Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Latke Rock

Yesterday's lack of entry can be blamed to one thing and one thing only . . .

I finally got around to getting to UPS to pick up our Christmas present from Jen's family. So instead of posting about our dinner, we spend the evening making a band called "Unicorn Babies" and gaining 156 fans! It's amazing how we were able to gain that many fans by repeatedly flubbing our way through L7's "Pretend We're Dead." All my previous life experience would lead me to believe that that would have the opposite effect.

However, we did need to eat so I very quickly boiled some fettuccine, threw in some chicken sausages from the freezer, and threw in some frozen spinach. With a couple of tablespoons of Seggiano's Raw Basil Pesto it made a yummy dinner that we were able to quickly scarf down.

Today, after work, I made my way to UPS again to pick up my new camera which I ordered with generous gift certificates and cash from Jen's family, my family, and myself.

I quickly whipped up a salad with marinated anchovies, lemon, and sunchokes then took about fifty pictures with my new camera, trying to figure out exactly how to use it. I'll let you be the judge of my success after looking at these photos.

The main course was a roast chicken with latkes that I made out of potatoes, parsnips, and turnips from the farm along with a little horseradish, and whole grain mustard. We ate them with sour cream and apple sauce, the way that God (or Yahweh) intended.

I had planned on making the latkes for the last day of Hanukkah but time and work did not permit.

The Christmas tree is now pretty fully loaded but we are preparing to remove the guitar and drum set as it is almost time to start playing the beginning strains of "Eye of the Tiger" as we bring Unicorn Babies onto the North American leg of their world tour.

Wish us luck!

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Three Christmases

You may ask: What could be better than a week of Christmas? To which I would answer: A week of Christmas with notably less traveling, snow storms and work mixed in. Nonetheless, we have have a wonderful 7-10 days of Noel. Pour yourself some eggnog, buckle up, and get ready for a Yuletide adventure the likes of which you can scarcely imagine, unless you can imagine a good deal of travel, lounging, and getting of presents.

Our holiday began with Christmas #1 in scenic Naperville, Illinois. A huge storm was heading in from the West which required us to make an emergency change to our flight so that we left four hours earlier than planned. This move paid off as we flew in to Chicago just ahead of the storm. We had to wait an hour after we landed (because they didn't have anywhere for the plane to park or some such nonsense) but we were safely in Illinois.

We got to Jen's parents' house safely, though I fell asleep in my food. The next day we had our Christmas Eve where we enjoyed many of the Ernst family's traditional fare such as tourtière, clam corn casserole, and baked beans.

On Christmas morning we awoke to a tree littered with gifts that in no way indicated the grave financial ruin our country is currently experiencing. To Jen's delight she received a horn of plenty that she was able to play with under the Christmas tree.

For dinner we had a fantastic shrimp cocktail followed by ham, turkey, roasted potatoes and parsnips, mashed potatoes, brussel sprouts, green beans, stuffing, and squash.

The next morning the temperature dropped to -6 degrees. It was so cold that the inside of the windows were covered in sheets of ice.

Jen's dad made us corned beef hash which warmed us up quite nicely. Along with the hot tea, coffee, and newspaper articles about rampant Illinois state political corruption, it was fixing up to be a nice cozy morning.

Getting a little stir crazy (and having my flight back to New York canceled because of the nasty weather) we decided to walk to the local library. The temperature was -6 with a -30 degree wind chill so, as you can imagine, this was a walk we very quickly regretted.

After a tremendously awful drive to Rhode Island Wednesday night we awoke on Thursday morning to our second Christmas. My parents had unbagged their traditional tabletop tree and were ready to party!

With Chef Mom's direction I put the finishing touches on her cheddar buttermilk biscuits while she made the herbed scrambled eggs.

After that we journeyed to the other end of the state (about 45 minutes by car) and met with some more family. My cousin Lisa made homemade manicotti, as well as a seafood bisque before her main Christmas dinner.

The turkey was stuffed with my great grandmother's stuffing, a recipe that threatens to break my family apart. We are pretty well divided into two camps: those who think that Christmas does not exist without this stuffing, and those who think that this stuffing is a nasty blight on all that is good about food and cooking. I happen to think it's pretty tasty but I don't think I could eat an entire plate of it as my mother claims to want to do, nor to I recoil at the thought of it as my father does.

The next morning began with Aunt Pauline's traditional "little breads." The one pictured here is probably a little bigger than a quarter. Nothing says Christmastime quite like little breads.

After a much less stressful drive home we enjoyed our Christmas Eve #3 dinner of raviolis, spinach (from the farm), and baked potatoes (from the farm) with truffle oil. I must've been exhausted form the drive and the hectic week because this plate presentation is just idiotic. I couldn't have been in my right mind when I threw this mess together. It looks like a strange house with a potato roof and a ravioli foundation. I hate it and I am ashamed that I created it.

This morning we had scrambled eggs, turkey bacon, toast, tea, and cider for breakfast. Then we opened our presents

Jen got another box of chocolate covered cherries.

I got a science fiction book about a black hole and a terrible moral quandry . . . my two favorite things!

In need of a lighter dinner tonight I chopped up a selection of farm vegetables including shallots, onion, potatoes, carrots, parsnips, and turnips with just a little garlic, olive oil, and thyme. We enjoyed the root vegetables with a pan-roasted chicken breast.

For dessert I made a quick hard sauce to accompany Jen's mother's plum pudding that she sent us home with.

All throughout this afternoon we have lounged and, for some reason, repeatedly watched the third movies in a number of different series starting with Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade followed by Return of the Jedi and, most recently, Back to the Future III. Now we just have to figure out if we want to watch The Karate Kid III or just go to bed. I suspect the latter.

Merry Christmas to those brave souls that are still reading!

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

A Dinner of Mythic Proportions

As the holidays rapidly approach there has been little time for cooking, and far less time for blogging about it. That being said, there have been a few culinary creations this week.

On Sunday night I was treated to a midnight curry that Jen had made using potatoes, leeks, and carrots from the farm all served over basmati rice.

On Monday Jen made a shrimp lo mein sort of dish with carrots and tatsoi from the farm.

Last night we met friends at Otto for a pre-holiday dinner.

After work I took a much-needed nap and woke up with a renewed interest in being awake. It was 8:00 so I had to put together a very quick dinner. I started with some salad greens from the farm along with sunchokes, shallots, almonds, goat cheese, and a mustard vinaigrette that I'd thrown together.

I made some Severino Radiatori with Bilinski pesto romano chicken sausage, sauteed tatsoi and mystery green (possibly spinach) from the farm, garlic from the farm and some turkey stock and Parmesan cheese.

This pasta obviously needed a wine that was named after a mythical creature. But which creature would serve best?

That's right. The bunyip. I left my Minotaur Merlot and my Ohio Grassman Chardonnay untouched, waiting for the perfect meal to accompany.

For dessert I made a maple chocolate sauce for over some chestnut ice cream.

And that's that! Tomorrow we embark upon our journey to Chicago for a few days. Why, you ask? To track the elusive bunyip of course!

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Christmas Buffalo Stance

Yesterday I was still a little under the weather. After sleeping until 9:30AM I was still exhausted and just couldn't seem to shake it. In the afternoon we went to UPS, got some lunch, and opened a new bank account, and afterward I felt like I'd run a marathon and needed a nap.

We went to a new place that opened up on 181st Street called the Hudson View Restaurant. Similarly to the Hudson View Apartments they're building a few blocks away, I can only assume that the view they're referring to is the imaginary view you would have if you went up on to the roof and then stood on a ninety foot tall ladder. That is, after demolishing all other buildings in a square mile radius, of course.

Incidentally the Hudson View was very good and extremely reasonably priced.

After coming home exhausted I took a nap then we started watched the Rankin-Bass Rudolph followed by The Hobbit and the animated The Lord of the Rings. We enjoyed some hot miso soup with noodles, shrimp, tofu, spinach, and edamame to keep warm on a chilly night.

Jen woke up before the sun this morning to go to Central Park for a race. I slept in, still recovering from whatever weird exhaustion the evil spiders had given me.

I woke up with just enough time to brew up some hot tea and go pick Jen up at 102nd street after the race. With the temperature in the low twenties the hot tea was a big hit as was the insanely overheated car.

When we got home I made Jen an omelette, toast, and some coffee to further warm her up after her race. Don't tell her but the omelette was made almost entirely out of leftovers from our lunch the day before, at least the peppers and tomatoes from my smoked salmon bagel. I use all the parts of the buffalo. I also added shallots and some 75% reduced fat Cabot cheddar which was good, but not as good as the 0% reduced fat variety.

After breakfast it was off to pick up this month's winter farm share. Normally there's someone out there sort of watching over the boxes. Today it was just a bunch of unmanned boxes with a piece of paper flapping in the wind. I checked off my name and then used my integrity to not take three boxes instead of one.

The share was pretty good: cider, apples, pears, two giant leeks, tatsoi, a head of garlic, carrots, potatoes, butternut squash, mixed salad greens, and some other mystery green (not pictured) that was buried under the mixed greens.

For lunch we had leftover Reuben from the yesterday and leftover miso soup. I also made a salad out of the cucumber and tomato from the smoked salmon along with sesame oil, tamari, shallots, rice wine vinegar, and sesame seeds, as well as a radish. Again, I use all the parts of the buffalo.

After lunch we rounded out our Tolkien Fest with The Return of the King, the Rankin-Bass version of course. What a bizarre and inconsistent trilogy the animated Tolkien movies make.

With Jen being exhausted from a day of running and me being exhausted from two days of being exhausted we did what any intelligent, fiscally responsible people would do after picking up 20 pounds of produce: we went out for dinner!

Coogan's, all decorated with loads of Christmas trees and lights, was the perfect location for our dinner. We had the Buffalo calamari, some shepherd's pie, and the horseradish crusted salmon.

Now we are nearly comatose, having just wrapped up Jen's least favorite holiday movie, A Charlie Brown Christmas. We'll see if we can polish off one more flick before we pass out.

This week will not be very update-rich as we have work, holiday obligations, and a trip to Chicago to contend with. We will try to keep you abreast of our happenings as well as our rotting vegetables as we get the chance.

We may not use so many parts of the buffalo this week.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Miso Allergic To Spiders

A series of events have lead to this blog being sadly under-updated recently, not the least of which was me getting a weird allergic reaction from potential spider bites. Seriously. At least that's my doctor's official take on it.

Jen made this delicious little ditty the other day with some shrimp, orcchiette, and feta cheese. I must have been at work that day because I didn't get a chance to sample any of it.

One thing I did get to sample was the delicious cookies made by Jen and Caolan while I was at work. They went fabulously with a hot cup of chai after lunch. I may have had more cookies than are visible in this picture. I may have also gotten a little sick by eating too many cookies. I may also be a five year old.

Jen also purchased some mistletoe at the store which she suspects may have just been some old, wilted sage that they tied a red ribbon around and marked up to $3.99.

Last night we went with Paul & Caolan to see The McGarrigle Christmas Hour at Carnegie Hall where I took the above picture before getting in trouble and being asked not to take any more pictures.

The "hour" was actually three hours which in which the stage was populated by some of the most incredible singers I've ever heard, and Lou Reed.

However, this morning I left work early after a strange dizzy spell (spider bites?) and returned home to make myself some miso soup with a little green chili paste, spinach, tofu, edamame, and boiled noodles. It seemed to do the trick because my extreme fatigue and dizziness were replaced by mild fatigue and dizziness which is far more preferable.

I continued the miso theme through dinner by making a salad with clementines and tofu which I marinated in a miso wasabi dressing with sesame oil, wasabi, tamari, and rice wine vinegar.

The miso theme concluded with some miso-glazed tuna that I made with spinach, edamame, and boiled potatoes (I just wasn't in the mood for rice).

And with that it is time to relax and watch Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer and potentially one other Rankin-Bass special (time permitting).

Wish us luck! We don't need luck for the specials, just to avoid the potentially poisonous spiders!

Saturday, December 6, 2008

'Tis The Seasoning

Today we drove into New Jersey to go food shopping and to make our semi-annual giant shopping expedition to Target which hurts the wallet, but not quite as much as the soul. After about twenty minutes the Target fatigue hit me pretty hard and we had to make our exit quickly, running through the last few items on our shopping list as if we'd suddenly been the winners of a shopping spree.

Our travels brought us through many of the "fields" in New Jersey. Let's just call this little dandy of a town Sketchfield.

After dropping off all of our purchases we ran up to 181st street to pick out this year's Christmas tree. 181st was all doctored up for the event. Apparently the UPS store wasn't feeling the cheer as they were closed at 5:15PM. More support to launch into one of my venomous City-That-Never-Sleeps-My-Ass tirades.

For dinner we started with an arugula, crab, sunchoke, and shallot salad.

We also had this olive bread that we preferred to call "fougasse" after a similar bread we'd had in France. It's my favorite because it sounds like an Italian insult. "Hey, get away from my marinara, you fougasse!"

For dinner I made a Bologenese(ish) sauce with garlic, onion, carrot, celery, thyme, basil, ground beef, and a little skim milk. I also cooked some tri-colored linguine while Jen began stringing up the tree. Jen and I are all about smashing down the restraints of typical gender roles.

Just about the only thing we used from the farm was some of the leftover garlic since that's all we have left.

We watched both The Muppet Family Christmas and The Muppet Christmas Carol which gave us an adequate dose of The Muppets, though I could still go for a little more Michael Caine. If only Hannah and Her Sisters was a Christmas movie.

I also made one of the best batches of hot chocolate I've ever made. I just melted some semi-sweet chips and then added in some skim milk and a touch of cinnamon. I also put a small scoop of chestnut ice cream in mine.

After Jen strung up the lights (we opted for the large, old-school, painted lights for the first time this year), we both hung all of our ornaments, and topped the tree with our traditional stuffed reindeer (not a read dead reindeer, a fake one). This is one of the first years that we seemed to have a semi-adequate number of ornaments for the tree. Still, I must remember to loot some of the ornaments from my parents in a few weeks when we visit for Christmas.

It's a little late but we're toying with the idea of watching another Christmas movie before we turn in. White Christmas may be on deck next, though we could easily polish off How The Grinch Stole Christmas since the DVD with no commercials is about twenty minutes long.

$19.99 for a twenty minute DVD. Now that's what Christmas is all about.