Thursday, June 30, 2011

Violet Vinegar, take 2.

 I got this idea last year from another local blogger, now found at Crunchy Chelle, and I thought I'd give it another shot this year.  My yard was gorgeous this spring when the violets were in bloom and I sat myself down one sunny weekend day and just picked.  I don't put anything on my lawn so no worries there.  I gave the flowers a good rinse, packed them in a mason jar, filled it with white vinegar and let time do it's work.  I only made one jar so I don't have a lot of product, but I will get a salad or two out of it.  Mostly, I just thought it was pretty sitting on my windowsill.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

After a long, miserable day of cleaning, I snuck out for a beer with family and friends at my favorite local watering hole.  Having absolutely no desire or ability to cook in my kitchen, I glanced over my shoulder at the special board to see if there was anything I wanted to take to go.  I think I exclaimed out loud, because my companions also turned to look and we were all drawn to an appetizer special.

House-made Mozzarella, pan seared in duck fat, with avocado, mango and raspberry gastrique.

Hoooollllyyyyy Crap.

My Uncle, who almost never orders food at the bar declared that we MUST try this and ordered up a serving for us to split.  It was amazing.  Better with the mango than avocado, but just, absolutely amazing.  I'm sure my heart will stop from eating cheese fried in duck fat but I don't care, I'll die happy.  The picture simply doesn't do it justice but I took it on the sly!

Pantry Devastation

I've been meaning to undertake a significant pantry/kitchen storage system overhaul.  I never quite loved how things were organized when we first moved into the house, but I just never came up with a better way.  Eventually, even the loose sense of order gave way to chaos.

I am currently in the midst of a major overhaul, but only because my hand was forced.  I live in an old house and it's not uncommon to see a creepy crawly now and again.  I seem to have lots of spiders and thanks to the hole Wonderpup scratched in the sliding glass door screen, flying critters will occasionally come in for a visit.

Just a day or so ago I noticed a handful of larvae of some sort on my kitchen ceiling.  Eh, something flew in, or came in on my veggies.  No big deal.  I climbed on a chair and squished the inchworm-like creatures and thought nothing of it.  I don't get overly girly about such things and I was in the middle of a major kitchen scrubdown anyway.  But they didn't go away, they multiplied.  I noticed a small moth flitting around the kitchen. I snapped out of my denial and this morning, when there were more crawlies on my ceiling than I care to admit, I hit the interwebs.

I very quickly determined that my problem is some sort of pantry moth - a grain moth or an Indian Meal Moth.  Whatever did we do before Google?  My sense of satisfaction over identifying the problem quickly evaporated as I read about how the problem materializes and how much of a pain it can be to resolve.  I was so disturbed by my findings that I left work to come home and address the issue immediately.  I now have pheromone traps set up (the horny little bastards came out of the woodwork for those!) and my kitchen smells of cinnamon and peppermint thanks to the pet safe insecticide.  Soon it will smell of Simple Green.

I am in the midst of completely emptying my pantry.  I'm heartbroken and majorly creeped out.  Currently, I'm taking a break between garbage bag numbers three and four.  Most upsetting is the loss of my King Arthur mixes, Trader Joe's cornbread and other assorted goodies.  However, after reading that these suckers can come from commercial plants, chew through thin cardboard and can leave eggs in that half used box of pasta for up to a year, it's all going.

Hey, at least now my cabinets will be nice and organized - stacked to the brim with airtight plastic containers.  Bed Bath and Beyond is going to LOVE me.

I send this as a warning to my readers.  Maybe I'm the only dumbass that didn't think too much about the box of cornmeal over the stove or the half used bag of pasta.  But just in case ... because, boy, have I learned my lesson.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Sounds I love, and the tastes they inspire

Right now the rain is gently giving my garden a drink so I don't have to.  Thanks rain.  It's also bouncing off my air conditioner when the wind is just right, pinging away to make itself heard.  Wonderpup is curled up near my bed, but for some reason on the hard floor and not in his own comfortable spot.  He's huffing away in the heat, a bit of panting, a bit of snoring, and the thunder is just far enough away to make its presence known but not near enough to disturb any of the other sounds.  It's a perfect balance.

This, right now, is the sound of summer.  It makes me miss my grandmother's back porch and the camp we used to spend time at on Lake George.  Wonderpup's huffing is the only new addition, but it's a welcome one.  I suddenly have an overwhelming desire to drink sun tea, play gin rummy and eat tomato sandwiches.  I'm also dying for strawberry shortcake.  The real stuff, with biscuits, not those spongy things you buy in the store.  Maybe it's the beers or the lingering effects of good company, but gosh the sound of the rain makes me happy... and hungry.

I'm curious, what are the summer flavors you can't live without?

Monday, June 27, 2011

Another Ohio treat

Exciting news delivered by the good folks at All Over Albany - another Ohio favorite, Graeter's Ice Cream is now available locally.  I'm not sure I care to admit how often the treat served as a meal in and of itself during my time in Columbus.  I'm trying really hard not to get in the car and drive to Latham right now.

Using the arugula

On my drive home today I was pondering what to do with the arugula I picked up yesterday at the farmers' market as I knew I was racing against time to avoid a wilted mess.  The mental inventory of my fridge and pantry was depressing, and then I realized I'd be home early enough to hit up my local Italian import store - Ragonese.  Visions of cured meat and mozzarella danced in my head and I had my answer.  I only had to resist just buying a hunk of eggplant parm and calling it a night.

Ragonese is a local gem, one which I don't frequent enough, especially considering it's right around the corner from my house.  For some reason, I had it in my head they closed at 6pm and I was pleased to see that they are indeed open until 7, affording me much more opportunity to visit.  My wallet and waistline might not be happy with this revelation, but my taste buds sure are.

I envisioned a big sandwich, and grabbed some sweet sopressata, prosciutto and mozzarella.  Unfortunately, however, they didn't have any good sandwich rolls, just Freihoffer's bread - which certainly wouldn't cut it.  I toyed with swinging by the local bakery but I had Wonderpup in the car with me and I was already feeling guilty for my very quick run into one store.

So sandwich morphed into salad, which is probably better anyway.  I mixed the already wilty arugula with some lettuce freshly picked from my garden, threw the meat and cheese on top and whipped up a quick balsamic vinaigrette.  Presto, dinner was done.  I'm not going to say it was healthy, per se, but boy was it yummy.  Maybe next time I'll even add some vegetables.

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Swiss Chard take 1

I decided I couldn't wait until tomorrow and cooked myself up a little pre-Sunday cocktails snack.  I'd poked around the internet for swiss chard ideas and pulling a little from here and a little from there, I came up with this:

A handful of chopped garlic scapes and chard torn into small pieces, sauteed in olive oil.  A few turns of the black pepper grinder, a pinch of kosher salt, squeeze of lemon, some freshly grated nutmeg and a pinch of celery salt.   Ok, it was supposed to be a pinch, but the celery salt came out a bit too fast and the result was good, but a tad too salty.  I'll probably skip the kosher salt next time until I'm closer to finished so I can better adjust.

It was a yummy little snack, not the least bit bitter and nice and balanced.

To market I go

Determined to prepare my own food again after a long few weeks completely estranged from my kitchen, I bounded off to the Schenectady Greenmarket this morning.  I'd hoped for a fairly quick trip but some ex-pass apparently had other plans as exit 24 turned into a giant parking lot.  I was in good spirits for first fifteen minutes or so, hanging out with the windows down and the radio up.  The old dude in the white chevy next to me might not have enjoyed the wait as much as I did, but I'm sorry, if you can't appreciate a little White Album on a Sunday morning, well then I just don't have much use for you.  I did start to get a little fidgety when I realized that no ex-pass lanes were open and my side of the exit had 3 available lanes to the other side's 9.  It took me a solid hour to get to the market and as a result I spent much less time actually there than it took me to get there, but that's ok.

In my quick run through the market, I grabbed all sorts of exciting bounty.  Without my CSA I haven't had any garlic scapes yet this season, so I was excited to see them still in abundance.  I picked up some chard to experiment with before I cut down my own and I was thrilled to see great big zucchini already available.  Radishes and wild arugula rounded out my shopping bag.  Not the most coherent shopping day, but that's not altogether unusual for me.
I'm not sure what I'm going to do with my bag o'veggies, I plan to brainstorm while I'm putzing around cleaning the kitchen - a critical first step before starting any cooking.  But alas, despite my grand plans, I've already made plans for the evening that will take me away from the kitchen.  It's the thought that counts, right?

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Life is short...

I went home today to see my youngest brother graduate from high school (gosh, I don't know how that's possible...) and on the way back to Albany I passed a car that had a bumper sticker which read "Life is short, play with your dog."  Truer words were never spoken.  I've missed my guy tremendously these past few weeks when I was trapped in the office and the bumper sticker made me smile even as I was yelling at Wonderpup to get back into the backseat.

While finishing the drive, I got thinking about other ways to complete that phrase - Life is short: read more, drink good wine, pick flowers, play outside.

Back at my house, the wreckage from weeks of quite literally coming home just to sleep is all around.  The house needs cleaning, my garden needs love, laundry needs to be done.  But more importantly my body and mind need a break and my puppy  needs some snuggles, so all that will have to wait.  So my exciting Saturday night plans are to settle in on the couch with a bottle of wine, my friend Cormac McCarthy, maybe some mindless tv and my Wonderpup.  I might be getting old, but it sounds just perfect.

I opened up my wine cabinet, craving red, and found the only such bottles were on the "bottom shelf" - the spot where I keep the good wine/special occasion bottles (backwards, I know).  I've been trying to dabble in learning a bit more about wine and I like to segregate the bottles I put some thought into from my standard everyday drinkables.  Mostly, I so rarely indulge in a bottle much over $15 that I want to be sure I don't grab it when I'm already a few glasses deep and can't truly enjoy it.

I lingered over the frissante white and the rose, but it's just not hot enough for either, I want red.  I lamented for a moment and then thought about the bumper sticker and my list - who says I can't drink a nicer bottle of wine by myself on a Saturday.  In fact, I absolutely should do that... so an '07 Sterling Cab it is.  I'm writing this post in an attempt to distract myself while letting it breathe.  Happy Saturday folks!

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Yay Bettie!

As the legislative session drags on beyond its scheduled end, I continue to live at the office and hope that someday I'll return to my kitchen and garden.  I'm thankful for the rain because it means I'm not out trying to water my tomatoes in the dark.  There are some bright spots in my sob story though - my employer is great about feeding us to avoid mutiny and for the most part dinner for the past two weeks has been from Cardona's.  That in and of itself is almost worth the 14+ hour days.  But today, it got even better.  Bettie and her cupcake truck came down to the Capitol in the deluge and she was handing out free cupcakes to anyone who supports marriage equality.   As no one wanted to come out of the Capitol to brave the rain, she was sending her delicious treats inside to provide a little pick me up. Love her, and loved this...

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Welcome Summer!!

What a spectacular day it was today.  The only thing that could have made it better is if I was up at the Lake spending time with my Dad, but work often interferes with celebrating Father's day on the correct weekend and as I have the world's most understanding father, next weekend it is.

I was driving along today, windows down, tunes up and heading home to make my first caprese salad of the season.  I'd been unable to stop thinking about it since noticing my basil growing like a weed, and a big red beefsteak tomato at Fresh Market put me over the edge.  The simple salad is one of my favorites and I got thinking today about how it represents achievements and goals for me.  Silly, I know, but hear me out.  I've admitted here more than once that I struggle against a black thumb.  I've come a long way though - having decent success with (some) herbs for a couple of years now and managed to pull off tomatoes last year. (Two years ago with the tomatoes was totally not my fault...everyone had trouble!)  I'm not a master gardener, nor do I aspire to be, but I get a lot of joy out of creating some fresh ingredients in my own yard. Recently, I've been thinking about cheesemaking.  I think about it in the same way I think about canning, a good idea in theory but I'm convinced I'll somehow kill myself or others.  But still, in all my spare time, I think it would be cool to try making cheese.  Someday.

So in the flash of inspiration that always comes with a windows down drive on a beautiful day, I thought how cool it would be to someday make my favorite simple little dish with ingredients that I grew or made myself.  To do so, I'll have to keep plugging away at the progress I've made with an eye toward a more lofty goal in the future.  I like the idea, both with respect to dinner and in general.

As I pondered caprese salad as a metaphor, my iPod, sensing my mood as always, flipped to this fantastic tune by the Decemberists, pointing out very clearly that summer is here and after a long, hard winter, that can't be bad.

Who needs the gym...

The torture implement and a
little inspiration
...when you have a beautiful day, a ton of yardwork and a reel mower?  Phew, maybe it's the quick beer in the evening that turned into multiple and a later night than planned (what can I say, I'm a sucker for a nice summer night and outside drinking), but I need a break.  I'm trying to crank out some work on my very neglected yard and garden, but I'm getting more of a workout than I'd planned. Pushing the reel mower along the hill in my front yard is a great little exercise.  The backyard was another story.  My giant tree sheds sticks all the time, so before mowing I had to take care of the presents Wonderpup left  me and rake up all the sticks.  Then I mowed.  I did not heed a dear reader's warning and the grass was looooong.  So then I raked again to pick up all the clippings.  I actually should mow again, but I decided to come inside, put my feet up and write a post instead.

I have some motivation to get my backyard in a bit better shape.  I'd really love to sit out there with a cold beer and a little blaze in the firepit I finally put together.  It would be extra nice to have company join me and have the yard look respectable.  Not good, mind you, I'm just going for respectable this season - one step at a time!

Saturday, June 18, 2011

No worse for the wear

I had to count on mother nature to tend to my garden this week, as my work schedule barely allowed me to take care of myself let alone any other living thing.  Thank goodness for an army of help to keep Wonderpup entertained.  Upon inspection this morning, I was happy to see that things are plugging along but for my disappearing swiss chard.  The case of the disappearing chard has been building for a couple of weeks.  I planted five or six plants, which were slowly and meticulously raided by some OCD rodent.  The pillage was not haphazard in the least, but a calculated move from one plant to the next, sparing only my one remaining plant.  Nothing else has been touched - lettuce is fine, other veggies are fine, I swear the critter is just trying to mess with my head.  Other than that, things seem to be going alright it's already time to harvest some basil to keep the plants cranking and it's too early to say if I've killed my tomatoes or not yet!

the surviving chard

Just waiting for the tomatoes

Tuesday, June 14, 2011


I’ve been on this kick lately of stopping at the grocery store on my way to work to pick up a supply of breakfast and lunch items. I’m one of those people who can’t eat first thing, and as I don’t take an hour to get ready for work, I’m rarely in the house long enough in the morning for breakfast. Stopping on my way to work and stocking up the fridge there seems to be working better for me than remembering to open my own fridge and bringing something in. It’s sad, but true.

I haven’t yet decided if these whirlwind shopping trips save me money or help me eat less junk. I’d like to think yes on both counts, I’m certainly walking down to the coffee shop for food and caffeine less. The other day, though, I had this overwhelming craving for Eggos. Blueberry eggos to be exact, and I’ve been enjoying them for breakfast for about a week. The nostalgia they incite is odd, I remember not particularly liking them as a kid (now, Aunt Jemima French toast, that’s another story … I don’t think I’ve even THOUGHT about that stuff for 20 years, and while writing this I just had a major flashback… anyway). I tried to eat the grown un, healthy waffles, I really did, but they just don’t cut it. I’m sure I’ll finish the box and not touch them again for years, but I am enjoying eating breakfast like a 12-year-old for the moment.

More in the vein of what I normally like to eat, I was slicing up a mango this morning to snack on later and suddenly could almost feel myself back in Costa Rica. I guess that’s not really all that surprising, it’s grey and rainy here, I’m chained to my desk and behind on housework – of course a tropical escape would be a nice thought. I was lucky enough to spend about a month in Costa Rica almost – gasp – fifteen years ago and gosh do I miss the food, especially the fruit. It took me years to be able to eat a banana here again after picking them straight from the tree and understanding what they’re really supposed to taste like. Sunshine, warm beaches, fresh tropical fruit … good thoughts to get one through a day like today. I think I will focus on this food nostalgia instead of Eggos.

Monday, June 13, 2011

I really shouldn't be lamenting my lack of CSA this season as much as I am considering the fact that I can't even remotely keep up with my minimal farmers' market purchases.  Case in point, I learned this week that neglected leeks have a mind of their own:

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Today I got something back that I'd really believed was just out of my life forever.  I had my first successful run in well over three years.  During that time, I've been struggling with a back injury that has at various times left me frustrated, depressed and pissed off.  Chronic pain will do that I suppose, but I've been working very hard at learning to live with bum discs by adjusting my lifestyle and practicing pilates religiously.  I've gone from hurting every day to discomfort to actually feeling pretty strong and while not completely back to where I was pre-injury, in a much better place.

I've been told that my running days are over, but I have dabbled with it lately and it just hasn't clicked.  I feel a tweak or twinge in my lower back and I have to stop.  I was starting to think the naysayers were right.  But today, out of the blue at the gym, I started and just didn't stop.  I got past the wall, which came embarrassingly early, and just kept running.  I might be the only person in the world who would use an acoustic version of Moon River to push through, but it was Josh Ritter, a guitar and one of my favorite songs - I think that could get me through the Blitz.  Before I knew it, 20 plus minutes and a couple of miles were gone and I was rocking one serious runner's high.  I really, really missed that feeling.

It got me thinking about working hard at something.  I've spent three years relearning how to stand, correcting my awful posture, strengthening the muscles I need to stay out of pain and all of a sudden it just came together.  A little patience and a lot of perseverance, I guess.

To celebrate, I made myself guacamole.  A metaphor for patience ... I COULD eat it now, but it will taste so much better in a few hours.  For this batch I used, in addition to the avocado of course, garlic, lemon, red onion, cilantro and a nice dose of this ground California chile that I picked up in, well,  California.

With respect to perseverance, I got thinking about that too.  I've been in a culinary rut for ages.  I have little flashes of experimentation, but lately I'm barely cooking let alone cooking anything new, which is silly.  When I first lived by myself back in college, I learned a ton about cooking by just trying it.  That was when I really started to love it.  If I royally screwed something up, it was no problem because no one knew and I just tried again.  You don't learn anything if you don't screw up a bit along the way, and success without a few bumps in the road certainly isn't as sweet.

It won't happen this week because I'll be living at the office, but I think it's time to get back to pushing through some experiments.  Who knows when I'll have another breakthrough like today!

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

The holy trinities

It's said good things come in threes.  There are many such trinities worth worship.  Gin, tonic, lime.  Bacon, lettuce, tomato.  Three snuggling boxers.   Tomato, basil, mozzarella.  Wine, cheese, wine.  I could go on all night.

I'll be honest, I had a real shit day today.  I won't get into details, but suffice it to say there was venom running through my veins all day.  A nice lunch out with a good friend helped take the edge off, but still, I was just not fit for consumption for most of the day.

I had a scheduled workout class, and the stretching and torture that comes with pilates did help to take my edge off a bit.  My luck started turning around though when I got to my car.

Apparently I'd gotten out of the car with the new 90s and more station on (Love you, Crush 105.7) and when I turned the key Sinead O'Connor was signing her heart out.  Nothing like belting out an early 90s classic heartbreak tune at the top of your lungs in the privacy of your car (that last part is CRITICAL for me) to lift your spirits.  So sing along with my crazy Irish sister I did.  Then I glanced at my phone and noticed a waiting text message.  It was from an old, dear friend telling me he was in town for a wedding.  Said friend just happens to hail from the Emerald Isle as well, so score two for the Irish.  It's been far too long since I've seen my friend and his note quite literally made my week.  Facing hunger, an empty fridge and a powerful thirst, I headed to the bar for a quick bite. (Sorry wilting beet greens, I just couldn't cook you tonight...)  I ordered myself a McSorley's to round out my Irish trifecta and with the first sip I felt the last of my venom float away.  Good songs, good friends and good beer, all with an Irish twist ... perfect.

To fight off the hunger I went for another trinity and ordered myself a BLT.  A quick run through the summer rain and home to my pup to rescue him from the thunder and my night was complete, and better than it started.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

mmmm, pie!

Sometimes, it’s the simple pleasures that are the best. I love pie for breakfast. I mean, I love pie any time and would often choose it over cake any day of the week, but there is something spectacular about pie for breakfast. I’m sure I’ve confessed to this here before. Typically, pie for breakfast is a holiday thing – I’ll have it for a day or two after Thanksgiving or Christmas when my Mom bakes enough pies to sink an army. Trust me, with my stepfather and two teenaged brothers measuring in at 6’4” and 6’7’ I’m not employing a lot of hyperbole here. You can imagine how much pie she has to make for there to be leftovers.

I went to the Troy Farmer’s Market on Saturday with an old friend and as we wandered by the pie vendor, I paused. They had small pies for sale and a rhubarb one jumped out at me. But I wanted STRAWBERRY rhubarb and of course they only had it in the normal pie size. As I pondered the purchase, the sweet gentleman behind the counter explained to me that I could cut off a chunk and freeze it. It was then that I realized, who am I kidding? I can eat a whole pie. That’s not to say that I should eat a whole pie, but lord knows I can. Metabolism don’t fail me now.

So pie for breakfast it is, a few days running now. It’s great, I pack up a slice in foil and march off to work. You know, like old Welsh miners did back in the day, but a 21st century, kinda yuppie version. I don’t feel the least bit guilty and it’s not like this is an everyday occurrence. I just really wanted a strawberry rhubarb pie, it’s late spring and you’ve got to get while the gettin’ is good. No, I didn’t make it myself and I’m ok with that. Full confession here – I can make a mean crumble top, but I can’t tell you the last time I made my own crust. It’s something I’d like to work on, but now is not the time.

Sunday, June 5, 2011

The Collins Clan

Hello lover...
At a lovely backyard evening with the girls, complete with fantastic food, I tried something for the first time that could get me in lots of trouble.  I had my first vodka collins.  A pint-sized vodka collins.

Now, I typically prefer gin to vodka, but I'm not one to turn my nose up at a refreshing beverage lovingly prepared by a dear friend that is complete with fresh-squeezed lemon.  Here is why I think I'm completely screwed - 1. I prefer gin to vodka, 2. I just had a fantastic vodka drink, and 3. It's standard to make said drink with gin.

I don't intend to abandon my summertime staple, Saphire and Tonic, or the close second, Hendricks and Lemonade, and we know how I'm looking forward to homemade blueberry vodka, but something tells me I've just made a good new friend named Tom.

What other summertime beverages belong on the list?

Fingers crossed...

I got a ton of work done in the yard this weekend.  Of course there is still a ton to do.  I've learned that I really like cutting shit down.  I've had some serious bonding time with my limb clippers and god do I enjoy the satisfaction that comes with excising dead, overgrown, or superfluous vegetation.  It might be a bit of a metaphor, but it's fun and surprisingly good stress relief.

But more exciting - I got a bunch of plants in the garden.  I'm pretty thrilled about my bed this year.  It's loaded with tomatoes and I added some space by using pots and an old milk box (or something) which made a great home for basil and cilantro.  In my effort to scare away critters, I potted a bunch of marigolds around the raised bed.  I don't love marigolds and the flat I bought was certainly too many, but they do stink and with any luck it will help protect the rest of my swiss chard.  I've already lost two plants.  I wisely kept my mint to pots to try to avoid complete invasion.  I'm growing kentucky mint, which somehow I think will go GREAT with bourbon and black peppermint which I'm hoping to try for tea.

I don't have a lot of space in the yard that gets enough sun to grow veggies, so I'm learning to be creative and maximize it the best I can.  I snuck in a second small raised bed that is housing cukes and jalapenos.  I even stuck squash in what will someday be a perennial garden.

So far, so good I think.

A wee bit much

There are some combinations of words in the English language you will not often hear me utter.  Examples include "Coors light, please" "The lovely state of Michigan" and "well done."

And, high on that list, "Too much cheese."

This evening, however, we needed those words.  A fine local establishment serves homemade mozzarella "logs."  Somehow in transit from one hops purveyor to another, we'd gotten chatting about mozzarella sticks so it was natural that we'd place an order upon arrival.  Homemade sounds good.  We were four women.  The order was five, maybe six logs (which, by the way, is not the most appetizing word).  We could not finish the cheese.  It was just that giant and that heavy.  Yes, we had a belly full of beer, but even the drivers among us couldn't conquer the cheese.

You know what you can never have too much of though?  Sweet, snuggly Boxers.  If you need a smile, do yourself a favor and take a peek at this week's Friday Puppy and scroll to the last picture. (heck, look every week, you can't go wrong with cute pup pics)  I don't even need to suggest that folks vote for the boxers because I know you guys have taste.  I'll stick with my one guy who is cuddled up next to me as I write, but this picture made my week.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

This recipie arrived in my inbox today.  Mmmmmmm.  I so wish I hadn't burned my rhubarb.   You know, with all that baking I've been doing lately.  I suppose I'll just have to visit the farmer's market this weekend, and liquor store to find an appropriate bitter base, and try all my ideas before the season passes.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Spicy Soba

I came home from work and working out absolutely dying of hunger.  I guess rabbit food all day will do that to ya.  No food in the house and no energy or patience for something out of the house, so I went for a quick meal of soba noodles.  I know I've discussed this here before - this is a flavor mosaic that I am still trying to learn.  I'd picked up wasabi powder at Penzey's when I was out in Columbus recently so I made a quick sauce with soy sauce, a touch of toasted sesame oil, a healthy dose of wasabi, a dollop of ginger paste and a few drops of lime.  Meh.  I think I don't like the ginger paste, but I'll keep trying to hit the right combo.

It served its purpose though - I settled in to inhale carbohydrates, in the form of noodles and a cold beer, to enjoy my newest netflix obsession SportsNight. (Thanks H!)  I mean, really, Aaron Sorkin and Peter Krause? Plus the guy from Dead Poets Society? My not so inner geek is elated.

I didn't bother taking a picture of dinner... it's brown soba noodles tossed in a brown sauce.  I didn't even take the time to chop up carrots, or anything else.  See how I pretended I had veggies in the house?  Really, the meal was like the food snob's version of spaghetti and butter.

Exhaustion Diet

Knowing I was facing a tough day thanks to a monumental lack of sleep (note the mid-day break from attemped productivity to clear the decks and start over), I swung by the grocery store on my way into work this morning for some good, healthy, energy-boosting snacks. I knew that living off the monthly birthday cake upstairs and whatever greasy grub I really wanted from the park vendors would not help my cause. Plus, I'm trying to get back on track and start bringing healthy meals to work anyway.

I've spent the day munching on greek yogurt, nuts, berries, a big 'ole plate of lettuce and a healthy dose of pepper jack cheese. Although I've walked by the giant tray of sugar known as the store-bought birthday cake about six times, I've resisted, choosing instead to get my sweet fix from blueberries. The plan seems to be working so far - despite the quick mental respite I'm taking now, I'm holding my own suprisingly well, considering.

As I am facing a few more weeks of exhasuting days, even without the insomnia, I found myself wondering what other vittles might pack a good energy punch and stave off the 3pm crash. Who better to ask than my well informed readership.... ideas anyone?
This post is brought to you by a healthy dose of insomnia. I wish I could say that I was just so excited that it's June that I simply couldn't wait to write my first entry of the month, but that would be disingenuous.

I got through this Memorial Day weekend without cooking one single thing. I didn't flip a burger. I didn't whip up a salad. It's actually pretty sad for someone who loves to cook, but it was just not meant to be. I snuck away to the lake for the start of the weekend and as it was my first trip up I just was not prepared to, um, prepare anything. This is not to say that I did not eat well. My father is still working on that deer so we had a very North Country spread for dinner one night. Wonder pup is typically not permitted to eat people food - except for
cheese and peanut butter, of course - but as his kibble is venison-based and it was a holiday, he was spoiled.

The next day I was attending a picnic at my neighbor and fellow foodie's place, an event that would typically inspire me to come up with something creative and fantastic, but camp constraints were still in place and the fruits of someone's else's labor (read, locally-made blueberry pie) would have to suffice. I did very much enjoy everyone else's culinary talents though, from the cheesecake martini (which should be a new memorial day tradition, I think) to the mac and cheese and smoked brisket. It's good to have friends who like food.

Monday's impromptu pool party called for a quick chips and dip grab. And this...because I couldn't help myself. I did not partake, but I contributed:

The yummy jar of black bean dip I picked up did inspire me though, and I sense a post about my first attempt to make it myself in the near future.

Peppered in with the food-based events for which I did not cook were a few outings with dear friends. All in all it was a lovely weekend full of friends and family and it actually got me thinking quite a lot about family. There is the family we are given and the family we get to choose. You know the latter, those folks who know all sorts of sides of you and love you anyway. The people with whom you can talk about ten years ago and those who you know for certain you'll be doing that with in ten years. I'm so thankful to be surrounded by many such people from different phases of my life.

And, lest I get too sentimental in the wee hours ... Wonder pup met some new family this weekend, cousin Percy the baby Maine Coon. Many of you know my feelings on cats in general, but it is hard for even me to resist a teeny tiny kitten, especially one as cute as Percy. I'm not sure how thankful the little furball was to meet his newest
canine buddy, but he's just going to have to deal, they're family whether they like it or not!!