Monday, June 27, 2011

Good Aunt Points

I have survived.

And I think I've even chaulked up a few Good Aunt Points.

I'm calling that a Victory. Now for Recovery.

Friday, June 17, 2011

Showing Early Signs

I have folded sheets. I have arranged towels. I have set out folders with information. I am baking banana cookies as we speak.

You may think that I am the proprietress of a bed and breakfast, but you're wrong. I am, however, showing early signs of heading in that direction.

No, I am all a-flutter with anticipation that my sister, her husband, and their two kids should have a wonderful vacation here in Our Nation's Capital, with me as their Hostess with the Most-ess.

There are some that might gape, incredulous: "But you live in a one-bedroom apartment; how is't possible?" Well, it's been a lo-o-o-ong time since I went camping, but here's my chance!

Haha. I'm borrowing an AeroBed to sleep in the living room while the other four take my pretty spacious bedroom which, in all fairness, is almost the size of the hotel room they might have paid for.

And what do I get out of this? Besides the quality time with a sibling, Martians from the planet Childhood, and a tall guy to help hang stuff on the wall? I get to be a tour guide! I love being a tour guide. :-)

Plus, these Banana Cookies are nothing to sneeze at... nom nom nom...(and I love the story that goes with them)

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

No Charm

Apparently I have no charm, because I do not have a third post in me on this third day back in the swing. I am full up with preparing to host family in my apartment for 10 days, and planning what seems like a dozen trips for myself. In terms of numbers of trips, the work jaunts (4) far outnumber the vacation trips (1), but in terms of effort going into planning them? A little heavy on the vacation end... :-)

Here, then, are two quotations which have jumped out at me in the search for the Scotland itinerary and inspired me to make it through another work day...

#1: Scotland exudes "a liberating feeling of seclusion" from Time Out Scotland.

---that's what I'm looking for!

#2: H.V. Morton writes: "Scotland is the best place in the world to take an appetite."

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

A One-Two Punch... to get in the SWING of things!

Ohhh, I love a good groaner, pun, quip, whatever you want to call it. (Thesaurus online also informs me I could use the synonyms calembour, equivoque, or paronomasia-- good to know!)

So to follow up my first post in a while, I have a second post on the second day; that is my one-two punch, and I am hoping it will get me back in the swing of things, 'Things' being the new name for this blog.

Just kidding.

No, those are not potatoes...
Dinner tonight! (Talk about a fast turnaround.)
So what is so exciting it got me to post about it right away? It has nothing at all to do with the food, per se; the deciding factor was a little time on my hands, a surfeit of reading (heaven forbid!) and okay, I am proud of having yoinked out a new recipe.

I had radishes that were wasting away and I knew I'd seen and heard of a strange thing-- cooking radishes-- so I decided to try this new witchery and taste the results. I used another recipe of Deborah Madison's - she's a good go-to for vegetables that I didn't grow up with - "Braised Red Radishes." I link to the New York Times 'adaptation,' which consisted of doubling hers. I went the opposite way, as well as substituting garlic for the shallot, since I was plum out.
I had to simmer longer than 3-5 minutes, but they did turn tender. I cooked the liquid down, but maybe not long enough. I added a glug of red wine toward the wine, when maybe I should have added it at the beginning of the reducing time. What do you think? The sauce was disappointing, but the radishes themselves were interesting; they'd turned pretty bland, with just a whisper of wine and thyme. Will go for a more gravy-like sauce next time.

While I was waiting for that magic to happen (get it? witchery? magic?), I went in another direction to use the asparagus I'd bought on Sunday (only 2 days ago, but the poor bundle had been in the cold fridge unlooked-after). I steamed half of it under lemon, salt and pepper, let it cool, added oil, balsamic, and draped it with prosciutto. Sexy, hein? This is prosciutto from La Quercia in Iowa, a font of sustainable admirability. I mean, from what I can taste and read. I first tried their cured meat at The Publican, another incredibly amazing spot for foodies in Chicago. Maybe I'll rave more about them later. Back to dinner tonight.

What else is there in that picture? More green? Yep- that would be Trader Joe's Minted Peas, frozen and convenient. Mighty tasty, too. Here's to versatility!

Monday, June 13, 2011

Delicate Rush

Inspired by a great friend who does great things, I'm back. This required substantial force to overcome the inertia, but that's one of the reasons for the inspiration- it can be done, and many a time!
So, here I am, ready to toss off a short review of a recipe from Deborah Madison's Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone without so much as a mention of the weeks and weeks that I haven't posted.
Not so much as a mention..... did you catch that?

So much for thwarting inertia; it had to be acknowledged.

So I'd found not Napa cabbage (excellent for making soy-ginger-dressed salads in a snap) but Savoy cabbage at the farmers' market. Hmph, I thought, that has to translate into something interesting. Well, I didn't do the usual exhaustive research because my internet was down (please click that). But the second cookbook I looked in had an intriguing 'Gratin au Chou' or 'Cabbage Gratin' if that sounds any less fou-fou to you. Lightly boiled chopped cabbage, mixed in with milk, flour, egg, tomato paste and cream, and sprinkled with chopped herbs and pepper.

Only the closest thing I had to cream or creme fraiche was vanilla drinkable yogurt. So in it went! And everything else was thirded down to fit into 2 ramekins instead of a 'gratin dish,' whatever that is. It was supposed to serve 4, with 3 eggs, and I used 1 egg but it was 2 meals. Go figure.
I only put in a smidgeon of the herb I'd picked to substitute, and it duly hid its flavor under a bushel. It did take 50 minutes, even though the quantity was so much less, perhaps because of the depth of the liquid in the ramekins. And of course, probably the most important lesson to impart, I used the toaster oven, in order to 1) decrease heat (it is DC in June) 2) decrease AC necessary (I am saving up for a swish vacation) and 3) waste not, want not.
In the end, I pronounced it pretty good, but it could have done with either more salt or more cheese (which contributes a salty tang). Any thoughts?

Before the 50 minutes

And so, with that, I sashay back into blog world, and let the world of Other Writing recede a little. Next hope up: post pictures and writings of the trips to Charlotte and to San Francisco! Maybe when I get another delicate rush of inspiration.