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.


February 17, 2012


Oh, they look so good!

Wow.  I had a complete culinary failure this week, probably the worst in my history.  And on Valentine's Day no less.  I still laugh when I think about it.

The painful part is that I spent SO MUCH TIME prepping this delectable meal on Sunday, and spent all day Monday and Tuesday hardly containing my excitement for the dinner.  Not only was it going to be our vegetarian meal for the week (which why we are having such trouble finding vegetarian meals just once a week is a full story in and of itself), but it was also a DIY adventure, that helped clean out our freezer and gave me validation that it was worth freezing that ricotta, and saving that tiny little bit of pumpkin.

The culprit?  Pumpkin-Three-Cheese Ravioli.

The dream?  Pumpkin puree, a mixture of goat, mozzarella and ricotta cheese, sage and some other spices, all mixed together then spooned together delicately onto wonton wrappers (a handy trick that is an alternative to making your own pasta!), with a nice Vodka sauce.

The reality?  Where to start...

I spent almost an hour and a half on Sunday afternoon prepping all this - very deliberately stamping each "ravioli" once, then to be sure we didn't have any blowouts, folding the excess wonton wrapper over the existing stamp, and re-stamping.  I made about 30, hoping I could make two meals out of this.  That part was fine - it was going to be worth it.

I decided to freeze them.  They were a little floppy and a little sticky, so I separated them with parchment paper, layer after layer, and froze them.  I mean, you see frozen ravioli's all the time, right?


I knew it was over when I tried to take the ravioli's I had painstakingly handmade out of the container, and they did not move.  Not a one.  I started to pry them, and then hit them, and then bang the entire block against the counter.  None of them moved.

I resorted to chipping, as if I were using an ice-pick, and had wonton wrapper and frozen pumpkin chunks flying all over the kitchen (to immediately thaw and melt into whatever surface it had landed).  I ended up with ONE ravioli that was intact, and a group of them that I just could not free from the parchment paper. So I started boiling the intact one first, in the hopes that maybe we could have one ravioli for dinner.  It cooked just fine.  Phew.  Then I threw all the chipped pieces into the boiling water, knowing they would explode and leak into the water (Ry's fourth least favorite think to eat - blown out ravioli)...but maybe it wouldn't be that bad?

Then, in a last ditch effort to not waste anything, I put the frozen block of parchment paper and broken ravioli's in the water.  They still did not break from the parchment paper, nor did they cook through.  I had to just throw those away.  Sigh.

So, we had (we did actually eat some of this) slimy wonton bits, in pumpkin cheese water, with cold vodka sauce.

Happy Valentine's Day.

February 10, 2012

Writing about Cooking

Anthony Bourdain wrote this on his blog recently:

"Pot au Feu , Coq au Vin, Sup Tulang, Cassoulet, pasta, polenta, confit, —all of them began with the urgent need to make something good and reasonably sustaining out of very little.  So many of the French classics began with the need to throw a bunch of stuff into a single pot over the coals, leave it simmering unattended all day while the family worked the fields, hopefully to return to something tasty and filling that would get them through the next day.  French cooking, we tend to forget now, was rarely (for the majority of Frenchmen) about the best or the priciest or even the freshest ingredients. It was about taking what little you had or could afford and turning it into something delicious without interfering with the grim necessities of work and survival.  The people I’m talking about here didn’t have money—or time to cook."

I really like it.

And my absolute favorite, the intro to Julia Child's Mastering the Art of French Cooking:

"This is a book for the servantless American cook who can be unconcerned on occasion with budgets, waistlines, time schedules, children’s meals, the parent-chauffeur-den mother syndrome or anything else which might interfere with the enjoyment of producing something wonderful to eat."

February 2, 2012

Adultness, 3. Grown-up Adolescents, 2

Point for Adultness:

  • We checked the fuel oil levels and actually got the oil company to come to the house for a refill BEFORE it ran completely out

Point for Grown-Up Adolescents:

  • Have replaced milk intake entirely with chocolate milk

Point for Adultness:
  • Scheduled an appointment with a REAL tax agent

Point for Grown-up Adolescents:
  • We folded all the laundry...but now it's stacked in well-folded towers all around our bedroom.  So close, laundry, so close.

Point for Adultness:
  • Have successfully synched all my calendars (both physical and electronic) and am feeling very organized

Getting there!

(Note to self:  DON'T Google image search "adult".  Now I need to insert a picture of a cute kitten in marshmallows to make me feel better.  Point to Grown-up Adolescents.)