Monday, December 31, 2007

Palmiers!

Tonight we made Palmiers from the recipe in this month's Gourmet magazine. We cheated a bit by doing a Martha Stewart and using Pepperidge Farm puff pastry, but regardless these were super easy and really, really tasty!

Saturday, December 29, 2007

Miss Baby's First Christmas!!

This picture not only signifies Miss Baby's first Christmas, but also her first Christmas present. Something's telling me in the future it will take more than a wooden rattle with some colorful circles attached to evoke that level of excitement!

Friday, December 28, 2007

Check It Out!

Its a map of the Rue de la Clef

Yet Another Reason to Hate Apple...

I got a new computer (yay!) and this evening I attempted to move my ipod library onto my new computer (since my old computer will no longer recognize that it is connected to the internet, yada, yada, yada). First problem? I find my iPod box, my iPod receipt, but no software cd. Okay, fine. The Husband asks whether I can't just download the software from iTunes. Indeed, I can. I do this... download the software. Then I figure since my iPod is essentially a flash drive and all 1000 songs are already saved to it I should be able to just plug it in to my new computer and have all of my songs transfer, right? Of course not. Nope, instead the iTunes software asks me if I want to "sync" my iPod with the newly downloaded software-- which would be great except that to "sync" it would mean that my iPod would be wiped clean. Yeah, that's right-- it's not that the content of my iPod would be transferred to my new library, instead the empty library would be transferred to my iPod erasing everything I've ever put on it. I'm sure this all boils down to copyright issues but can I just say out of the 1,000 songs on my iPod 99 have been purchased from iTunes and 901 songs have been downloaded from my own CDs. Hello! What copyright issues?? Now I have to go into my old computer and either a) save my iTunes library to a CD or DVD (which, mind you, my old computer can't burn, so that's a no) or b) do some sort of complicated thing where I save all of my iTunes library onto my iPod (FOR A SECOND TIME) and then use it as a flash drive to download it to my new computer. Why I can't just transfer the songs in their current state is beyond me.

Thursday, December 27, 2007

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Monday, December 24, 2007

Danger Will Robinson!

Today I was in the city with the Dad. I had bought tickets to Harold Pinter's The Homecoming because Ian McShane is in it and he's one of the Dad's favorites ever since the days of Lovejoy. We had a nice brunch and did some shopping about and then headed over to the Cort theater for the play. For those of you in the northeast you'll know that today was not the nicest of days weather wise. After leaving the play (we're not even going to discuss the content or summary of the play other than to say-- what???? what the hell was that all about???) we were heading back to the garage to pick up the wagon. It had started raining quite a bit at that point and at the corner of 50th and 6th (where far too much of my life has always seemed to converge!) we bought a $5 umbrella from a street vendor. Just as we were crossing from the southwest corner to the northwest corner a huge wind gust kicked up. The umbrella is caught up in the gale and I manage to hit myself in the forehead with the metal umbrella pole while simultaneously knocking my Burberry rain hat off of my head. At exactly the same moment the Dad's Borsalino "water-repellent, crushable" fedora is launched off of his noggin, landing in the street, rolling under a police barricade and trying to make its way across 6th avenue to Radio City (I guess it wanted to catch the final days of the Christmas spectacular). My hat ended up in a puddle (containing who knows what kind of city grime and antifreeze) and the Dad's hat rolled into 6th just far enough to gather grit and grime. There were no cabs, our umbrella was completely shot, our hats were soaked (and to add insult to injury somehow or another my shoes were leaking so my socks were wet-- don't remind me that I had two pair of wellies sitting at home safe and dry in my closet). All I can say is I've never been quite so thankful that the wagon has heated seats.

Friday, December 21, 2007

Note to Self.

When you have a six month old and you're going out to lunch, the first rule of baby lunch is: only order food you can either (a) eat with one hand (aka french fries) or (b) eat with a fork (a spoon is just asking for trouble). Case in point-- risotto appetizer, uses a fork. fork good. Turkey club sandwich: two hands, bad. I managed to eat half of one quarter of the sandwich and took three quarters home.

Season's Greetings from Sting

You buy tickets to one lousy Sting concert at Ticketmaster.com and suddenly you're enrolled in some fan website and you get emails like "Season's Greetings from Sting!!" I wonder if he knows how often I make his favorite pasta sauce???

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Dangerously High Estrogen Levels...

So last night I watched back to back episodes of The Real Housewives of Orange County and then I watched Dreamgirls on HBO OnDemand (all the while while wrapping Christmas presents, etc.)

As for Dreamgirls, I do have to say, despite all the singing, it was entertaining, however, that being said, it couldn't hold a candle to Chicago. I know it was directed by Bill Condon and it was up for Best Picture, but it was just one or two steps above something you'd see on ABC's Family Channel. Chicago was one of the few movies I've walked out of thinking, "that'll win best picture"... (one of the other movies was The Departed, but there I was thinking, "it should win BP, but you know Marty Scorsese's record...." good thing it was broken, but I digress.)

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

It's already

December 18th... where has the season gone?? I just finished decorating the house yesterday which included 80 feet of natural garland (which I'm sure will start dropping needles in about five minutes or so), one large tree and two smaller ones (pictures to follow). One of the smaller trees has been decorated with our cat tree topper so it is officially the "cat tree", not to be confused of course with the real cat tree --being the six foot carpet and tree branch concotion which adornes our family room. I still have to make Miss Baby's stocking and manufacture candy for the Husband to bring to the office. Let's not forget about last minute shopping (egads!) and all that other good stuff. Looks like it will be a busy week.

Primer...


Anybody else seen this wacky indy movie about time travel? Thoughts, anyone?

Saturday, December 15, 2007

Ever Have....

one of those moments... today I was in the family room and I was thinking about how I visited Mont St. Michel with the Mom and Dad back in college-- I'm not quite sure what got me thinking about this, but I was and then I thought about that weird movie with Sam Waterston that was filmed entirely on location at Mont St. Michel a la "My Dinner with Andre". About fifteen minutes later I put on the tv and while searching through the Guide I noticed that said movie, "Mindwalk" was on IFC. Now if only I could harness this power for something more useful....?

Here Again....

How Its Made:

Mozzarella Cheese and Pantyhose, compact discs and flourescent tubes....

Magnets, Cooked Ham and Crash-Test Dummies.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Pennington Quilt Works

Miss Baby and I visited the Pennington Quilt Works the other day (as they are located next to the Wooly Lamb in Pennington) and the store is *really* cool. I fear I may have yet another hobby approaching on the horizon. (Let's not forget the piano. I've made very, very limited headway on the melody portion of Eric Satie's 3 Gnossiennes and so far have down pat the first three measures of the bass part of Linus and Lucy, unfortunately that is by far the easiest part of Linus and Lucy. I have *a lot* to learn.)

Gourmet!

Okay so the newest issue of Gourmet came and can I just say, it has some wonderful goodies in there-- especially in the candy and cookie department. Palmiers, torrone, peppermint patties! Candy thermometer and hard crack stage here we come!!

ps. this month's content was so good it even made Padma Lakshmi's chutney recipes sound tasty!

The Great Debaters....

Yesterday we watched the Des Moines Register Iowa Republican Debates. The editor of the Register was the moderator (and may I just say, she seemed less than professional when she said that she'd try not to be a "bitch" about enforcing the time limits... a bit colloquial for a newspaper editor, no?) Fox News said that it was a bit interesting that Alan Keyes was permitted to attend as he doesn't have a campaign office in Iowa and apparently certain of the Democratic candidates were limited from participating in their party's debate today for the same reason. I'll tell you why Alan Keyes was allowed to participate--- because someone had to make Ron Paul look less crazy. Is it just me or is Alan Keyes like a bad Garrett Morris character?

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

PR

Its the new season of Project Runway. For the past few weeks I kept thinking that Sweet "P" had a mole on her face near her lip. I just now realized its some sort of piercing (and we have an HD tv). So far, I have to say I like Kevin, mostly just because he reminds me of Joey Fatone (and I just think its funny that there are two people out there who look like Joey Fatone).

Monday, December 10, 2007

Our Trip Across Houston...

Miss S and I took some pictures the other day when crossing Houston from the FDR to the Holland Tunnel...








Saturday, December 08, 2007

Marmalade!

So today was our surprise party for the Husband's birthday. All went well and while the Husband did indicate that I had been "acting suspiciously" he did claim it was a surprise. As the party encompassed a gathering of friends I used this as a perfect opportunity to distribute jars of marmalade. What kind of marmalade? Orange marmalade! Jackie rightly inquired whether a search of the blog would bring up a posting about marmalade and I realized that I had completely ignored marmalade making in terms of food postings, so here goes!

So far I've made two batches of marmalade based on Ina Garten's recipe. The recipe is pretty simple-- 4 seedless oranges, 2 lemons, 8 cups (yes, 8 cups) of sugar and 8 cups of water. While the ingredients are simple, the act of marmalade making is a bit more complex (taking two days) but still, with the help of a candy thermometer, not too difficult.

First you need to slice the 4 oranges and 2 lemons very, very thinly. It's best if you cut the oranges and lemons in half and then in half again and slice them such that you're cutting the fruit so that each slice looks like a classic "fruit slice". Ina's recipe says that if you have a mandoline this process will be quick (the Husband wasn't quite sure why having a small stringed instrument would help....) and as for me, I've had a mandoline for years and years and still haven't figured out how to properly operate it.... so it was just me and my chef's knife. Make sure you put your fruit slices (and all of the juices) into a stainless steel pot (no flavor transfer). Once you have all of your slices in your pot, add 8 cups of water and bring to a boil. Once the mixture has come to a boil you'll add in your 8 cups of sugar, stirring until the sugar dissolves. Set aside your fruit/water/sugar concoction, covered, for 24 hours. The next day you'll bring your mixture to a boil again and then reduce to a simmer and continue simmering for 2 hours (stirring regularly). Also remember to skim off any foam that accumulates on top of your mixture. Once you've hit the 2 hour mark, next you'll increase the temperature again for another 30 minutes. You'll want to use a candy thermometer to confirm that the mixture has reached 220 degrees. The neat part is that the marmalade mixture will reduce quite a bit from your original 8 cups of water and much of the fruit will dissolve (even much of the orange and lemon rind!) During the 2 hour period your house will also fill up with a lovely orange scent. Of course, you need to keep your wits about you, otherwise after about an hour, and since I was no longer in the kitchen, I thought to myself, "gee, what's that citrus scent? Is the Husband brewing some of his orange tea? What *is* that?" then I realized, "HELLO, you're boiling 4 oranges in 8 cups of sugar..."

Once you've followed all the steps above it will be time to can! I can honestly say I had never canned anything before, and indeed I was never a fan of jelly jars-- specifically hating to eat at "Po'Folks" back in ATL as a kid because they served your drink in a jelly jar. Alas, feelings for jars aside, the Ball people seem to have the marked cornered on canning supplies. I had bought a 12 pack of Ball jars. After washing the jars you'll need to get them hot as in order for the jars to seal themselves both the glass jar and the contents need to be hot. The canning process turns out to be the one time it is good that our kitchen faucet puts out ridiculously hot water. I rinsed each jar thoroughly and (while holding it with an oven mitt) spooned marmalade into the jars... I made sure the marmalade was still at or around 220. Make sure to wipe down the mouth of the jar (so no marmalade is on the threads) and then seal tightly with your lid. Once the jars and marmalade cools a vacuum will be created and each jar will seal. I hadn't mentioned this to the Husband so he came into the kitchen and heard these popping sounds and wasn't quite sure what the heck was going on.

Marmalade will stay for up to a year sealed in the jar, once opened it needs to be refrigerated. For whatever reason (namely all the sugar?) once refrigerated the marmalade becomes rather stiff. When spreading after refrigeration you may want to pull the jar out of the fridge a bit before you're ready to use it so it can warm up to room temp and be easier to spread.

Leda asked whether we grew the oranges and lemons ourselves. Sadly, we didn't, but I am always mesmerized by the meyer lemon trees in the W-S catalogue. Just give me some time.

Moussaka!

On Wednesday we visited with Em and Max and Emily treated us to a lovely lunch from a local Mediterranean restaurant. I had moussaka which was *really* tasty. It was different from traditional moussaka in that it didn't have a bechemel sauce and it wasn't in a sort of stacked lasagna type format. It was eggplant in a very lovely ground beef sauce served over rice. I really enjoyed it, so I decided that I would try and make it myself for lunch on Friday.

Since the moussaka that I would be replicating didn't have bechemel I figured it would be pretty easy. Somehow or another I got a little off track.

I started with the meat sauce recipe that we used for pastitsio. I sauteed mire poix (the equivalent of one bag of pre-cut mire poix from Wegman's) in a little bit of olive oil, together with oregano and a bit of thyme. Once the carrots softened and the onions became translucent, I added one pound of ground beef to brown (breaking up the ground beef periodically so it is in very small bits). Once the ground beef browned I added one 14 oz. can of diced tomatoes, about half a small can of tomato paste, 1/4 of a cup of red wine, two bay leaves, salt, pepper, cinnamon and allspice (to taste). Then I let the meat sauce simmer for about 45 minutes. In the mean time I prepared my eggplant. I cut one large purple eggplant into disks, then cutting each disk into chunks. The eggplant chunks with seeds I tossed with kosher salt in a colander set to drain into a bowl. I left the eggplant chunks draining for about fifteen minutes, after which I rinsed them with water. Once the eggplant was ready I pan fried the chunks in a bit of olive oil until just golden brown. I then added the browned eggplant pieces to the meat sauce. (Now, all of that having been said, if I stopped at this point I would have been replicating the "not-too-traditional" moussaka from Wednesday, and it would have been accomplished in two pans and one pot (for rice)). But, can I stop here? Of course not. Now I decide, "well, maybe I'll go ahead and make the bechemel" Yeah, okay, that means dirtying two more pots. First I needed four tablespoons of butter melted, into that I whisked one cup of flour. While whisking, four cups of milk was heating in a separate pan, together with one bay leaf and a bit of all spice. Once the milk was heated I ladled in one ladleful of milk at a time to the flour/butter mixture, continuing to whisk. You may need to adjust the milk to flour/butter ratio to ensure that you have the right consistency. I prefer a bechemel that is less thick-- once you're happy with the bechemel, add grated Parmesan.

Now, at the time I had thought I'll just drizzle some of the bechemel over the moussaka... then I thought, "oh, gee, why not bake it in the oven?" So I set the oven to 350 degrees and got out one of my emile henry pans. I put one layer of meat/eggplant on the bottom of the pan and then drizzled over some of the bechemel, layered more of the meat/eggplant and then topped off with bechemel. Finally, I added some breadcrumbs on top. (You could melt some butter and toss the breadcrumbs in the butter and use that as the topping, but by this time I had used so many pots and pans I figured I would just use plain breadcrumbs!). I then baked the moussaka in the oven for about 20 minutes (until the moussaka was bubbly and golden on top). While the moussaka was baking I made some rice pilaf (out of a box, thanks to "Near East" foods....)


All in all I managed to use one large pan, one small fry pan, three pots, a colander, a big bowl and a baking dish. So much for a simple lunch.

Once the moussaka was done in the oven I let it stand for about 5-10 minutes and then served with the rice pilaf on the side. Good crusty bread or pita and some hummus would have been a great accompaniment. All in all it was pretty tasty, even if more complicated than the version which inspired it!

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Please, don't do it...

To the person from Charlotte who visited the blog after querying Ask.com "where can I find a reindeer car costume?" whatever you do, don't buy one. If you must I guess you can put a wreath on the grill of your car (truly only acceptable if you have some sort of monster SUV) but, please I beg you, on behalf of your vehicle, be discreet.

Sports Unfiltered.

I hate sports (except for the Tour). I love Dennis Miller. The Versus channel has recently unveiled "Sports Unfiltered" hosted by Dennis Miller-- a weekly sports commentary show. Unfortunately, I'm hooked.

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

Moreos...

The Husband had been taking care of Miss Baby and he stepped away from the baby for a moment to get her bottle from the bottle warmer. He left her on our bed (safely secured with a mountain of pillows around her, making only one mistake.... she was within grasping distance of our bag of oreos.) He comes back and apparently she had managed to snag an oreo out of the bag and was gumming it quite contentedly and did not want to relinquish said cookie. By the time I got upstairs I was told we needed to change out Miss B's onesie (as indeed it was covered with oreo dust) and upon further inspection Baby even had a small oreo mustache and telltale oreo dust underneath her fingernails. Ah, the draw of refined sugar is a powerful one.

Royale with Cheese

Okay, so I don't mean to be politically incorrect, but I have to make a statement. Food establishments should refrain from staffing the order taking/cashier positions with folks who haven't yet learned to speak english. If you want to hire people who are still mastering the language, try staffing non-customer related positions like food preparation, clean-up (of course, provided that other staff members can act as translators...) but it's kind of problematic for customers if you give your order to a person who doesn't understand what you're saying. If I wanted to teach an english as a second language course I'd volunteer at my local library, when I want to order a sandwich I'm not looking for it to be a learning experience for all involved.

Case in point, every time I go to the local Panera it's a crap shoot as to what I'm actually going to get. The first time I noticed this I was with the Husband and we each got only half of what we ordered. I got the soup I was supposed to get but my sandwich was entirely wrong, the Husband got his sandwich and it was correct but his soup order was left off. I went back with the Parents and this time we got the reciept with our order and then had to proceed to work with the manager of the place to actually establish what it was we ordered (confirming that indeed we didn't order four soups, one sandwich and a half sandwich (for three people), but three soups and two sandwiches.

Tonight things got even better. We went to Burger King (admittedly, our first mistake). We ordered a king size number 9 (chicken sandwich, king size fries, king size coke), a king size number 4 (whopper, jr. with cheese, no mayo, no pickle, no onion, no lettuce, king size fries, king size coke) and a medium onion ring.

What did we get in return? Upon our arrival home it turns out in the bag was one King Size fry, one King Size Onion Ring, a chicken sandwich and a double Whopper (no cheese) with mayo, lettuce, tomato, onion and pickles.

I'm 32 and I couldn't tell you the last time I ate a hamburger, let alone a double hamburger. Burgers are all about the cheese, indeed it's really the only reason to eat them. So there I am and my cut of this bag of goodies is a double whopper and a king size onion ring. If I didn't have a heart attack after that meal I guess I'll be good for the next 50 years. What's further disappointing is that I've never ordered a Whopper before, certainly not a double one. I've always stuck to the Whopper, jr. Just like at McDonald's in my youth I only ever used to order the quarter pounder (with cheese). Then there was a long stretch where I wouldn't eat any meat so it was only McNuggets, then (since pregnancy, mostly) my burger order at McDonald's has been demoted down to just a regular cheeseburger. I have to say that I always envisioned that if I went for the giant burger it would be a Big Mac. (While Burger King's fries are very tasty, I'll always be a McDonald's loyalist).

"Big Mac is a Big Mac, but they call it Le Big Mac."
"Le Big Mac.... what do they call a Whopper?"
"I don't know, I didn't go into a Burger King."

Monday, December 03, 2007

Well, I do have a plane...

We didn't think it could get any better! Okay, so the Husband and I are total geeks. As everyone who reads this blog already knows we've seen the Code a bazillion times and counting. Finally when it seemed like STARZ! was going to potentially stop showing it (with almost Law&Orderian frequency) we even used up precious BestBuy rewards points to buy it on DVD. We watched the DVD, we even watched all of the extras, but nothing could compare to this.... last night I was up late working on Loan Documents and nothing good was on tv. I decided to order up The Code on Starz! on demand. So I've got it on in the background and early on I thought I heard Alfred Molina deliver a line somewhat differently than normal (because after all, we've seen it so many times we know all the lines).... then a while later the Husband starts watching and he notices new scenes. Yup, that's right. Starz! has some sort of "Choice Cut" director's cut edition with almost 25 extra minutes of deleted scenes. It was like watching a whole new movie! Things are explained, lines now make sense, Tom Hanks' acting is still bad, but what ho! It was a lot of fun!

Sunday, December 02, 2007

Ironically,

during Austro-Hungarian week we've had a visit to the blog from someone in Budapest. However, they were, as usual, looking for "Sting's Favorite Pasta."