Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Catch Up

Well people, I guess we are witnessing how much of this blog was put together at work. Because this new job? Pretty busy, and what time I do I have I've been spending outside finding trails to walk and stopping in to chat with the cows and the pigs. Man baby pigs are so freakin' cute. Gah.

I am lame on the picture front but I just realized that I had my camera in my bag and I am wearing my most swanky birthday sweater from this gal. Pretty swanky, no?

I did nothing but sew curtains this weekend. I approach sewing the way I imagine boozers approach their benders: completely hell-bent and sort of distantly aware that it's not particularly good for me. But B requested that these go unlined, so they were a breeze compared to the bedroom. They are LOUD. Like bright mustard or gold with huge flowers. Every once in a while I look at them and think "Oh God!" but mostly I love them. Really the best thing about the living room is that we finally hung up our instruments. Prior to doing this we had instrument cases coming out of our ears. Multiple banjo cases, multiple fiddle cases, a big old guitar case. So annoying - if they were tucked away it was a pain in the ass to just sit down and plonk out a few tunes when there was a spare minute to kill but if everything was out and open there was cussing when you inevitably couldn't get a door open or travel to the bathroom and come back with your toes still attached. Plus our instruments are beautiful. Especially my banjo, it is such a looker. So that is all very exciting.

In garden news, the seeds for next year have been ordered! I abandoned my favorite seed shop, Johnny's, because they finally pushed this frugal girl over the edge with their sky high prices and outlandish shipping charges. Their seeds really do rock - I had a far more mixed experience with Baker Creek last year - but we are scrappy and I really wanted to try some new stuff without laying out $5 a pack. So we cast our hand with a different shop that a friend had a good experience with last year. I also kind of appreciate the smaller number of choices - the Baker Creek catalog this year nearly gave me a heart attack.

In food news, I am a broken record, but this bread book absolutely rocks so hard. We have not purchased bread in about a month and I, the bread slayer, have baked up several loaves without disaster. It also makes me feel warmly toward my KitchenAid again after growing peeved with how it left a bunch of unmixed butter at the bottom of my last cake batter.

Also, we made a pot roast. This, no surprise, is one of those things that I've never eaten before and for the most part had only a vague idea of what it was or how it worked. Well I'll tell you: what it is is delicious and how it works is so easy that you could be asleep when you made it. I don't know if all pot roasts turn out like this, but the meat was very, er, dense, none of this soft fatty business. Kind of the way duck confit takes regular old duck meat and gives you back something hardened and rich. Bad explanation, and I am pretty sure that this is one of those things that everyone but hippie kids ate during their childhood so you are all probably asleep. But man, so good. And then we made hash the next day with our eggs and fresh greens and lord, all was well. Anyway, we followed the first recipe in this awesome cookbook and we'll do it again I'm sure.

And that is the news for now.

Monday, January 19, 2009

Winter Color Week: Late on the Stripes

So Friday was supposed stripes and plaids, but the dish just sort of ran away with the spoon and something had to give. So my stripes are late and I forgot about plaids entirely, but I think it will all be ok.

How were the weekends out there? Looking back on mine, there wasn't any real reason that it was crazy, but it felt a little crazy anyway. Realizing that the new job does not in any way put me in the neighborhood of our preferred grocery store, along with the realization that I am going to get home later than I used to, along with days lately where B would probably freeze permanently to the scooter if he ventured out on it resulted in our doing something this weekend that I kind of thought I would never be into: figuring out all our food for the week and going to the store once on Saturday. Insane, I know. I mostly wanted to do it because I love spending Sunday cooking at a very mellow and relaxed pace, and together we can easily roll out a huge pan of lasagna (with leeks, mushrooms, kale, spinach, garlic, yum), roasted beets and sweet potatoes for lunches, a sort of cream cheese garlic herb spread to go with the roasted veggies on a rye bread sandwich, a pie crust for quiche later in the week, and the aforementioned loaf of bread for the week. Plus now I will no longer look at the clock, realize that I need to get the hell out of the library or my husband will think I have gone missing, and then remember that we have no idea what we're eating for dinner. So far it's all good, but we'll see how long we last.

I know, it's so exciting you are all on the very edge of your chairs. Sorry to get your heart rate up on a Monday morning. Ahem.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Winter Color Week: Pink

Today is pink and here are my pinks and here is also a recipe that turned out tip-top and easy peasy and since Tandoori Chicken is *usually* pink I think it suits. I know that chicken recipes are kind of boring, and honestly I never order Tandoori Chicken out anyway so I am not even completely sure what it is supposed to taste like. But. This here chicken is perfectly spiced and has that tangy yogurt quality that is just so delicious. I halved the recipe and B and I chewed everything down to the bone.

Tandoori Chicken at Home
From Cook's Illustrated

2 tablespoons vegetable oil
6 medium garlic cloves, minced or pressed
2 tablespoons grated or minced fresh ginger
1 tablespoon garam masala
2 teaspoons ground cumin
2 teaspoons chili powder
1 cup plain whole milk yogurt
4 tablespoons juice from 2 limes
2 teaspoons table salt
3 pounds bone-in, skin-on chicken parts (boobs, thighs, drumsticks), skin removed and trimmed of excess fat

1. Heat oil in small skillet over medium heat until shimmering. Add garlic and ginger and cook until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add garam masala, cumin, and chili powder, continue to cook another minute or two. Transfer half of garlic-spice mixture to medium bowl; stir in yogurt and two tablespoons of lime juice and set aside.

2. In a large bowl, combine remaining garlic-spice mixture, remaining 2 tablespoons of lime juice, and salt. Using a sharp knife, lightly score the outside of each piece of chicken (about 1/8 of an inch deep, scores slightly less than an inch apart), transfer chicken to this same large bowl. Using hands (eew!) gently massage salt-spice mixture into chicken until all pieces are evenly coated. Let stand at room temperature for 30 minutes.

3.Adjust oven rack to upper middle position and heat oven to 325 degrees. Pour yogurt mixture over chicken and toss until chicken is evenly coated with a thick (thick!) layer. Arrange chicken on a wire rack set into a foil lined, rimmed baking sheet or broiler pan. Discard excess yogurt mixture if you have any. Bake chicken until an instant-read thermometer inserted into thickest part of the chicken registers 125 for breasts and 130 for legs and thighs (20-30 minutes in my oven). Transfer piece to plate as they reach temperature.

4. After removing all piece of chicken from oven, turn oven to broil and wait 10 minutes for broiler to reach temperature. Broil chicken until lightly charred in spots (trust me, these are the tastiest parts) and ye old thermometer reads 165 for boobs and 175 for legs and thighs (8-15 minutes in my oven). Transfer chicken to plate, tent loosely with foil and let rest for 5 minutes.

5. Serve it up with rice, veggies, and any favorite chutneys or relishes.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Winter Color Week: Yellow

When I looked out the window in the middle of the night it was white with snow. Just a dusting, but around here we take what we can get. It was still there in the morning but it's gone now, leaving just some damn cold weather in its place.

I like yellow. A lot. It is not a color for the wearing of things, as I think it makes me look like I haven't slept or eaten a vegetable in two weeks, but I make up for it in the home economics department. I meant to take a picture of my favorite chicken, who is a beautiful golden yellow, and a picture of our garlic shooting up through crazy layers of rich yellow straw, but the early morning and the previously mentioned cold conspired against both of those. Thus.

Everyone knows that I am a sucker for this gal's work.

And this gal's.

This one would get an F in food styling. Sorry, sorry. But it's some wicked tasty farm fresh egg salad. Made with homemade mayonnaise, and put on homemade bread for a fantastic lunch. I think I mentioned that I got a human bread machine when B got the bread bug at my mom's house. We came home and he cracked open this book and lemme tell you: it really is as easy as all that (note: we don't have a pizza stone and it's all ok - use a cast iron skillet if you have one, a baking sheet if you don't). B has turned out some exceptional crusty sourdough kinds of loaves, and then we (umm, yes - it's so easy that I can do it) made a sandwich loaf with whole wheat and wheat germ and a little bit of rye flour. It is not only cheap and virtuous, but holy hell, it makes the house smell fantastic.

The egg salad is just eggs, mayo, mustard, salt, pepper, very finely chopped celery, and a lot of flat leaf parsley. If you want to lose your mind at lunch then chop up some bacon and throw that it. Oooph.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Winter Color Week: Purple

Oh my goodness, I am crazy busy at the new job. I haven't had my head eaten up by work in a long, long time, and although I know I will have to work on not being a stress case, this girl thrives on busy and she is happy.

But it does mean that I have not had very much daylight time to notice color, so here are the purples as I found them. Purple is Not My Thing, and in fact I had to get the seed catalog open to find any in my own house. The shoes are on a real human and they remind me of a cross between something my mother would wear and something my Jude would wear. Crazy.

Monday, January 12, 2009

Winter Color Week: Blue

Well hello, you. How were the weekends out there? We two hermits had a weekend of Getting Out of the House. Last week B moved almost the entire living room into every available nook and cranny and got down to some serious painting business, making for an exciting if slightly chaotic and fume filled house, so out we go. Truly we are lucky to have such fabulous friends (who play games!) and music to greet us when we get the itch.

I have foods for you, but the painting put everything in a box or a stack or a closet or under the bed, so soon I swear. Until then, it's color week, hosted by the lovely Leya. Today is blue, and here are mine.

A Sunday staple around here. Nothing spells cozy like a hot beverage and a fresh puzzle. I get antsy and squeaky every time.

My bedside table: salvaged chair from a corner in San Francisco and a vintage tray...

There is so much music that comes out of this shabby fiddle case, my man is one talented musician. Romantic trivia: our first kiss was executed over a banjo and a fiddle, after playing our first four breathless tunes together in my living room. The best.

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Birthday Girl

Well goodness. Sometimes so much has happened since we last talked. The year has turned. Friends have come and gone. I started a new job. I had a birthday.

Too much for much of a story in my busy days right now, but suffice to say that it was grand and delicious and warm and cozy. Here are a few pictures for show.

Benjamin made short ribs for our new year meal. They were scrumptious that night, and possibly even better the next night when shredded into tacos. The big raw beefiness was a little scary for this veggie kiddo, but my plate was clean at the end of both meals.

Steamed carrots for my Gran's most special Carrot Orange cookies.

The batter for the same. Someday when we know each other better I will give you the recipe. I swear.

Clever clues for my most fabulous birthday treasure hunt. I love birthday sneakiness.

Two of the three sneaks, and how lovely to have them here. Safe home you two, thank you for coming all this way.