Wednesday, September 29, 2010

A Recent Recipe, for a change

I am here to tell you about a simple unassuming recipe I made last weekend (how's that for recent?).

This recipe is from Simply Recipes, a blog by Elise, who lives in California in a very nice area that I have actually visited. Her entries usually manage to cheer me no matter what the topic is- her positive and teasing tone, along with great ideas that seem both creative and easy-to-try, make her blog one of my favorites. Oh, and she's also so consistent. Something which not all of us, ahem, manage to be.
Yum-o! I even managed to construct a brand-new spatial arrangement for chicken tenders- maybe I should patent it?- it's called 'Zenga Tenders'! :-)
So, as usual I made a lot of changes. Let's see:
  • 2 lbs chicken tenders (about 12 pieces) (halved the recipe, for starters)
  • 1 1/2 cups buttermilk* (cheated with the ol' lemon in regular milk, since, honestly, who BUYS buttermilk??)
  • 1 cup bread crumbs (used panko- an improvement for every time something calls for bread crumbs)
  • 2 Tbsp Italian seasoning herbs** (I didn't have al the herbs below, so I played up the thyme, rosemary, and oregano, all dried. It was still good enough that I opened the oven to check and said, "Now THAT smells Italian!" Take that whatever way you wish.)
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • Vegetable oil
  • 2 Tbsp butter, melted
Tomato Dipping Sauce
  • 2 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1/4 cup minced onion
  • 1 chopped garlic clove
  • 1 Tbsp tomato paste (I used a T of concentrated red pepper dip to liven it up, and because it's so good)
  • 1 15-ounce can of tomato sauce or crushed tomatoes (perfect! I had half of a can I needed to use up)
  • 1 teaspoon salt (pinch)
  • 1 teaspoon sugar (pinch)
*You can make a substitute for buttermilk by adding a tablespoon and a half of lemon juice or vinegar to 1 1/2 cups of milk and letting the mixture stand for 10 minutes. (I think I was a little impatient)
**A mixture of dried herbs often used in Italian cooking such as marjoram, thyme, rosemary, savory, sage, oregano, and basil

I followed most of the instructions after that, except for the blending of the sauce (too finicky). I ask you, WHO wants to clean out a food processor container, blade, and lid, when in exchange you could get a textured and tasty tomato dipping sauce? I think we all know the answer to that: not me!

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

More District fun shots

 You wanted a can a soda, right?
A statue that had its end cleaned up before its front

A goofy grin on a good friend

 A reminder of Grandpa and the U.P. Go Yoopers!
[It says: My heart is in da U.P. but my ass is stuck right here!]

A portabello mushroom sandwich indulged in on a market day, and someone misspelling my name. *Sigh*

Friday, September 17, 2010

Bricks in DC

My theme (since I feel a need for one) for this post is Bricks in DC- pictures of my current city that involve bricks. Not a surprising element when you recall that much of DC was constructed between 1902 - 1922.
We'll start with one of my favorite buildings in DC, and I'll give you a sort of tour. This is the National Building Museum, which used to be the Pension Bureau and then government offices. They give fascinating tours of the place and its history - for free!

This is a neighborhood building- a corner lot at 12th and P Sts, I believe. Its front yard is covered in bricks, which is not very picturesque. But if one looks UP, one finds the cutest, most picturesque little turret window. I looked up at that turret window for a while (hope the residents didn't get weirded out), and I'm not quite sure how it's used. It's not big enough for a body, so maybe as a skylight? A very creative or very whimsical architect must have been given some free reign (but not with the patio), which makes me grin.

This one is located very near my apartment building. There is a seemingly abandoned building (but in good shape- not sure what the circumstances are) across the street, and which has become a beacon for neighborhood cats. Not because there are plenty of mice-- no, they're too spoiled for that! Someone puts out cat food and water (cat water?) for them here, and they end up hanging out in the grass of the overgrown lawn and having kittens all the time....  it's definitely not a dog's life!
I thought this was a cute one, and knew I just had to bie my time before I would get this shot. I believe this is from my phone camera, as I was coming from or going on a run- pays to keep the eyes open! Now I've made you cat-lovers smile. :-)

Here's an interesting one- I don't know much about the building, although I'd like to.
It's on New York Ave, heading NE after the Convention Center, and I turned around and saw this one morning while running. Gem? Looks like a perfect fixer-upper!
The sign says "Rebirth: Howard Theatre" and so I was able to investigate. Here's what I found:
"The famed Howard Theatre in Washington, DC, at the corner of 7th & T Streets, launched the careers of Duke Ellington, Ella Fitzgerald, Marvin Gaye, Roberta Flack and many many others. This year as this local landmark celebrates its 100th anniversary in a sad state of disrepair, it’s just on the verge of undergoing a 28-million dollar restoration project which will return it to its glorious beginnings."
All RIGHT! Love historical restorations.

I'm currently on the mend from a toe sprain, which I've been informed takes ages to heal, so I may actually have time to catch up on the photos in the mornings! :-) I do hope it heals soon though, as not running now makes me feel less of a fully-alive human bean!

Monday, September 13, 2010

A Flood of NY Pictures

Port Washington dock
Sign about Port Washington Dock
My first run!
Shadows on leaves
My shadow and the blue, blue water
Foliage on the art museum grounds
Ginny and Irene
Cindy and Irene
Nassau County Fine Arts Museum- home of the angry geese!
Lesson: BE HAPPY!

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Co-dinner party!

This is how it happened. My friend Saqib and I hadn't seen each other in a while, so we set a date for a weeknight dinner to catch up. I veered us the way of home cooking instead of going out, and he veered us the way of his apartment instead of mine. So far, so normal.
Oh, and this was last week, so a recent event, with beautifully gentle summer weather. Also coinciding with the night before Eid.
My friend Lisa had recently mentioned getting together to catch up as well, s I cleared a few other guests with Saqib, since tetes-a-tetes can be good, but more people can make it lively, and that was all right, so we each invited a couple more. Ok, I invited 4, but there was an attrition rate of 50%, so that was fine. Saqib invited Nora and Michael, again with an attrition rate of 50%. Still good.
Our very full, very provided-for plates
But it turns out both Saqib and I have latent (or maybe obvious) tendencies to Provide, i.e. we cooked food for 8, expecting 6, and in the event having 4. Ah, the beauty of leftovers... :-)
So here is what we made:
Buttermilk Barley Salad, adapted from 101 Cookbooks' Buttermilk Farro Salad (when farro is $10 for a half a pound, I substitute. I still have not tasted it!) I made some of her substitutions mentioned in this post, and also a few more: no zucchini, but cucumbers, and red onion, yes. And on the buttermilk ranch dressing, without going out for fresh herbs, I used dried thyme and dried dill, in small quantities, since it was enough to give the taste. Yum.
Eggplant with basil, Thai-style. This was Saqib's creation, and so I don't have a link, but it seemed pretty easy - except for the sheer amount of chopping involved and the timing and quantities for sauces added- that looked a bit tricky. Came out very well though, with a hint of kick, but not too much for this wimp. :-)
Soy-glazed sweet potatoes, here. Also pretty easy, although mine cooked up soft and creamy instead of crispy as I expected. And I wouldn't recommend doing the basting thing, since it led to a sticky, baked-on kind of syrup to clean up. I'd just go for it as a dressing next time, since I don't think it added much to do it in the oven. Very good though.
And now for the piece de resistance! Well, not really. In fact, it was absolutely the opposite. I sliced up the peaches, leaving the skins on. I put them in a pan they just fit in, so there wasn't a lot of room to coat and toss with sugar and flour. I forgot to add the spices I had brought: ginger and pumpkin pie spice (for the cardamom), so the latter went on after the topping. The topping itself (an adapted crisp) was casually scaled down (meaning I did not really do any conversions, just slapped some sugar (brown and white), flour, melted butter, and the chopped toasted pecans together) and stirred a bit before pressing on top of the peaches. Here is the inspiration (love this blog) for my version above, and I will say, I got no complaints!

Friday, September 10, 2010

A Strange and Wonder-full Place

I have been wonderfully taken up with fun activities and thus not as committed to this 'do whatever, however, whenever, in any order' to get my backed-up entries onto the blog. I have also been up and down with work being crazy-busy then crazy-boring (the occasional lull). I take advantage of the lulls to recover.
Which is to say that I don't use that free time sorting through photos, organizing them in folders, loading them in groups of 5 to the site, and piecing together formatting and text to make the entries work. It can get a wee bit tedious. I have been outdoors! The weather has turned beautiful in the past couple of weeks, and I am enjoying pretending I am back in my home region (yes, once a spoiled Californian, always a spoiled Californian).
I still remember you're here though!