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Sunday, April 26, 2009

Springing Up with new projects and ambitions

Hey there y'all. So I have earned the status of the Rare Updater, but as you can see, I'm turning over a new leaf, and posting much more regularly (if a bit all-over-the-place). But it's proof I'm working on paying attention to this blog as a tool of communication with my much-beloved long-distance friends. So that's good. Tonight I am posting two projects: early Sunday lunch, and Dessert First dinner.
1) This was a week in the making- first I made the red lentil soup almost a week ago, which recipe I got from Sarah McColl's fabulous site: Pink of Perfection.
Only, by the time I finished with the stewing and dishwashing, I had snacked enough so that I wasn't hungry, so I put it away with the parsley to have later. The same thing happened the next night with my barley risotto with asparagus! And I had sauteed mushrooms with garlic, so I stowed those away for some unknown-as-yet purpose as well. While baking banana bread for colleagues, I had also baked up the rest of a package of bacon, so that was crisp and waiting. Thus, we arrive at the Red Lentil Stew with caramelied onions, mushrooms, and bacon garnish-- the Stew That Was-- delicious.
So that was my substantial fuel for a day of treat-myself shopping, and need it I did, what with being assailed by the produce at the farmer's market at Dupont and feeling drained by the out-of-nowhere heat in DC this weekend. Bene.
Up next is the project I undertook when I got home. Not wanting to spend more money, but not yet ready to settle in with magazine-deluttering (e.g. reading) for the night, I remembered I had bought the cocoa powder to make the Chocolate-Pumpkin Loaf that was meant to be a way to finish the half-can of pumpkin I had after making these Pumpkin Chocolate Chip muffins. You see, I try to be economical around here, but one thing just leads to another. Anyway, the instructions for the Chocolate Pumpkin quick bread couldn't be simpler: Mix ingredients. Okayyy... then bake for 40-45 minutes, and voila! Here is the loaf and my first slice (always a dicey endeavor to extract gracefully).And here is the slice up close, so you can see the gorgeous melty 'p├ępites de chocolat'! I put in a half-cup of chocolate chips and about a third of a cup of cacao nibs just to see what happened, and I think it would probably be better with ust half a cup of chips. Ah well. Choc-tastic!

Mmmm...
and then I had an anticlimactic chicken with mushroom-herb sauce (from a jar. A good jar), followed by a simple mesclun salad. After a dessert like this, all the rest is gravy!

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Catching up with photos and videos!

Hmm... So I used to have a handle on the uploading and displaying of photos, but they seem to have gotten away from me. And the way iTunes picks out the videos and creates a different folder for them on the day you uploaded them instead of the day you recorded them means that I left some behind! So I'll stick one in here, if I may, from the St Patrick's Day performance I saw at the Kennedy Center's Millennium Stage (free!).
video

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

After Birthday Blue

I wish I knew how to do more fancy-pants features with this blog! I guess I could take some time to figure it out, but... I guess I'm satisfied enough with the plain old Jane old format to continue as-is.
So, my birthday was on Monday! And it was a darned-pretty-good day. I had a small gathering of friends who happened to have time on Sunday afternoon over in my backyard. Actually, it's a cement patch. And it was its 'coming out party'- the first time I'd used it. I hope to make much more use in the coming months in the hot hot weather!
I cooked whatever came swirling out of my head a few hours before the start time, confident that the full fridge would yield some zingy combinations, and it did, I think:
hot Italian sausage for appetizer
homemade mint and jasmine iced tea
sauteed kale and caramelized onions
spaghetti with salmon, asparagus, and pine nuts
kimchi mandu (ok, those were from H Mart)
pumpkin chocolate chip muffins (http://www.5dollardinners.com/2008/09/pumpkin-chocolate-chip-muffins.html
pear tart (http://localfoods.about.com/od/fall/r/pear_tart.htm)

And it was a pretty good success! In spite of the rain drops falling on our heads.

Monday, April 13, 2009

Taking stock

So today doesn't end in a 5, but this Wednesday will be extremely busy at work and so will probably forget. Come to think of it, this whole week is pretty busy, so I had better get something up to keep readers interested, yes?
It is April already, other people's remembered birthdays are speeding by, the weather is getting better, and growing things are enchanting my imagination. Right outside my office building there is a small stand of tulips that some building management company planted, and I noticed today that the tulip heads are almost ready to unfurl, and... there's a stowaway! In a field of yellow, there is one lone red tulip, and the sight of it quite brightened my day. "Even this one" made it through the corporate machine with its individuality, so there's hope!
Amid the gym classes, recycling errands, organizing binges, and tax day (gaaa!!), I will try a couple new things in the kitchen this week- hoping to use the 2 remaining sweet potatoes I've got, the carrots, celery and parsnips in the crisper, and the 1/2 chicken I've been meaning to roast. Stay tuned for that...

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Unbelievable flavor!

So I was crowing about this one for a while. I had a dinner party, where my little apartment was flooded with like, 5 people besides me. I made some pasta and whatever else, but the star of the meal was this experiment that looked SOOOO interesting. I was initially attracted by this most entertaining article I found online while looking for different uses for the sweet potato. It involves a roasted sweet potato, ground pork, miso paste, and some green vegetable such as broccoli rabe or green onions, which is what I used, not wanting to shell out for broccoli rabe. Voila:Ok, this is the magazine's photo, but mine came out pretty close, and oh-so-scumptious! I can not well describe the interplay of salty, sweet, tangy-- plus the textures-- that made for such good play on the tongue! Sufice to say you should try it yourself.
Actually, it looks like I only have the leftover picture- noooooo! The original at the party was much more elegant. Oh well. O Hell. Guess I'l have to make it again. Won't you come over to sample? :-) Happy Cherry Blossom Season!

St. Patrick's Day, Observed


And moving along, we come to my honoring of the day that celebrates Irish contributions to society. Long Live Eire! So because I wouldn't be in DC for the DC parade, I went to Alexandria, VA, where they had their own, much smaller affair. There was plenty of spirit and the sounds of pipes and drums to warm the heart, and the sight of fine marchers to warm up other places...
not to mention cool cars, plenty of Shriners, and some of those outrageous Irish dancing costumes! To whit:


It was a fun to-do, not to be marred, even by the mugginess, the commentator who insisted on marketing his message that Alexandria shouldn't relegate their St. Pat's parade to a side street, or the obsession of Alexandria residents for their dogs, which resulted in a prissy dog show on the main square. Nope, still enjoyed it!

Catch-up, ketchup, catsup...


Ok, ok, so a real entry.
Thankfully, there is no more of this in sight, as of the second week of March. No, the cold season is ebbing away, and hearty meals will transition now to less-starchy, less oven-necessitating alternatives.






But first, a star dish attempt from the wintertime sojourn, my first all alone in DC. On your right is an interesting combination: pasta with brussels sprouts, which I think didn't turn out exactly as cooked as the recipe called for, because when they sliced the sprouts, they did it in a processor with a slicing attachment, while I was doing it by hand with a dull knife, trying not to slip on the handle a third time. But it was ok. The gobs of melted cheese helped. What I really liked about this meal though, was the roasted vegetable 'extravaganza,' whose recipe you can find here. The beets stained everything a lovely pink, the parsnips and carrots turned sweet and succulent, and the fennel... well I didn't notice that much, but I'm sure it added something. :-)
In the interests of full disclosure, I include this photo, which followed the meal: