Monday, November 12, 2018

Mid-November










This morning's sunrise was spectacular. It has been cold, windy and clear here the last few days, with each day making me think 'I should have brought my sunglasses today' which is unusual for this season for us. Normally we have moved into full time rain by now. I'm enjoying the sun and cold, especially with the wood stove to warm up by.

I impulse bought that cute pumpkin pie banner today. It's my husband's favorite dessert, and really I always want to celebrate baking! This year I'll be making a pumpkin pie for us, plus the best green bean casserole from Smitten Kitchen and (probably) the Glazed and Flakey Apple Tart and Fall Spritz from the latest issue of Bon App├ętit to share with family on Thanksgiving. It's funny, I'm not an apple fan, unless it's an apple pie or tart. This tart looks so delicious. Almonds! Puff Pastry! The Fall Spritz also has apple in it, but it is a dry cider which works for me. Plus the Amaro makes it really bitter, which I like.

I also impulse bought that Norwegian-inspired table runner today. Halloween ends and suddenly it feels like the holiday pressure is on. Plus, I've got a boy turning six in a month who will need a birthday party! I'm hoping this table runner will guide me through this season with an eye toward simplicity and harmony.

I've spent the last few months planning my kids' school Book Fair for this year, and it starts tomorrow! I've switched the company we usually partner with and have chosen a local book store instead, complete with students doing a poetry reading one evening. Fingers crossed that it all goes well! I'll be happy to have it off my plate because in two weeks another mom and I are heading up the costume committee for the third, fourth and fifth grade school play about The Underground Railroad. Time to dust off my sewing machine...

Monday, October 22, 2018

Almost Sweater Weather













October is the best. Crisp leaves, wool sweaters in the morning and t-shirts in the afternoon, Japanese Anemones and Chinese Lanterns, a visit to the pumpkin patch, soup and turning on the oven after months of outdoor grilling.

If you had stopped by this summer you most likely would have found Lemon-Pepper Chicken on the grill. It was the recipe of the summer for us. Vincent even made for his coworkers on a work retreat. It's that good. Now that indoor cooking is back I'm switching to my other favorite recent discovery from Bon Appetit, Lemon Chicken Thighs. I made them last night and everyone ate it. I cannot stress how amazing that is. I altered the recipe a bit, stopping after the thighs were finished in the oven. I didn't bother with the lemon vinaigrette because I'm the only person here who cares for it. Instead I drizzled a bit of honey over the plate of crispy thighs. Not enough to make them really sticky, just a little sweet. So really, these are just crispy chicken thighs, no lemon at all. Of course I don't have photos of either of these chicken meals. I used to snap photos of my dinner in the living room near the window right before sitting down to eat it. It's, of course, too dark at dinner time now for that. Even worse, one night I demonstrated to my kids why we don't bring food into the living room as I accidentally tipped my entire bowl of pasta into a large basket full of magnatiles. Such a mess.

I pre-ordered and received Let's Stay In, a fantastic new cookbook a week or so ago. The author wrote Date Night In, one of my all-time favorites. I've already made Chanterelle Corn Chowder with Bacon (and ate it for lunch all last week) and Salted Chocolate Chip Cookie Bars from the book. Both are so good. I had to freeze the second half of the bars because they were just too tempted sitting there on the counter every afternoon...

I ordered that cute sweater pin and card in an attempt to bring my knitting needles out of their slumber. It worked! I've been working on a sweater for Gianna forever. I posted about it last March and promptly set it aside. Last week I wove in all the ends. Now I need to stitch the underarms closed and block it. I had her try it on and she was so delighted, which made me even more delighted.

Friday, March 9, 2018

Sick Days + Links








Dean is home sick with strep throat this week. I've had to cancel appointments and meetings, leaving me free to do legos with him and make soup that he refuses to eat. Fingers crossed that his appetite returns soon. I have finished knitting the never-ending sweater! I still need to kitchener stitch the underarms, weave in all the loose ends, and block it. The knitting portion may be finished, but the work isn't. Spring is giving us a lot of hints outside. My rhubarb is coming up, no sign of the asparagus yet though.

Making me happy this week:

-the podcast series' Making Oprah and Making Obama

-this interview with Alex Delaney who has one of my favorite Instagram accounts

-the podcast Pantsuit Politics  - I've really been enjoying their nuanced point of view

-looking forward to Gaby's new cookbook. Her chicken parm meatballs recipe is incredible!

-this recipe for mug cake. It's so easy it's dangerous.


Lastly, a shoutout to the advice nurse at our doctor's office yesterday who, after telling me to bring Dean in if his symptoms didn't improve in a couple of days and hanging up the phone, changed her mind and got him an appointment to be seen within the hour. I'm so glad she trusted her instincts!

Wednesday, March 7, 2018

Change







In my kitchen over the last week or two: Creamy Braised Chicken for tacos (so easy!), Cinnamon Glazed Popcorn, and No Knead Bread, plus many other things I didn't snap photos of, like Skillet Mac and Cheese with ham and peas, blueberry muffins, omelettes, teriyaki chicken...

Josephine, the company that I run my cooking business through, announced that they are closing the business, which means my business is also closing. I'd have to do all of my cooking at a commercial kitchen if I wanted to continue making dinners for people, which is more of an investment than I am wanting to make right now. Once Dean is settled in kindergarten in the fall I might look into doing a little baking business, but that's months away. 

A friend and I have been in the process of starting up a Girl Scout troop at Gianna's school. I originally volunteered to be a troop leader because I had just found out Josephine was closing so I had some free time. I had no idea what I was really getting myself into. After the first training session (where you're told that you're going to be molding future leaders) my co-troop leader looked at me and said, "I don't know if I'm qualified to do this. I'm just a lawyer." Wish us luck at our first official meeting later this month!

Saturday, February 24, 2018

Cozy












We woke up to more snow on wednesday and cancelled school. It was enough snow to cause traffic problems, do a little bit of sledding in, and make everything beautiful for a few hours. Aside from a few patches it has all melted and I am just fine with that. 

I'm part of a group of women that gets together once a month to check in about goals we've made - an accountability group - and I like to bring something yummy to share. We met last weekend and I wanted to make a cherry amaretti galette. They're really easy to make and delicious. I got a tetanus shot the day before and my shoulder HURT SO MUCH! I owe my kids some sympathy for all the shots that they've gotten that I've not been very empathic about. Whoops... So I bought pre made pie dough because rolling out dough was not going to improve my situation. I brought the galette to the meeting and was so disappointed with the crust. It was thin and tough, not flaky at all. The package came with two crusts, so I decided to use the second one on the top of a pot pie. I was already going to roast a chicken and what a great way to use up the leftovers, right? 

The pot pie I made was everything I've ever wanted a pot pie to be. I don't have a good track record with pot pies. The first time I made them I cooked one for dinner and froze the second. I remember it being tasty but a bit soupy. I was pregnant with our first child and trying to stock the freezer for her impending arrival. Well, have you ever heard that you aren't supposed to freeze things with certain types of dairy in them? I hadn't and the pot pie I had thawed really taught me that lesson. The sauce had separated resulting in a chunky/liquidy situation and well, we had something different for dinner that night, probably take out burritos. I've been shy about pot pies ever since. I made a skillet pot pie a few months ago where the filling consisted of shredded chicken and peas tossed with creme fraiche. It was good but the creme fraiche melted away during baking leaving moist, flavorful chicken and peas, but no sauce. I love sauce. I'm one of those people who sometimes eat french fries just so I can justify eating ketchup, same with baguettes and butte, and anything and mayo. I love mayo. A lot. So I turned to the internet and found a very simple recipe that called for cubes of cooked chicken, some veggies, a roux and store bought pie dough. The filling for the pot pie was so good that I just couldn't disgrace it by putting that terrible dough on it. Since my sore shoulder had healed I made the dough from the creme fraiche recipe because that dough is really good. My picky children wouldn't try the pot pie at all, despite having liked it in the past. Vincent and I had half tuesday night and ate the other half for lunch the next day. It was exactly what I wanted to eat on a snowy day. I'm still not sure what I'm going to do with that extra store bought crust. Maybe cut out shapes with cookie cutters, sprinkle with sugar and turn them in to cookies? The big takeaway lesson is to always keep a batch of homemade pie dough in the freezer. 

To balance out the decadent pot pie (it had two sticks of butter in it), I made this Winter Spa Salad. It was so good that I fought back the urge to make myself a second bowl of it after finishing the first bowl for lunch, made my mom a bowl of it for her lunch and made myself a tiny version of it 4 hours later when my brain was getting fuzzy but it wasn't yet dinner time. I'm already looking forward to lunch tomorrow when I can make another one!


Tuesday, February 20, 2018

Snow Day! + Catch Up













Hello! Here I am, checking in after a few months' absence. Life gets busy and sometimes that's just how it goes.

Lately the refrain around Portland was how this had been such a mild winter, with only one snow sprinkling on Christmas Eve. In late January and earlier this month we had our annual February Fake-out where Spring teased us with a visit. It was glorious. Then we had a little snow a couple of days ago. This morning it started snowing as the kids were getting ready for school. We got one kid all the way to school, only to decide the conditions were getting worse, pull her out of class and take her back home. Lots of playing in the snow and screen time today.

Did any of you watch the Olympic Ice Dancing last night? It was AMAZING! Gianna kept asking me if I wished the winning Canadian pair were Americans. I don't care where they are from, they were the best and fully deserved gold. This is the first year we have watched the Olympics with the kids. We aren't sports watchers and I think this is the first time they've watched televised sports. Their minds have been blown by the skaters, skiers, bobsledders, snowboarders, everyone! Its been really fun to watch them discover it all.

My favorite parts of the day, so far (it's only 5pm), have been watching the snow fall, researching restaurants for an upcoming trip, and counting five visits to our feeder from the male Downy Woodpecker. It always feels special when he or his lady pay us a visit. They never visit together or even on the same day. Maybe she's not his lady?

I've got a Chicken Mushroom Pea Carrot Skillet Pie in the oven right now. It's snowing. Time to light the wood stove and make a gin-based cocktail. Happy Tuesday, Friends!