Sunday, February 28, 2010

Linguine and sausage

My foray into the kitchen continued, this time with a meal built around whole wheat linguine and sausage.The original was going to be a mushroom and dried tomato mix, but Antonia offered me some fresh Italian sausage from her dinner of the previous evening. She had picked it up at Belmont Butchery, so of course I had to use it.

The meal went together pretty quickly, and the timing was not too bad. The most fun was shoving the tenderized fennel to the edges of the skillet to make a crater, then sauteing in the middle some oil, garlic, and red pepper flakes. I wanted to use a recipe from Karen's cast iron cookbook, so I did a simple sauteed zucchini dish, tossed in a Parmesan and garlic mixture.

There were two major mistakes with this meal. The first was a result of me not paying attention enough to the recipe, and when it came time to prepare the spinach salad I just dumped the oil and minced shallot on the leaves before I realized I was supposed to be sauteing them. I had to pick everything out to try and salvage things. The other issue I had was with timing. I got everything ready pretty much at the same time, but that meant the salad just stood and waited for us to get through the rest of the meal. Next time I will try serving and eating in stages, saving the final prep work on a dish until right before we eat it. It will interrupt the meal more, but the quality should be better.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

We resolve to babysit in Minnesota!

John's first Valentine's Day present was a 110-piece puzzle that he had to put together:

It features names of people and places that we will visit when we travel to Minneapolis/St. Paul in May! Yay! It took John exactly two hours and ten minutes to put this Wordle picture puzzle together.

Next John opened something which pertains to this blog. "Trashy Girl"--a promise from me to get rid of clutter and items we don't need, on a daily basis, in a public manner. That's right ... you, the reader, get to see the results! One item per day gets put in the Goodwill, Trash, or Consignment pile; these piles will be photographed weekly. Here is just some of our trash:

As far as last week, I got to bed on time for only one of my two work-nights. I got to the gym only twice, but I did shovel some snow ...

Monday, February 8, 2010

From the one who washes dishes

It was worth it!
(and this wasn't all the dishes, by any means)

Bleeting of the lambs

Darien ordered two lamb loin chops through our winter CSA, Fall Line Farms. Although they were small cuts of meat, I decided to build my meal around them. I selected dishes and ingredients that reminded of Mediterranean cultures. The lamb chops themselves were browned and then cooked in a mixture of chopped tomatoes, onions, garlic, chopped kalamata olives, onions, red wine, rosemary, and parsley. The other main dish was a rice pilaf, but instead of making it the way Darien usually does with vermicelli, I added currants and toasted pine nuts, spiced up with cinnamon and turmeric. Darien suggested that for the liquid I use her homemade vegetable broth, which she has begun making by tossing all of her leftover odds and ends into a pot for boiling, and then freezing the mixture. It gave the pilaf a more flavorful, richer taste.

For my vegetable, I roasted asparagus. What made this special was a balsamic vinegar reduction, which was very easy to make. I dribbled on the reduction after roasting the spears, then followed with some virgin olive oil and grated Parmesan cheese.

Finally, I made a spinach salad with fresh white mushrooms. The recipe called for stale bread, which  I didn't have, but found I could pop some bread in a low heat oven and get a similar effect. I fried the bread in hot olive oil to make my croutons, then used the remnants of the oil to saute some minced garlic and whisked in the juice from two fresh lemons for the dressing.

I had most of the ingredients on hand, so I had little shopping to do for this meal. I thought the different dishes worked well together. No part was in itself difficult, but keeping everything going and on schedule was a two hour trial. For such a meal as this, a larger stove would have been helpful. I feel sorry for the one who had to wash dishes after dinner.

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Darien flees from week 5

I blame it on the snow. Why the **** should I go to bed early when I don't have to go to work? My precisely calculated statistics show a trend toward staying up late this week. As a matter of fact, I got to bed by 11 just one work night. On the other hand, I only had one work night! If I'm lucky this trend will continue into next week ... snow snow snow snow snow snow ...  

On the exercise front I didn't do too well either: I made it to the gym just 3 days, and John did most of the snow shoveling.

Monday, February 1, 2010

Weeks 3 & 4 check in -- Antonia and Jonathan

Antonia -- yes!

Jonathan -- Here's a few things that he's done to man up/grow up this week . . .

  • Removed all vestiges of his childhood from his parents house (well, maybe not ALL, but everything that his mom isn't saving for grandchildren). It was a fraught weekend, and he was brutal in his commitment to getting rid of stuff (childhood stuffed animals, yearbooks, old art projects, photographs). The downside is now we have an absurd amount of Star Wars figures in our basement. Oh and did I mention the 6 foot tall Darth Vader cardboard cutout?
  • Took apart the gas fireplace and followed the hazy instructions on how to re-position the logs.
  • Drove our friends' van in the snow. I think this was his first snow-driving experience.