flavors.  So we had to chop hundreds of onions.  I went from rookie to well, a shade past a rookie real quick.  But now I get it.  And it's one of the skills I am so thankful I have.

It's quite simple and fast.  Jacques Pepin has a great video.  But I like Julia Child's description in Mastering the Art of French Cooking.  If you learn one kitchen skills, make this be it.  You won't regret it.


Onion seedlings.

Despite the dark closet, they know it's spring time.



April 27, 2012

Re-integrating

My recent absence from the blog world is due to a work trip that took me to Portland OR for the Specialty Coffee Association of America's annual conference and tradeshow.  It was HUGE - over 10,000 people in attendance, and over 5 days of chock-a-block workshops, booth time, receptions, parties, dinners and schmoozing.

It was exhausting and fun and a great experience.

Now I am struggling to get back to life.  It is so hard, and I don't know why!  It could be part jet-lag, part recovering from a varying sleep schedule (or lack of sleep entirely, given that I slept for about 6% of the red-eye).  Either way, this week has been torture.

The torture is mostly about my sleep (I just can NOT get out of bed!).  But it's also about eating.  I am usually so good about having a plan, and having food, and having back up food.  But I am so tired, that I just can't think about planning or grocery shopping or food preparation.  Ugh.

This happened back in March when I went to NYC for another coffee tradeshow.  That wasn't even a different timezone; it was just a long weekend.  And it took me TWO WEEKS to get back into the rhythm of eating.

My recovery ends up being a week of eating out - both lunch and dinner.  And Ry is right along with me, because he is just as thrown off after being solely responsible for his food for a week or so, and then I come back and pass my discombobulation off to him, too.  We're just one hot (hungry) mess.

I am confident however, that because the weekend is tomorrow, we'll get back on track.  We even made a shopping list for after work tonight, and have an idea of what we're going to have for dinner.  Thank goodness.


April 4, 2012

Weekly Menu 4/1 - 4/7



It's been a grilled cheese kind of week so far.  It's OK to have the same thing two days in a row, right?

Sunday - beef fajitas with sauteed onions and peppers.

Monday - Kate's Nuggs (made by Ry with extra love and extra marinating time - delish) and grilled cheese and avocado on homemade oatmeal molasses bread. I made it from the Tassajara Bread Book, and have finally dare-I-say mastered? the yeasted bread recipe enough to add fun ingredients.

Tuesday - Spring Harvest Parsnip Soup (that I invented!  Recipe coming soon, although, spoiler alert, it's pretty much just like the Squash Bisque recipe, just with parsnips instead of butternut squash...) and grilled cheese and avocado on homemade oatmeal molasses bread. Threw some broccoli into the soup for added BOOM.  And nutrients.

Wednesday - Sweet Potato and Black Bean enchiladas.  I am SO excited.

Thursday - Uh-oh.  Forgot about Thursday.  Looks like we won't be eating after all.

Friday - heading to Massachusetts for an Easter/Birthday weekend with the fam, so who knows what we'll eat tonight.

Saturday - Dad's Birthday Dinner - 2 Roast Chickens, fancy bread from VT, braised parsnips, spinach salad, and I get to make a cake - oh, what to make!?!  When the world is my oyster like this, I am sometimes wrought with indecision.  It's not everyday I get to make a birthday cake of my choice!



 Here is a picture for today that will indicate the theme of my next blog post...


March 27, 2012

New Favs

Three two new-to-me food & life blogs to love:

Cup of Jo

Which led me to this one, because of a saliva-inducing tomato sauce with ricotta...

The Wednesday Chef

I will be adding them to the Blog List soon.

March 26, 2012

Weekly Menu 3/26 - 3/30

Unrelated to blog post picture, featuring friend Heather, demonstrating how wide the aisles are at a Brooklyn Trader Joe's - HUGE.  

Dang, I am on a roll with blog posts today.  It's probably because I am home sick, which is sad because it is not actually fun to be sick.  But if I've learned anything it's that if I am going to blog consistently, I should probably quit my job.

It's ironic really.  Sometimes I will myself to get sick so I can stay home to get all the stuff done that I need to.  Then I actually get sick, and I feel guilty because I am missing so much stuff at work that I have to do.  Furthermore, when you are sick, you don't actually feel like doing anything productive.  Vicious cycle.  The only answer is to live in France where they work like 20 hours a week or something awesome like that.

Anyways, down to business.  Because I am sick, I am relegated to the couch and the computer, and still have my mental capacities to do some menu planning.  For those of you who don't know the joys of menu planning, there have been two great blog posts elsewhere recently about it from two masters of the universe - Dinner: A Love Story, and Dinners In The FourOneFive.

Monday - tempeh stir-fry, salad and rice (Hoorah! A Meatless Monday!)

Tuesday - chicken and artichokes*, and roasted potatoes

Wednesday - beef tacos.  Finally, back to our weekly routine with friends to eat tacos.  This time the men of the bunch will combine it with racking some homebrew to secondary.  Us females will probably do something equally as exciting, like knit or talk about sewing machines.  (Actually we'll probably talk about how Syracuse is out of the tournament.  Sad face.)

Thursday - ravioli (NOT HOMEMADE - NEVER AGAIN) & homemade tomato sauce, using the last of the jars from last summer.

Friday - shrimp cocktail, and salmon and brussels sprouts.


*Sometimes it takes Ry a few days to read my blog posts.  I'm hoping this is one of them, because this chicken and artichoke dish is actually in a mustard sauce.  I blogged back and forth with DALS about the mustard in this sauce, and I have been assured that it doesn't taste mustardy, or I can simply leave it out.  But if I write the actual name of the dish, Ry might read it and get a preconceived notion about it's mustardiness.  Don't tell.

Fancy


It's amazing what just a little fanciness can do.  Ry and I have actual silver silverware.  Now, it's not polished, and it doesn't match.  Ry either got it from a thrift store, or from leftover from his grandmother.  

We also eat off of actual china.  When we first started wedding planning, I bought all the cheap pretty plates from thrift stores I could find, with the thought that we would have funky, unmatching, fancy plates for our wedding.  When we realized what madness that would have been for two wedding parties, and 150 guests x 2, and for doing our own dishes, and for carting them around from Virginia to Massachusetts to Vermont, we decided against it.  However, not before we collected a few gems, like the one above.  

So most nights, even if we're just having chicken sausage, edamame and rice, it looks like we are dining like royalty - with china and silver.  And it just makes us so happy.  We fight over the above plate, because it's the fanciest.  The same goes for using a tablecloth - it changes the whole mentality about dinner.


Poison Noodles


Man, do I love ramen.  The good kind, the real kind, the bad kind...well, mostly the bad kind.  It is just so tasty.  It might be that it is actually tasty (it actually is), or that it reminds me of the special treat that it was in my childhood.  It reminds me of afternoons after sports practice, before dinner, where we needed a little snack.  It was the first food I learned to prepare on my own by memory, and I took pride in the fact that I memorized exactly how long the noodles needed to cook - no timer needed.  I learned the exact time the noodles were done by the way they floated to the top.  Too long and they were soggy; too soon and they were crunchy.  But I could tell by how they floated and the amount of boiling bubbles if they had reached that magical point.  

My mom dubbed them "poison noodles" because she thought they were terrible for us.  That's fine, but she did keep on buying them, so my brother and I kept on loving them.  In my ravenous adolescent days, I would make two packages for myself at once.  My brother and I would alternate who got to use the wooden toaster-tongs as "chopsticks."

My favorite flavor is Shrimp, much to other people's disgust.  Hey, I can't help it.  That fishy flavor just sings to me.

Ry and I also purchase ramen, and I believe I've even blogged about how we have started to make fancy ramen.  Because, let's face it, it's bad for you.  But if you fill it with vegetables and a healthy protein (like actual shrimp), I feel better about it.  I even made real ramen from a recipe in Bon Appetit, and it was delish.  Not the same, but delish.  

March 19, 2012

February Rut & Sunshine

This is my first blog post in a really long time.  A really really long time.  Sorry.  I have a million excuses - I'm too busy; I don't have time; after being at work all day, the last thing I want to do is get on the computer; I have nothing to talk about right now.  I could go on.  But that's not important.  What is important is that I am writing again.  Now.

Yesterday was amazing.  80 degrees in the sunshine, in March!  It was glorious, beautiful, uplifting, inspiring.  It's incredible how just a little warmth and sun can change everything.  It was like having two full weekend days in one.  We got SO much done, and it was great because we did it all together, at a relaxed pace.

We walked around the garden, harvested a few parsnips, and plotted this years layout.  We drank coffee in the front yard with my brother and girlfriend for a few hours.  We wore sandals, shortpants and I, a tank top.  We planted tomato seeds - an entire tray.  We cleaned out the shed, and brought stuff to the dump.  We got wings and burritos at our local eatery.  We watched an NCAA basketball game (my bracket is doing well, I might add).  We cleaned up the yard a bit.  We did two loads of laundry and hung them on the LINE to DRY.  Heaven.  We took a walk / run.  We went grocery shopping.  I read a magazine.  We made potato salad and chicken salad. We bought an old farmhouse sink for our house on Craigslist.  Taco discovered the outdoors.  AND we watched a movie and went to bed.  What a day!

My brother said that he just told his girlfriend, if things are ever bad between us, we have to promise to wait until Spring to make any big decisions.  Because just one sunny day can change everything.

High Mowing Seeds - Cortland Onions.  Planted March 2.



February 18, 2012

Recently (or Lists for Today)

We have been eating...
  • Spaghetti and meatballs - a SUCCESSFUL Sunday night meal preparation, with plenty of meatballs to spare.  I used Barefoot Contessa's meatball recipe, except just used beef because that is all we had (and what we will continue to only have for years to come...given that we bought 200 lbs of a cow for Christmas that we slaughtered ourselves).
  • KALE - I never thought I'd see the day that Ry said "wow, this kale is great. Can i bring it for lunch tomorrow?"  He's come a long way since seeing it only as lizard food.
  • Strawberry ice cream and Hershey's chocolate syrup
  • Smoothies with vanilla yogurt, frozen peaches and fresh squeezed orange juice
  • Lentil and Sausage Stew - it's cliche at this point, but thanks Ina... I didn't add the red wine vinegar and it was just fine
  • Bowls and bowls of citrus - grapefruit, clementines, oranges...it doesn't matter.  I don't know what I would do without this thing:


We have been thinking about...
  • Starting seeds for the garden season. It's time to start onions, and boy golly, we have been eating our home-grown onions from last year for months now, and still have plenty left, without any rationing.  It's the greatest gardening achievement of my life.  They are big, beautiful, surviving storage, and quite flavorful.
  • Our next moves with our land in Massachusetts.  The sugar shack is down (except for ruins now), there are a handful of trees left, and we've burned a few of the giant piles.  I think our next step will be to talk to the excavator man and talk about him leveling the land come Spring time.

  • Brewing beer - but what else is new?
  • Exercising - between yoga, walks, and Ry's new sneakers, we hope to whip ourselves into shape.
  • the Top Chef Finale
  • Me buying a new car - Subaru or Volkswagen?
  • How cuddly and cute Taco is becoming.  He is biting less! But he's started to jump INTO the sink in the kitchen.  No bueno.