Monday, December 15, 2008
The other day, P and I were visiting our favorite local market and oohing and ahhing over their fish counter. In the past, their interesting selection has inspired me to cook new fish, and try out new techniques. On this particular day, I saw several silvery trout laid out on the ice among the various filets and shellfish. I decided that since I am really a true cook now, who respects and appreciates food and where it comes from, that cooking up a whole fish would yield a beautiful and satisfying meal. Something that looked like this or, better yet, this.
As scheduling would have it, P had to go out of town, so I was left to prepare my fish by myself this evening. What an opportunity! I thought. I can perfect my whole fish roasting technique and impress my husband when he returns from his trip! I decided to cook my fish en papillote stuff it with fresh herbs from the AeroGarden, splash it with some white wine, olive oil, and sprinkle S&P.
I gleefully picked my neat paper package of trout from the fridge, and prepared to rinse it and get cooking. I unrolled the paper and --
Good God. I couldn't for the life of me bring myself to touch the fish. It's eyes! Its tiny teeth! I steeled myself, reached over to pick it up, promptly dropped it. Squealed. Poked it with one finger. Closed my eyes. Called a friend who distracted me while I finally got it rinsed and back onto the parchment paper.
There! Hard part over. The fish was filleted and open so now was unable to gaze into its eyes as I laid out the various herbs, lemon, S&P, wine, olive oil. I realized I had a few more steps I needed to do so should probably stash the fish in the fridge while I finished up. Trouble was, the fridge was kind of full, and I precariously perched the pan with my fish on the bottom shelf, only to have it suddenly slide out the open door and land fish first on the floor. Gaaaah! The parchement paper covered the body, but his little fishy head was peeking out at me accusingly, and at an odd angle from under the refridgerator.
Quick text to Pete:
Call when you can. There has been an incident with the fish.
Well, that's it, I thought. End of fish fight. But, no. That would be a waste and counter to the whole impetus behind the idea of cooking a whole fish to appreciate where my food comes from yadda yadda yadda. If I simply threw out the fish, that would be a horrible waste. I decided to just give him another quick rinse and start again.
Unfortunately (unfortunately for the fish), when I went to shower him off, those accusing eyes were staring at me. I kept thinking I heard him making little gurgling noises. So, I did the only thing there was to do: I cut his head off. Ew ew ew. There is now a fish head in a plastic bag hanging from the doorknob of my front door (See? Not lovely).
Now, confronted with the more familiar looking headless version of trout, I reassembled my ingredients, drizzled with some wine (then poured a glass for myself), tied up the parchment and popped it in the oven.
I must say, this fish is delicious. It's so summery and Mediterranean from the rosemary/thyme/lemon. Most importantly, it is not looking at me. No, wait -- most importantly, I did not waste my fish and I now feel I have fufilled my need to demonstrate my accountability for what I eat. Sometimes a fillet is just fine.
Back to lovely next time.
Saturday, December 13, 2008
Deck the halls with heads of Lenin...
Guess who this ornament belongs to?
[Hint: the one with the Eastern Europe fetish]
Continuing in the holiday vein, P and I picked up our Christmas tree the other evening. With our new (still shiny) car, we were able to easily and quickly aquire a rather large tree (don't scratch it, don't scratch, don't get sap in it, needles don't fall off!). The car is still quite clean due to P's good thinking and massive plastic drop cloth.
The final process was a bit more extended than it has been in the past:Day 1: put tree in stand.
Day 2: put lights on tree. Drink eggnog.
Day 3: put ornaments on tree. Drink 1/2 glass eggnog each due to prior night's eggnog consumption.
I remember always wanting the biggest tree possible as a kid, and was momentarily concerned that the tree we had chosen this year (P are you sure it's big enough?) would take up our entire tiny living room. However, with some smart furniture adjustments, all is right in the living room.
Decorating on Day 3 was a fun trip down memory lane. My mother has given each of the kids an ornament every year, and has meticulously recorded the year of giving on each one. It's been nice to have another collection started (although we have some bare spots). Here are some favorites (in addition to the Lenin ornament).
VT pewter from P's parents...
Now historic Marshall Fields ornament
from Aunt Mar & Uncle Stu...
Ornament P & I picked up in Waitsfield, VT...
P's gift to me last year -- my power animal...
Wednesday, December 10, 2008
A friend just sent me a quick video that pretty much sums up my feelings right now:
It is gray and rainy here. Not charming, BUT it would be charming if we were in London. I want to wear a scarf everywhere. I want to "take away" my "to go," and I want to speak French. In a park. To P, who would be drinking wine and wearing slightly pointy shoes...
Monday, December 8, 2008
I'm back! It was a whirlwind trip to London, but I tried to make the most of my free time. I made it to Fortnum and Mason for my hamper fix, had a pint, and squeezed in an early evening double-decker bus tour. Let me say that only the foolhardy will ride around London on the open air upper deck of a tour bus in December. I am one of those fools.
Actually, I didn't warm up for about 2 hours afterwards, but check out the fantastic photography that resulted from my birdseye view:
Um, yeah. A little psychedelic, no? At least I managed to make it to the general proximity of the Tower of London... Baby steps...
Very nice trip, but glad to be home.
Thursday, December 4, 2008
Trafalgar Square by camera phone...
Wednesday, November 26, 2008
Imagine Marky Mark's Funky Bunch all doing yoga in their Calvin Klein's without the low-slung jeans. Some wear super short boxer briefs. Other's wear tight, knee-length undies. The women wear similiar looking tighties, but over strange 90's style white bustier/leotards. BRYAN, however, is like Yogi Marky Mark, and walks among the undies with his own Yoga Klein's visible both above and below his cut-off jean shorts. Huh? It kind of reminded me of Tobias when he was struggling with being a Never Nude.
This is the only yoga routine that I have ever had to stop doing a pose for because I was laughing so hard that I fell over. This is the only yoga personality who I think can get away with saying things like: "Don't freak out, just hang out in the pose." This is also the only yoga video that made me say, s#$%, I can't do that.
Today, I am sore. A+, Bryan Kest. A+.
Tuesday, November 25, 2008
Pete recently mentioned to me that he was surprised that I have not yet started the Holiday Anticipation Series this year. Consider this your intro: H.A.S. 2008 is on....
C's version introduced me to the perfect way to spend the 3pm hour... Thanks, C! Couldn't resist...
Which means, I really, really needed an emergency meal this past Sunday morning. Er, ok, it was actually already afternoon.
Awhile back, I was inspired by this post, and have made several delicious impromtu tartines out of whatever happened to be around that day. Sunday, however, fell after two weeks of P's constant travel to random places for work, and me eating Trader Joe's potstickers every night. [Note: the chicken potstickers are not as savory and delicious as the pork potstickers.] I had eaten myself out of every immediately preparable food item, and many staples as well. Thank goodness I had some random hunks of bread lying around.
And, 2 shallots left hiding in the cabinet...
And, some fig jam, which was delicious this summer...
...And way in the back of the cheese drawer, a container of bleu cheese crumbles.
Caramelized the shallots, toasted the bread, topped with jam, cheese, shallots, popped under broiler, et voila: Food in hand, I was back to my old self.
Clearly this means I am still very open to any emergeny meal recommendations you might have, for REAL emergencies... (Well, not like stranded in the wilderness emergencies, but like very, very hungry emergiencies.)
Monday, November 24, 2008
Well, friends and family, Pete and I bit the bullet. We are now the proud owners of something very shiny. We just look at it out the window.
And then I say: "Oooh. Shiny."
Then, Pete says: "I wonder if we could get a better parking space. I think I see one 5 feet closer to the building."
Then, I say: "Shiny."
The bad economy is good for something...
Monday, November 10, 2008
On Saturday, Pete and I took the #1 bus down to Symphony Hall to get some culture. This evening's concert was a presentation of Carmina Burana. The first half was performed by a medieval music ensemble in the way the poems might have been performed in the 1200s. The second half was the entirity of the breathtaking piece by Carl Orff.
I love going to Symphony Hall because it reminds me of NYC outings to Lincoln Center when I was little. It is civilized and you have to get dressed up. Upon arrival, Pete and I had an uncivilized 10-minute glass of wine before heading to our seats. I actually splurged for the first balcony this time, and boy does it make a difference! I didn't used to think so, but it's so much more interesting when you can see stuff!
The other reason it was important to have good seats was so we could read the supertitles projected above the performers. You can see some translated lyrics of O Fortuna by clicking below.
Alternately, you can just make up your own meaning:
O Fortuna, velut luna!
I was exhausted by the end, and we stumbled out the door to board the 1 bus back home. Taking the bus after a fancy outing is kind of a bummer, but lots of hoity toity Bostonians were on it too so that made me feel pretty good.
Until next time, give me cookies! Give me a hot po-ta-to!
Sunday, November 9, 2008
On Friday, I was lucky to meet up with M in NYC during my lightening quick work trip. We originally planned to head downtown to grab a bite and have a few drinks, but changed our minds after accidentally wandering through the back door of this place.
I know I'm revealing my provincial Boston viewpoint right now, but I was like, WOW! I've never seen such a freakin' big buffet! It's all Japanesey and weird and bright and loud! I've since learned that the "super buffet" is actually the category this restaurant falls into. Without much thought to the freshness of buffet sashimi and the likes, M and I decided to try it out simply for the experience.
The super buffet was American-Excess meets every Japanese restaurant there is and then throws the zen out the window. There were literally mounds of crab legs, you could pile your plate with oysters the size of my hand, choose from multiple whole fish dishes, sashimi, sushi, soup --before I go on, just take a look at the menu.
I don't really remember how the food actually was, but it was definitely interesting. More interesting was when we tried to leave the way we came in and were informed that we could not because "that door is for garbage." We finally convinced them that we were worthy of the garbage door and headed back to my hotel...
Thanks for the visit, M!
Monday, November 3, 2008
On Halloween, Pete and I did something new -- we went on a Haunted Tour. Lucky for us, it was a warm and breezy evening; the kind of Halloween all children of the NoCo dream of, yet seldom experience. It was a great night to wander the city on foot.
My overall review of the tour would be thumbs up. It wasn't scary, but I learned a lot of cool things about Boston (where the Athenaeum is located), and some freaky stuff (there are bodies buried pretty much everywhere on Boston Common). We also happened to run into yet another filming of this movie. Mel Gibson, I can't escape you...
Perhaps my next something new will be to go visit the Athenaeum, or look at the cursed figurehead in the old city hall, or maybe find a book about Boson's history. Good idea, Pete!
PS - The photo above is of the Central Burying Ground on Boston Common. From the vantage point we shot the picture, apparently one often sees orbs hovering around the headstones. Mwahahahaha!
Thursday, October 30, 2008
I've just quit my gym. I haven't been going, but I felt like having a membership and not going was better than not having a membership and not having the option of going. I know, I know. It made sense on some level. So, yes, I've parted ways with my gorgeous expensive gym, its fun classes, and its beautiful sauna because I am lazy.
Not lazy, exactly. The gym route just wasn't working for me anymore for a variety of reasons. I have some classes and a few other ideas lined up to keep me in shape, but I'd really like to work out at home. The only problem is that I live in an apartment building and have above and below neighbors who, I imagine, would not be thrilled with a regular kick-boxing routine, jumping jacks, running in place, etc.
Can you recommend some good/fun exercise ideas or DVDs that are quiet enough not to disrupt my neighbors...?
Wednesday, October 29, 2008
Just a quick note to let you know that I followed my rules for my first week of keeping busy. I admit -- my Saturday outing was just to the store to pick up some ingredients for dinner, but it was raining. Thanks to Pete for making sure I didn't fall off the wagon with my first test. I came this close to not setting foot outside.
Friday dinner was delightful, Sunday brunch with C at a new restaurant was lovely, and our walk following brunch led us to inadvertent participation in a parade of costumed dogs led by the Salem High School Marching Band.... Well, that's something new! Court, forgot to tell you that I have confirmed the parade was, in fact, the 4th Annual Divas Unleashed Halloween Pet Parade.
Lots of Halloweeny plans are in the works. Can't wait to reveal the ingenious costume that P and I came up with! Anyone have a good costume this year?
Thursday, October 23, 2008
I am not quite so ambitious, but would like to lay out the following guidelines semi-publicly so you can keep me in line and make sure I'm sticking with the plan. Rules are simple:
- Do something besides go straight home after work at least once a week (to start).
- Leave the apartment at least one time a day, each day of the weekend. No more pj-all-day days except in the case of: blizzard, sub zero temperatures, drenching rain, sickness. I must have some caveats.
- Write a weekly post about my "something new."
We'll see how this goes. So far, so good. Last night, I went to hear Senator Kerry speak. Tomorrow night Pete and I will have dinner with Amy and Carter. This means I have a Saturday and Sunday outing to come up with still....
Working on it.
Friday, October 17, 2008
I don't follow any sort of recipe, but just throw in whatever I feel like. Today I have some cloves, cinnamon stick, bay leaf, dried orange zest, and a piece of my precious and very expensive vanilla beans simmering about on the stove. I do have some co-op mulling mix that I scoop into a tea ball and drop in the pot.
Bring to a boil, then turn down and simmer for 30 minutes or so. I have a cinnamon stick all ready and waiting in mugs for me and P (when he gets home).
PS - I hear you can spike your cider, but I wouldn't know...
PPS - mulled wine is a whole other post and delicious drunk while sitting on a cushion under your Christmas tree...
PPPS - What else could I throw in to mull? Whole allspice?
Sunday, October 12, 2008
Sunday, October 5, 2008
K among the apples...
On Saturday, Pete and I headed first to Scituate to have one of Ryan's famous sandwiches, and then to go apple picking a short car ride away. It was a perfect fall day with brilliant blue skies and puffy white clouds. We ate lunch on T&R's back deck while listening to the wind rustle the fall leaves on the trees. R made one of his delicious salads (in which he included sesame seeds), and an even better sandwich of tuna salad (with the perfect amount of mayo and delicious sun-dried tomatoes) topped by alphalpha on a fantastic and hearty multi-grain roll. T and I sipped a chilly gerwerstraminer (note: this is the first time I have ever actually written out "gerwerstraminer." I had to look up the spelling.)
The orchard was hopping. P's quick thinking secured us a picking stick right away -- a very valuable commodity we were later to discover. It's a good thing, too, because P was the tallest among us and therefore did most of the work. He was also the best at deterring the swarms of zombie apple picking moms/dads/kids who repeatedly tried to commandeer our stick. It was brutal out there, but we prevailed with a 1/2 peck each plus 1/2 dozen or so eaten along the way (K single-handedly ate at least 4).
In the orchard...
After picking, we made an impromptu stop at my boss's house where he and his wife were hosting a birthday party for their daughter. We identified their house by the huge inflatable jumping castle in the back yard.
I anticipated stopping in for one beer, but suddenly P&R were playing two rounds of bocce, T, tiny K and I were playing in the back yard and sipping wine with the family and friends at the party, and we even stayed for dinner. It was such an unexpected, but fun way to end the day.
Today, I am left to deal with my 1/2 peck of apples. As I've said before, I'm a cook, but not a baker, so think I will make an easy apple crisp. Pehaps we'll break out some port this evening or mull some cider, as fall had definitely arrived...
Friday, October 3, 2008
I was all set to make the curried green tomatoes, and T was thinking about the green tomato cake, when I caved and just made up a huge batch of miniature fried green tomatoes.
Thanks, T! Can't wait to see you for apple picking tomorrow!
Sunday, September 28, 2008
Saturday, September 27, 2008
The past two days have been dark and rainy. Just the kind of day I despise in March and April (and May, June, July, August), but today I have been enjoying the onset of new pleasures that come with the change of season.
I wore my favorite black cashmere turtleneck for the first time yesterday. I slept in plaid, flannel pajamas. I have started making large batches of chili, spaghetti sauce and meatballs, and drinking big warm red wines. There is a whole new season of produce to explore. I curled up on the couch to watch PBS, and will watch Casablanca tonight while sipping a gin martini. Fleece pants, new episodes of television, fall candles, apple picking, pumpkins, new chocolate brown sheets, down blankets with the windows still open a crack, knee-high boots, fuzzy socks, mulled cider, Halloween, my mother's birthday, crunchy leaves, the smell of wood stoves, scarves, and hot tea are all in season.
Off to simmer my sauce....
At long last, it is time to post a quick update on my wonderful weekend visit from C. The above photo is swiped from the lovely DA's facebook page and is from a night on the town to celebrate D's birthday. It was one of those nights where you plan to go out, but you're having so much fun hanging out at someone's apartment, that by the time you are ready to actually do the going out part, the number of places you can actually get into has gone down drastically. This does not happen to me often as I: A) do not go out late at night, and B) usually only do so in the summer (a.k.a. "Leah Season").
As a result, we ended up out on "just out of college row" at a place called Lir. When I first moved to Boston it was called McCarthy's, which always reminded me of eating cinnamon buns in Canton rather than drinking beer in a meat market. Better than that, we set up court in the basement, which was "more mellow," which meant that there was space available for drunk hoochies to swirl around in circles to remixes of Umbrella, and no top-shelf liquor was served. Wow, I swear that was never me. Being, ahem, almost 30 made me feel pretty good about myself at that moment. BUT - it was still really fun to hang out with friends old and new, and observe the ancient mating rituals of white, east-coast early-20 somethings...
Last time I was out in this area I remember:
- Ending up in the cross-fire of a fratboy bar fight.
- Being at a place that had one of those machines where you manipulate a claw to get a prize, and in this case the prizes were live lobsters...
Luckily, C and I had offset this experience by spending a very refined afternoon sipping champagne and drinking tea, and being very glad that our friends are not like the loud, drunk and possibly loud, drunk AND pregnant ladies that were next to us. I'm a lucky gal to have such great friends...
Looking forward to visiting you in VA soon, C!
Friday, September 19, 2008
I went to CVS this morning on the way to work. That CVS smells like every other CVS I've ever been in. I can't really identify the components of the smell -- it's not particularly good, not particularly bad, but somehow has just become so familiar that is has a bit of a calming effect on me. I am immediately grounded in the "now" of "I have entered CVS," as opposed to lost in all the millions of things that are usually going on all at once up there.
Maybe CVS pumps in their CVS fragrance the way that Cinnabon and McDonald's do. Maybe it's just me...?
Monday, September 8, 2008
I always try to send you a little mental note every time I reflect on something wonderful that you have created. I'm not being funny, but I'd really like to thank you for Trader Joe's, and especially for Trader Joe's Pork Gyoza Potstickers. They have kept me company every night since my husband went to South America. I have three bags, so I think if I pace myself they will last the rest of the trip.
They are so savory and delicious, and best of all, so easy to prepare. I like to make a soy sauce, sesame oil, and garlic dipping sauce for them. The serving size is 6, but I ate 9 tonight because maybe I read the bag upside down.
I would also like to offer my sincere appreciation for Trader Joe's Lime Fruit Floes. They are delicious and a good substitute for a cocktail when I'm trying to be good. I have the Carribbean Fruit flavor lined up next, as I only have one Lime Fruit Floe left after tonight.
Thank you. Thank you for Trader Joe and for his amazing dumplings.
PS - (...and for fruit floes, frozen creme brulee with rasberries, wide selection of cheese and meat, inexpensive wine, dried chili mango slices, crystalized ginger pieces, excellent frozen emergency appetizers, garlic-stuffed olives, jambalaya in a bag, unbeatable prices, and friendly customer service)
PPS - The Fruit Floes are gluten free.
On Saturday, P and I found ourselves at South Station on our way to Providence, RI. It was especially difficult to maneuver around the station that day because Mel Gibson and Robert DeNiro were shooting a movie there. Ever since the teamsters reorganized (or something like that) Boston has been a popular city to film in. This one is called Edge of Darkness (as you can tell from Mel's chair).
I was much more interested to see DeNiro, but couldn't spot him in the crowd. Had to make do with these mediocre shots of Mel Gibson's back, taken one-handed while munching a slice of Pizzeria Regina's Sicilian with fresh tomatoes.
Monday, September 1, 2008
I admit that the title of this post is not lovely, but darnit if it's not funny. I could have started off with impressionistic photos of lighthouses, but didn't want to lull my few, kind readers into complacency: believe it or not, I don't spend every minute of my life lolling in the grass wearing a poofy dress, sipping champagne (although I do that as much as possible).
Pete and I were determined to make the most of this last "summer" weekend. Labor Day imparts so much pressure to get in all the summer stuff you didn't have time for in June, July, or much of August. Last week we had our Esplanade picnic, this week we went to a satifying summer blockbuster, went down town to wander the harbor and North End, ate lots and lots of seafood, and finally venuted to Boston's Harbor Islands. Spectacle and George's Islands to be exact.
I'll spare you a sunny rambling summary of tall grasses waving in the breeze, miles of trails, beautiful views, and the soft clanging of buoys in the distance and just say this: George's Island has an awesome fort, and I love me a good fort.
I wish we had had more time at Fort Warren because you can almost literally go anywhere in the fort. There is nothing roped off so you can head your stupid self down tiny, twisty staircases, down dark endless stone halls, and stand precariously close to very far drops. Thrilling!
All this exploring and history learning makes a girl hungry. At first we had planned to head home to cook up some fish to stick with our nautical theme, but then realized upon setting foot on shore, that we were so close to...
I will not go in to detail besides to list everything we ate/drank:
Dark 'n' Stormy(s), Jonah Crab Claws, fried oyster po' boy, lobster roll, key lime pie.
Take that Labor Day! We kicked your summer-killing bum!
Sunday, August 24, 2008
On one of the last summer Sundays of the year, P & I finally took advantage of our own city. We packed up some farmers market melon, brie, fig jam, baguette, and a cleverly camoflauged bottle of rose and headed to the Esplanade for a picnic.
We hopped off the train after three stops and strolled along the park, out to the island and picked a shady spot under some willow trees overlooking the sailing teams slicing by, and novice boaters getting used to the water.
There were lots of puppies, bicycles, joggers, and lazy picnicers sprawled out under the trees, or soaking in the sun.
I consider any day not at work (vacation/personal/weekend) a wonderfully lucky day. I do not need to give it a special term.