Saturday, February 20, 2010

Resolution Day Trip for January

Leesburg, Virginia
(pretty house)

So. I took them off the site because I thought it might be too personal for public consumption, but I did make resolutions. And one of them involved at least 1 day trip out of the District to see the surrounding countryside. I didn't want to continue the trend of responding to friends and colleagues with "Yeah, I've never even been to Baltimore to explore." Lame.
The first place I chose was a small town in Virginia that held a variety of attractions: historical architecture, state park land, and ... outlets. I couldn't resist, sorry. I give you: Leesburg, VA.
There is an interesting set of bumps around the chimney that I found ... unique.

There was a surfeit (did I use that right?) of antique shops in the downtown area, and one that was French-inspired non-antiques. You know the type of store: a little chi-chi, a little ungenuine, but with a wealth of inspiration for ideas. I loved the wall of French Country tablecloths not for their patterns but for their colors- bright!

A historical mill turned into a mall- great idea!

A well-preserved home, but answer me this: why are there shutters haphazardly on some of the window sides but not on others? Maybe some experienced East-Coaster can tell me...

The obligatory Confederate soldier (it is Virginia); Herb Soup (SOOOOOOO good) at the Green Tree restaurant; a fascinating gate near the county court complex

After an hour or so of shooting pictures and wandering in and out of downtown small businesses (a cupcake may have been consumed), I struck out with the Cav again, destination: Ball's Bluff Battlefield, which among other attractions, contains the 3rd-smallest national cemetery in the U.S. (it was pretty small). I read about the battle at Ball's bluff in a non-educated way, and imagined the sensation of looking across a river so picturesque and knowing enemies lay hidden, so close!

The last stop in town was food-related. I had seen this place online but not given it much thought, but after seeing its bizarre decor from the outside, my curiosity was piqued to try it out. Doner Bistro, it turns out, is German immigrant food, served by Germans themselves! I thought it was kind of funny...

And the crowd was gre-e-e-e-eat...

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Food Catch-ups from January

Gnocchi (pre-made) with a sauce concocted by me and consisting of pine nuts, green garlic pesto and parmesan.

Kale, garlicky and cool, in my favorite side salad, next to Irish bacon for a full island feel.

Rustic Cabbage Soup, rustled up during a cold winter spell (although nothing like the blizzards of the past week) that I got off of the 101 Cookbooks site, a lovely Californian idea.
And finally, a meal made entirely of roasted garlicky itsy-bitsy potatoes (Trader Joe's experiment) and the same kale, this time shocked and awed with soy and balsamic. Yum. It nourished and sustained me just like a so-called 'real meal.'

Then there was the ending:

Ah, perfect.

New Year's O-SE-CHI dinner

Hmm... I wonder why everything seems to revolve around food here...
This is the story of my New Year's Eve, when I ushered in 2010 to my life.
My friend Jess invited me along to a dinner party at her, and our, friend Eric's apartment. (This is Eric)
They had dreamt up the idea of having an osechi dinner, which means a lot of little Japanese dishes (I think). I tried to think of something to bring, but only came up with some Japanese candy that I found at Borders, of all places. "MADE IN JAPAN" it said, leaping out at me. "Perfect!" I thought.
But I soon discovered that nothing I could have brought would really have countered the awesomeness of the food I was going to consume this night. Jess and Eric both showed their true gourmet skillz.
There was some sort of sea creature, dried out and in strips, to soften and wind around another sea creature... well, I'm still not sure what I was eating, but I know it was really good. Here's the appetizer I helped with:
The entire exercise was made more intimate and exciting by the size of the range in Eric's apartment:
Cozy! :-)

Christmas in Sacramento, Part IV

Before therewere meringues, but now I felt like I needed to show off..... galettes! They go by many times, and it seems that galette is just the one least heard of in my circle of acquaintances. Ah well. It's the country French version, so I like it. A galette is basically pie dough that is tweaked a little bit, topped with a creamy liquid to seal the bottom since there is no pan, and a filled with any combination of savory or sweet fillings you can imagine. Then you fold the dough up the sides to contain the goodness. Here's where I found out about these and got the courage to make the dough from scratch. She's a pro.

(But by the way, this recipe for dough is what I used for this galette, but it wasn't as easy to work with as the all-butter one above. It was still delicious though!)

Here's the second concocion: a fritatta with sundried tomatoes and feta and 'whatever else,' courtesy of ... I don't remember. I thought it was in my Google Reader queue, but apparently not. I riffed on someone else's idea anyway.


Sacramento Christmas, Part III: Spaghetti Factory!

Yes, yes, so this is where we go when we have exhausted the pantry or patience resources in-house (or didn't plan for a meal in time to shop for it!).
I would first like to point out how seriously we take our ordering: I take it very seriously, and it's good to know I come by it honestly, this 'crise de decision' that seizes me sometimes... And here's the crowd:
Mr. Mustache himself.
The Teacher, with momentarily-entertained Student.
The mama, glad to be out and enjoying herself at any time of year!
(And I didn't get a good picture of Matt, so he'l have to wait for another holiday)

More Family Fun (Part II)

More shots from the family outing to the park. It seems we are a tribe that likes to make faces.
Cousin Theresa:

Mom passed hers along to Heather...

Cute, huh? And here's a couple more, even cuter!

I love this one :-) What a look.

And this is Carlton! Who, I understand, made a bang-up batch of peach preserves. The jar I got is helping me to reach my daily fruit and vegetable requirement, lemme tell ya- so good!
Finally, what do kids like to do around zoo creatures/ barn animals? Watch and find out:

Christmas Day and the Day After, Part I

So here we are, as usual, Dad and me, waiting for everyone else to get up on Christmas morning. He was using the time profitably, reading the manual for the video camera. Me, I don't remember what I was doing, but it probably involved the chocolate chip cookies Dad baked and brought up for me...And here is the scene a bit later. Mom and Dad, enjoying the family they've created.

We pretty much stayed in all day and enjoyed food and fiddling with the presents we'd gotten each other. The next day though, we needed to get out of the house, so we braved the "cold" (it was maybe 40 degrees) to meet up with the Blake side of the family, at a nearby park.

Apparently this park is near a zoo.

And we love taking pictures of zoo creatures, and, well, anything, really. More to come :-)

Monday, February 8, 2010

Christmas 2009, Sacramento-style

So there I was, chilling in California at my sister's place for Christmas. It's in Suburbia. We were entertaining ourselves... which is why we came up with such great food! I serendipitously got a recipe for what Real Simple called Chocolate Chip Meringue Kisses, but what we all knew were really Surprise Meringues that my Grandma Pinard used to make- what a find! So I bookmarked it and brought the idea with me to Cathy's, where we were able to make a good-sized batch with her mixer (which I don't have). They were delicious! They started out SUPER crispy, then got more chewy as they sat on the stove and absorbed moisture, just like I remember.

And I loved the wonky shapes! It looks like a class of meringues doing yoga, no?

Cathy made her contribution as well- cranberry bread, tart and flavorful, which we had to bring to the family dinner with the Owenses (but we kept half at home for toast and snacking).

We had a lovely dinner cooked by Jan with others contributing- towering mounds of culinary goodness! Also, there was a little white elephant gift exchange which turned out to be a riot. Just gotta have it with the right people- in this case, Corey and Jim!

And then of course, there was the Wii Bowling Tournament to get through. Watch out for that furniture- it'll getcha!