Archive for February, 2011

clip: libation inspiration, oscars edition

February 23, 2011

Academy Awards are this Sunday! Just another good excuse to booze on a school night. Need thematic drink ideas? Of course you do. Libation Inspiration: Oscars

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in other riveting news

February 22, 2011

And when I say riveting, this description very likely applies solely to me and to me alone, but this is a matter of such circumstance (to me) that I can’t not share it.

New. Faucet.

heaven is an arced faucet

I am flustered by the fact that I cannot help you, dear reader, to better appreciate this new striking improvement, as it appears I don’t have an image of the previous faucet, which can be likened only to a leaky nub of a rotting sheath of metal with two settings: off and haywire sprinkler system.

My deepest gratitude to B’s dad, whose deft plumbing skills made this beautiful thing happen. Never will I enjoy washing dishes more than in the coming days until the novelty wears off.

what’s slow-cookin’: roast chicken with sweet potatoes and spinach

February 21, 2011

One of the joys of a slow cooker is the notion that it’s the easiest form of cooking, a variation of the one-pot meal. Yet I hadn’t truly made a one-pot Crock Pot meal until yesterday. Not only was this slow cooker recipe a success, I played enough with a variety of basic recipes to call this one my own!

Thus far, I’d only toyed with various chicken and fish recipes. (I eat only poultry and seafood; yes, I’ve been told I’m “missing out” on beef and rib recipes. I’ll live.) So my goal was to start throwing the vegetables in once I got the basics down, rather than saving that work for the evening. A friend confirmed that potatoes hold up well, so I figured they’d be a safe starting point.

Nutmeg and sugar are my favorite additions for sweet potatoes, and they gave the whole dish a subtle nuttiness that tasted so flavorful and rich. Sweet + savory =

Take note: Most of the numbers below are an estimate, as I sort of eyeballed all the portions along the way. For this recipe, specific amounts aren’t essential to repeating it with success.

Roast Chicken with Sweet Potatoes & Spinach

1 3-4 lb. whole chicken, skin removed
2-3 large sweet potatoes (or
yams), chopped into bite-size pieces
5-8 oz. spinach (a few handfuls oughta do it)
3 carrots, peeled and sliced
1 onion, quartered
3 garlic cloves, crushed
¼ cup chicken broth (I used a half cup, but it seemed more than necessary considering the chicken juices)
1 Tbsp olive oil
1 tsp paprika
½ tsp pepper
½ tsp salt
½ tsp nutmeg
½ tsp sugar or sweetener

  1. Throw all your chopped taters and carrots and about two-thirds of the onion into the slow cooker (mine’s a 6-quart). Add the sugar, nutmeg, and olive oil, and stir until evenly coated. Add the spinach in a layer on top of the veggie mix.
  2. Stuff the chicken cavity with the remaining onion and garlic cloves. Set it on top of the spinach layer, and rub the paprika, salt, and pepper on the chicken. Pour the broth over the chicken.
  3. Cover, and cook on High for 1 hour, then Low for 8 hours.

B and I shared hearty portions, and we’ve got loads left over, so this should feed 4 or 5 people comfortably. The gent was adamant about saving the slightly sweet broth (which we could eat with a spoon, it was so yummy); I’m thinking it’ll go very nicely over some brown rice or Israeli couscous for round two of this dinner.

Drool rating: 5 out of 5. mmm.

only tourists use umbrellas

February 19, 2011

The gentle patter of rain came as no surprise on this trip. We were, after all, in the Pacific Northwest. And this anticipated weather was of little consequence in planning the venture to Portland. We’ve grown accustomed to weekly snowstorms and a failed system of plows and snow dunes in New York, not to mention temperatures that danced between single and double digits. So a little rain would hardly damper our exploration of this charming interpretation of a modern city.

Plus, we had umbrellas.

… Much to the amused chagrin of our host, B’s recently transplanted cousin. “Only tourists use umbrellas,” he smirked, shaking his head apologetically (pityingly?). Evidently it rains so much that the denizens grow weary of carrying the protective gear, or perhaps the weariness was in their arms. Insiders rock hooded rain jackets. And though the rain managed to rank as relatively mild on a scale of Spitting to Monsoon, few even bothered to put on a hood, let alone open an umbrella. I even saw one woman continue to read her paperback without a flinch as the drops grew heavier and more frequent while she waited in line at one of the ubiquitous food carts. Even the page she read seemed to defy the elements, not soaking up a single droplet.

Fortunately the weather (and my dowdy umbrella usage) has little effect on our pleasure-seeking adventures. Food was abundant and delightful. though, one rather surprising observation I made: As far as meat offerings go, food establishments are all or nothing; if you want vegan, vegetarian or even simply one meat on your plate, go to a vegan joint. Every dish everywhere else will include ham bits. No exceptions. No substitutes.) Other quick notes:

  • Broder for brunch. Hands down.
  • Gravy = overrated.
  • BarBar: decor, music, crowd. Thumbs up all around.
  • Valentine’s: for a mellow, cute, hipster bar downtown.

baked eggs and trout with hash and walnut bread ::drool::

dump truck. i've had better.

We did happen to catch a sock-drying moment of sunshine.

And in response to your final inquiry: old-fashioned maple.

line-free till 9am!

 

ugly duckling syndrome

February 9, 2011

UPDATE: A tragic requiem to the short but glorious life of this little fleur douce. A burst of life from a beer bottle … and now back to just a beer bottle. Ye shall be missed, and may the leaves that bloom henceforth sing your praises.

I’ve been asking B ever since we moved in together what’s going on with this Frankenstein of a plant. Yes, that’s a bona fide, possible frat-house relic, the illustrious plant-in-a-beer-bottle. He was entrusted by a friend to care for this mother plant, from which has apparently spawned some other baby plants of whose location I have no knowledge. Said friend went gallivanting about the U.S. for many months and would be reunited with Mama Plant upon his return.

Friend returned, Mama Plant remains. I’ve scowled at its daily presence, wishing for a more enchanting decoration to grace the bedroom. Until this evening, when I brushed it scurrying by, and noticed this.

Touché, Mama Plant. Touché. I humble myself before your precious floret.

a complex recipe to match that complex craft

February 7, 2011

I don’t often find myself with reason to make a heaping serving of breakfast food, but hosting a friend and her fella in town this weekend gave me the perfect opportunity to try this breakfast casserole, a.k.a. egg strata. I modified it ever so slightly (swapping pancetta for sun-dried-tomato chicken sausage, whole milk for skim, and skipping the mustard altogether).

Utterly delectable, perfect with a side of arugula salad. And so nice being able to wake up and do nothing but throw the Pyrex in the oven and ask the gent to make some coffee (I always manage to water it down too much).

As for that arugula salad, I’m an avid supporter of aggressive simplicity. This salad feels fancy with zero effort:

deconstruction

Arugula Salad with Cherry Tomatoes and Sea Salt

Prep time: A minute or so

Feeds: You, and others, as you wish

  • Arugula
  • Cherry/Grape/Tiny tomatoes, halved
  • Dash or 2 of Fleur de Sel (or any sea salt of your liking)
  • Sweet Poppyseed dressing (I’m a huge fan of the Brianna’s and Trader Joe’s varieties)

Instructions? Mix the ingredients in your favorite salad bowl. Enjoy. Sweet, salty, nutty, crunchy, chewy, nom nom nom.

for the faint of craft

February 5, 2011

Crafting is not an activity that has been a big part of my life. I dropped out of Girl Scouts at age 8. My sewing skills are limited to button reassignment. And I lack the obligatory colorful, joyful bin of “scraps” and “supplies” to “create” to my heart’s content.

So allow me to have a wee bit of pride in my first pseudo-crafty activity, which is certifiably the easiest craft in the world of creative mix’n’match. I made a magnet.

Science also not being my thing (though I find it fascinating in its mystifying complexities), I do not mean I literally made a magnet. I ventured downtown to enter the only legitimate craft store of which I know in the city (seriously, is Pearl the only craft store in New York?), bought some lovely simply little circular black magnets, and trotted on home.

Rather, I spruced up a magnetcan I say I craftied it?with a darling little ceramic work of art that my cousin hand-painted and gifted me on a birthday so many years ago. I love this little piece and have no idea how I haven’t lost or broken it over the years. It’s far too small for standard presentation (hanging, propping upright on a shelf) so one day I had realized it would make a darling magnet.

Magnets fresh in hand, crazy glue among my paltry supplies, I got to gluing.

And a new contributor now joins the commemorative fridge wall.

fun fact: the illustration is of my dad's family's villa outside of budapest. it's oozing as much old-world charm as one can fit into an enchantingly dilapidated central european country home.