Jan 25, 2008

wow food. so much yumminess in my kitchen lately.

1. braised whole chicken with rosemary, pears, and vermouth. holy cow it was so juicy and tender and delicious. from all about braising, a cookbook i bought for myself over the holidays. i tried to follow the recipe verbatim, which i rarely do, and it was well worth it.

2. bucatini with chicken, artichoke hearts and caramelized onions. using up some of the shredded rosemary pear chicken, and the yummy pear/vermouth sauce that came with it. i added a tiny bit of tomato sauce to thicken, and it was simply divine.

3. turkey meatloaf. sounds boring, but dinner last night was one of the best things i've made in a very very long time. the recipe:

- 1/2 onion, diced
- 1/2 large red bell pepper, diced (or 1 small)
- 2 cloves garlic, chopped
- 4 cups ground turkey (or chicken)
- 1/2 cup ricotta cheese (i used low fat)
- 1 egg, beaten
- 1/4 cup bread crumbs
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 1 tbsp truffle oil
- 1 sprig rosemary, chopped finely
- salt and pepper to taste

preheat oven to 375. saute onion, bell pepper and garlic in about 1 tbsp olive oil over medium to low heat until soft. meanwhile, mix together all other ingredients. add onion pepper mixture. form into a loaf and set atop some firm bread pieces to sop up the juices as they run off. (i used mini bagels that were stale and ready for the garbage anyway.) no ketchup, no chili sauce. just yum. oh my god so good. i served it with baked potatoes which i rubbed with a little olive oil, salt, pepper and a tiny bit of the truffle oil, and some simple steamed broccoli with lemon. perfect. and pretty! the red pepper in the soft pale meatloaf is so festive.

we just happen to have two different bottles of truffle oil we received as gifts from wonderful wonderful friends. i have been trying to come up with sneaky ways to use them without overpowering dishes, and this turned out heavenly. if you don't have truffle oil, don't fret. you could use any flavored oil (basil, garlic, chili) or run out to your nearby gourmet store, plop down the credit card and purchase the most deliciously indulgent condiment you'll ever buy. and it will be worth every penny.

Jan 24, 2008

today i am:

1. happy about my new amy ruppel purchase!
2. wishing i had bought two.
3. so so cold i wish i wore long johns.
4. anticipating jamie oliver's guinness + steak + cheese pie i was going to make last night but instead will be making this weekend.
5. still reeling from my bra fitting at intimacy.
6. really full from too much bread and soup at lunch.
7. excited about an upcoming post about my work on the apartment therapy nursery blog!
8. needing a change, something different.
9. thinking i should maybe leave the credit card in the wallet for a while.
10. considering becoming a nanny.

Jan 21, 2008

so, last night i had the privilege of eating dinner at custom house, participating in a unibroue beer and food pairing. on the menu: mussels, lamb, rabbit, duck, venison, sweetbreads, and 6 other delectable delicacies paired with 6 yummy inspiring unibroue beers. it was a fantastic sunday evening meal, though i think hubb and i both reached a meat threshold by the end of it.

today is supposedly the most depressing day of the year. and, surprisingly enough, i'm actually having a pretty good day so far. woke up late, but made it to work on time, feeling sort of cute in my outfit today, and already getting response to my new etsy items. also, although i rarely stop by starbucks on the way into work, i did today, treating myself to a caramel latte. after the first of our monday morning meetings, hubb walks in with a vanilla latte for me as well. so i'm double fisting the caffeine today, which is probably part of the cause for my uplifted mood, come to think of it.

i'm trying to waste time and distract myself from eating the second half of my sandwich for lunch today....after 12 courses last night, following a few months of overeating, i'm trying to make my stomach a little more normal sized by limiting portions. tough for a girl who loves food. i'm learning a few tricks, though, and hopefully i'll learn enough self restraint to change my habits. wish me luck.

perhaps i just need more coffee.
hi there! i've just finished some new audubon collage paintings. check them out on my arts and crafts blog and my etsy shop.


Jan 15, 2008

i’ve been on a sort of blah icky moody lately…not quite sure why or how it came about, but it’s here and i can’t seem to kick it. i don’t want to be around people during the day. i don’t want to go to work, or to meetings or even volunteer…i want to be at home. always. under a blanket, sipping tea (or a sidecar). i want to paint and cut and paste and learn to knit and cook complicated extended prep dinners every night. no more of this 9-5 business (or 8-6). i want to pet my cats and take naps and long walks at 11 am and use my camera a lot. and go to the grocery store when nobody else is there. and explore this city that i love so much. i want to be alone. i’ve been thinking of ways to make this happen and have come up with three options:

  1. quit my job, never buy anymore clothes, shoes, fancy toiletries, or interesting imported wine, beer, or spices ever again.
  2. move to rural michigan. become a dog walker.
  3. hope hubb someday gets paid twice as much as he does now, stay home and raise a baby.

seeing as these aren’t really options right now, it looks like i’m stuck with my current routine for a while longer. i’ll likely get out of this rut once winter starts to fade (which by the look of the weather forecast today isn’t going to happen anytime real soon). until then i’m trying to find ways to intermittently cheer myself up that don’t include drinking or eating too much. it’s hard. really really hard.

one of my cheer ups includes shopping, which really should be put on hold. i have also been going through a reorganizing kick, redoing my petite walk in closet, which has succeeded in cheering me up immensely. i got rid of three huge bags of incorrectly sized bras, out of style shoes, and ill fitting and a little too worn clothing, and in the process discovered some old favorites that have made their way back into my rotation. like the vintage inspired grey boat neck angora sweater i’m wearing today. (i would never buy angora now, but having purchased this sweater nearly 5 years ago makes it ok to continue to wear).

i've also been taking a break from cooking recently, being much much busier than i expected i would be this month. but i think i get to cook dinner either friday or sunday, which will mean comfort food galore. i’m antsy to roast a chicken and make some gravy and mashed potatoes. or braise something. or make some pasta. and marinara sauce from scratch. oh i wish i could just stay home the rest of the week and cook.

Jan 9, 2008

2008. it's off to a good start, i think. and already broken resolutions (i ate a huge cheeseburger for lunch today, had a beer last night, and have been totally slacking on my artwork.) but there is a lot to look forward to this year, which i'm noticing as i'm consolidating calendars and spreadsheets for the new year.

2008 is the year of travel. we're going somewhere almost every month starting in march. virginia for my step-mother's 60th birthday, virginia again for my little brother's college graduation (i can't believe he's about to be a grown up in the real world and all that. he's still 12 to me sometimes), boston to visit a very very good friend, new york city to visit my brother-in-law, montreal (maybe) for a little weekend getaway to celebrate our 5 year wedding anniversary, turkey (yay!) for a long overdue weeklong vacation and to see my best friend get married...again, and finally los angeles (maybe) for my uncle's 50th birthday + a family reunion. in between maybe we'll fit in a cabin weekend in michigan or a night in milwaukee, too. maybe. we'll see how our already depleted travel budget treats us.

2008 is the year of friends. more babies (only 3 due in 2008...so far), more weddings, and a couple we met on our honeymoon 5 years ago are moving up from texas this spring. and definitely more babysitting and being amazed at how fast the 2007 babies are growing. i am already in awe at the fact that i knew these women...some of them before they met/married their mates, and then they were pregnant, and now there's a little person with their lips and their husbands' eyes, and they've grown strong enough to sit up on their own and smile at you and use their hands, and soon they'll be talking and walking, and actually recognizing me when i hold them. i don't want them to grow up.

2008 is the year to get organized. i'm a pretty anal person, i love organizing the kitchen cabinets, balancing the checkbook, tidying the counters, but there are parts of me and my home that are disheveled and need attention. we need to purge closets and filing cabinets, and i'm starting this week with my small walk in closet in our bedroom. new shelves, drawers and hooks and i should have a closet that a) you can actually walk in to, and b) can actually find clothing/shoes in without looking under piles of crap on the floor. february will be office month, tackling the closets in there as well as our filing cabinet. purge purge purge!

2008 is the year for a lot more, but i'll just let it happen as it happens. now it's time to stop thinking about the future and start doing it and living it.

Jan 7, 2008

so i'm jumping back into cooking head on, trying new things, experimenting. i tried my hand at candy making for the holidays, which turned out pretty well, i think. maple almond brittle graced the holiday tables of a few of our friends and much of our family, and i am pleased to say that i will definitely pick up the recipe again and again. it may become my holiday staple.

i'm also venturing deeper and deeper into the realm of baking, making this pecan fig bourbon cake from this month's Gourmet magazine for a dinner party over the weekend. holy cow. i halved the recipe and edited the icing to just a simple powdered sugar/bourbon icing (no cream), but otherwise i followed the recipe to the letter, and it turned out wonderfully! it didn't collapse, it didn't turn into a brick, it didn't taste like raw flour...it tasted heavenly! definitely one for the repeat recipe file, i say.

tonight i'm venturing into the land of paella. i got a paella pan for christmas with a really great recipe book and tonight i'm testing a classic seafood paella on some unsuspecting friends. actually, they totally suspect since i ran the ok-to-eat-shellfish question by them before planning the meal. i'll try to remember to take photos if it's pretty, which i feel like it just might be.

2008 has so far been relatively healthy (minus the bourbon cake and two beef dinners in a row.) i'm not drinking on weekdays, which was a big change for me as i do enjoy a glass of wine with dinner nearly every evening. i have taken one long walk, practiced one pseudo yoga session, and am drinking more water and less carbonated beverages and caffeine. my weight hasn't come down in the past week, but it's been less fluctuating, holding at a steady number each morning, which is nice.

the next few weeks are full of business: closet reorganization, thank you notes, tidying, volunteering, cooking, haircuts, babysitting, baby showers, parties. and a little less booze and a lot more health. and paella.

Jan 4, 2008

to do this weekend, in order of most probable:
  1. make a few more paintings for my etsy site.
  2. make caramelized onions for pizza party saturday night.
  3. cook something time consuming, warm and comforting.
  4. write thank you notes for christmas gifts.
  5. take some photos.
  6. take a long walk. (possibly in conjunction with #5)
  7. read.
  8. finalize new website.
  9. with hubb, write up travel budget for 2008.
  10. clean out closet.
as i traditionally tend to do, i purchased myself a few things this holiday season while shopping for friends and family (for the gifts i didn't make, that is.) i thought i'd share a few of the highlights:
  1. warioware touched, a new game for our nintendo ds. (just came today and can't wait to play it.)
  2. all about braising: the art of uncomplicated cooking. (not here yet, but can't wait to start making the recipes.)
  3. a custom girls best friend wallet from jennalou. this girl is amazing. and the wallet is wonderful and beautiful and perfect. i got a smaller one for my mom, and plan to have another one made for my mother in law's birthday.
  4. a simply vera wang dress from kohls. i was thrilled that they actually had size small in virginia stores, but after getting home i'm not exactly sure how i feel about it. the flowy wide cut garments seem to look better on tall thin ladies, not short and stout framed me.