Friday, November 21, 2008

New Endeavors

You see, I'm very smart. Lately, I've had little to no free time in my life. For that matter, I haven't had enough time to do the things on my list. As such, things like "fold laundry" or "read*" have fallen by the wayside. And it is at this time, when I have no time, that i have decided to become a Tastefully Simple consultant.

I've sent a few emails to my friends and family - mostly just an invitation to an open house to display the products and introduce the company and an (soon to arrive) email about holiday shopping and entertaining. (I swear after this you will receive no more emails unless you profess your love of the products to me and request further emails. Thank you, dear ones, for putting up with me in the interim!)

So far, those that have tried the food have loved it. I'm so excited, but not too surprised about this. It really is delicious food. The other main talking point (but after yummy food, you shouldn't need much else) is the food is all wonderfully easy to prepare. No more than two ingredients are ever required and not very much time at all. Viola! Delicious meal and you look like a master chef.

I'm hoping both the food and I continue to be well received. And I hope this new venture goes well. It's a little scary, but I'm excited.

*Whilst "reading" may seem like a luxury item, I've tried to be more diligent about attending and productively participating in the book club my friend puts together. Since the December picks were influenced by yours truly, I figure I should do my very best to read them and attend. And yes, picks and them. There are two books. I think she's punishing me for daring to suggest books. Good thing I apparently love Capote.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Mental Health Break: Puppies

I forget exactly who sent me this website. (it might have been Matt) I forget exactly what day it was on. (somewhere in the middle there. Wednesday? Thursday?) I just know it's been a long few weeks and it probably won't let up until at least the new year. And this website has been wonderful in helping me get through it:



Thursday, November 13, 2008

A Tale of Two 'Hoods

I'm always amazed when I'm reminded of how much certain neighborhoods (okay, i guess they're their own town, but they're part of the very immediate Boston Metro Area) are not looked upon kindly by their neighbors. Namely, Alston and Roxbury. I know definitively of two schools that go to great lengths to ensure that they have only Boston, not Roxbury addresses. Same goes for Alston.

But it seems that Brookline has taken this a step further. This isn't an academic institution not wanting to be associated with a slightly notorious area, it's a neighboring town. So far, I've found that only pretty predominant roads go from Alston to Brookline and vice versa. What happens on the smaller roads? Either there's a barrier at the town line so cars can't pass, or the road stops and becomes a dead end just before the line.

Now, I've never hidden the fact that Alston isn't my favorite place. (also not my most disliked. besides, it has some pretty awesome people) But I think that barriers and prematurely stopped streets is a little drastic. Oh Brookline.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Civic Duty

tee hee. duty.

PS -

Thanks for sending this to me, Julie! ;-)

Friday, October 24, 2008

Roasted Chicken

Apparently, when I decide to roast something for dinner, I decide to roast everything. (almost)

I had never roasted a chicken before, but suddenly had a hankering to do so. I had never even really been in charge of the turkey, no matter how much I do for Thanksgiving. For a first attempt, I'd say I did pretty damn well.

With all the apples sitting in my kitchen, taunting me, daring me to try to use them all before they went bad, I knew that at least one had to be used as a part of this recipe. I did some research on the interwebs, and it didn't seem like it would be all that hard. I was expecting to stuff the chicken more like a turkey, but wasn't very disappointed when I discovered that that wasn't the norm. Following a few guidelines, but sort of just feeling my way - this is what I did.

What you'll need:
2 carrots, unpeeled and sliced about 1/4" thick
2 stalks of celery, sliced the same
1 medium onion, diced
1 apple, quartered only (do not peel or core)
5-8 cloves garlic
fresh rosemary sprigs
fresh thyme
1 whole chicken, giblets and all
1 cup white wine (plus however much you would like to drink)

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Place a rack 1/3 of the way up in the oven so that the chicken will sit in the middle.

Line the bottom of a roasting pan or casserole dish with the carrots, celery and onion. Place a few sprigs of thyme and rosemary on top in center, where you will place the chicken.

Clean the chicken - remove any remaining feathers, remove the giblets and place in the bed of vegetables. Also remove the pieces of fat attaching the skin near the cavity. You can chose to wash and pat dry the chicken. I did not as I didn't want to spread salmonella to my sink and kitchen and figured that roasting the chicken would kill the germs anyway.

Once the cavity of the chicken is empty, sprinkle with salt and pepper, insert garlic, a few sprigs of rosemary and thyme, as well as the apple. The entire apple may not fit. I had to cut mine into 1/8ths to fit more than a quarter. Massage the butter or margarine into the skin all over. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Place the chicken on top of the bed of vegetables, herbs and giblets.

Place in the oven to roast for 45-60 minutes. I did not have a meat thermometer, so let my chicken stay in a little longer than it probably should have. I'd rather have my chicken be a little dry than under cooked. Ideally, though, you want the meat to be about 160 degrees in the thickest part of the breast.

Once the chicken is done, remove the pan from the oven and the chicken from the pan. Remove the apples, garlic, etc from the cavity. Cover with aluminum foil and let sit while you prepare the phenomenal au jus.

Scrape all the vegetables and giblets from the pan into a bowl, allowing any juices to remain. Pour the glass of wine into the bowl with the vegetables so it can collect any remaining flavor or juices. Then pour the wine, straining out the vegetables into a sauce pan along with the juices from the roasting pan. Be sure to smush the vegetables a bit as you're straining them so you get as much flavor out of them as possible. Turn on the burner to a medium low heat to allow the alcohol to begin to burn off. At this point, check the chicken to see if any juice has accumulated on the plate or in the cavity. If so, add this to the pan now and continue cooking for just a few minutes longer.

Now the sauce and chicken are both ready to serve!

Our meal was accompanied by an attempt at roast vegetables. I say attempt because unfortunately, the rack to roast the chicken on was low and therefore close to the bottom rack in the oven. The vegetables seemed to steam more than roast, but it all worked out.

This one's easy!
Slice and dice your favorite assortment of vegetables and arrange in one layer on a baking sheet.

Brush with olive oil, sprinkle with salt, pepper and other spices of choice and place in the oven. After 15 minutes turn over, brush, sprinkle and return to the oven for another 10-15 minutes. Once the vegetables have reached the desired doneness, enjoy!

Eat me, I'm done!!

(also accompanied by mashed potatoes, as you can see)

Apple Pomegranite Tarte Tatin: An Attempt

Until about a year ago, I don't think I had ever heard of a Tarte Tatin. My family tends to cook simple, good food. Desserts are more in the pie, cake, cookie family occasionally straying to blintzes or sufgoniot. And then one lovely friend started talking about the one that she makes as well as the one at Petit Robert Bistro. (a restaurant that is heaven on earth, btw)

So when a recipe for an Apple and Pomegranite Tarte Tatin came in my Bon Apetit, I just had to give it a whirl. And whirl I did....

What you need:

  • 1 cup all purpose flour
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 6 tablespoons (3/4 stick) chilled unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
  • 1/4 cup crème fraîche or sour cream
  • 3 cups refrigerated pure pomegranate juice
  • 1/4 cup (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 7 medium Golden Delicious apples (about 3 1/4 pounds), peeled, quartered, cored (I used the apples from the excursion, so they were a combo of Macs and Courtlands. I also ended up using 9-10 apples, I believe)
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground allspice
  • Large pinch of coarse kosher salt
  • Vanilla ice cream (you really don't want to leave this out)

The Making of the Crust
Blend first 3 ingredients. Add chilled butter and blend until coarse meal forms. Add crème fraîche/sour cream. Blend, until moist clumps form. Gather dough into ball; flatten into disk. Wrap; chill 1 hour. Roll dough out on lightly floured surface to 11-inch-diameter round. Slide onto baking sheet, cover, and chill until ready to use. This part can be done up to a day in advance. Mine was done the previous evening, transported across the city and baked in Cambridge. And it survived just fine.

And Then the Filling...
Boil pomegranate juice in heavy large saucepan until reduced to scant 1 cup syrup, about 15 minutes. This too can be done ahead. Not to mention this syrup ends up being magic I plan on making regularly.

Position rack in center of oven and preheat to 400°F. Spread room-temperature butter evenly over bottom and up sides of heavy medium ovenproof skillet (10 inches across top; 8 inches across bottom; 2 1/4 inches deep). Sprinkle sugar evenly over butter. Cook over medium heat without stirring until mixture bubbles all over, about 3 minutes. Remove from heat. Stand apple quarters on 1 end around edge of skillet, leaning 1 cut edge against pan side and fitting snugly. Stand as many apples in center as will fit. Sprinkle apples with allspice and salt.

This picture is post pomegranate syrup, but I would like to point out how lovely and tightly packed my apples were. This lead to some boiling over onto the stove, as you can see.

Cook apples over medium-high heat without stirring until thick, deep-amber syrup bubbles up, adding any remaining apples as space permits (apples will shrink as they cook), about 20 minutes. This will not cause burning or sticking, as you may fear. Pour 1/4 cup pomegranate syrup over (mixture will bubble). Cook until juices thicken again, 4 to 5 minutes (syrup will be deep amber). Remove from heat.

Using spatula, press apples gently toward center, then down to compact. Slide crust over apples. Press crust down around apples at edge of skillet. Cut 4 slits in top for steam to escape.

Bake tart until crust is brown and juices at edge are thick and dark scarlet in color, 25 to 30 minutes. Remove skillet from oven; let stand 1 minute.

The bubbling over and spilling continued whilst my tarte tatin was in the oven. But the crust is a lovely golden brown.

I couldn't wait to see the lovely apple pattern when I finally flipped it. To do so, place a large plate over the skillet. Using oven mitts and holding plate and skillet firmly together, invert tart onto plate. Carefully lift off skillet. Return any apples to tart that may be stuck in skillet.

Apparently I fail. It looks like apple mush. At this point, I was hoping the lovely smells eminating from the kitchen were more indicative of how it would taste than the aesthetics. Let it cool at least 15 minutes. Serve Tarte Tatin warm or at room temperature with vanilla ice cream and drizzle of remaining pomegranate syrup.

Thankfully, it tasted wonderfully. Maybe the Goldens will/would hold up a little better. Maybe I over packed my tarte? Uncertain. What I do know is that vanilla ice cream drizzled in pomegranate syrup is now one of my most favorite desserts.

Btw, this is what it was supposed to look like:

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Blogger fails me and I cry.

me: what's wrong with bloggggerrrrrr
Deepa: oh good lord
go to bed
it will be fine in the morning
me: but I won't have my laptop at work with me in the am!
Deepa: wait do you hear that?
that sound?
what IS that?
me: whine whine whine?
Deepa: the worlds smallest violin!
i can HEAR it!
me: lol you're such a bitch ;-)
Deepa: preens
me: whatever. i'm going to go bake a pie
Deepa: hahaha

Eff you Blogger. I didn't want to tell you about roasting a chicken or going to Maine anyway. (okay, I will, but it might take a few days unless it decides to start behaving later tonight)

Weekend Mini Break

Relaxation, pretty leaves, and hiking were the goal for this past weekend. With the Berkshire's all booked up with people from around the world wanting to get a taste of fall in New England, we decided to head to a less populated place this time of year - The Ocean. Fortunately for us, Maine has the best of all worlds - ocean, leaves, hiking, and small town quaintness.

The weekend was perfect.

We spent one day hiking. Look, that's part of the Beehive. There were rungs cause it went right up. And I wasn't scurred. Not even once. Look at me, I'm growing. Or the Andes made most other mountains seem trivial. Undetermined.

This is one of the views from the top, plus our feet. There's little in this world that can beat leaves and ocean.

A view from the bottom of what we'd just climbed. We took The Beehive up and The Bowl back down.

Yup, those are his feet in the water. They were numb for the next half hour. I let my feet touch the water too, but I definitely didn't hang out. I might have gone running up the beach.

After a lot of hiking we had some delicious tea, soup and popovers with home made jam. Second day was spent wandering around town, in and out of shops. I loved this clock. Around mid afternoon it was time to head back to the city.

We'll definitely be back. There's more trails to hike, leaves to see and ocean to enjoy.

Happy Fall!

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Best Brunch Ever: Challah French Toast

With Rosh Hashanah comes round challah. Living on my own, I can't get through half a loaf on my own before it gets stale and unenjoyable, even with the help of boy. Good thing challah makes such good french toast.

Wanting to bring in the new year with a little extra sweetness, as is the tradition, and the bread being challah, I modified the batter ever so slightly from typical french toast.

All my measurements are approximate - cooking is more of a feeling thing for me than a science.

6 eggs
1 1/2 cups milk (I used skim)
1/2 tsp vanilla
1 tbs honey
1/2 tsp salt
3/4 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp nutmeg

1/2 to 1/3 round challah, cut into approximately 1" slices (regular challah works just as well. raisin challah adds an extra kick, too.)

Beat together eggs, milk, honey, vanilla and spices.

Heat a fry pan or skillet and add butter, margarine or PAM to prevent sticking.

Dip bread in egg mixture, saturating both sides. Move to pan. Fill the pan with slices without allowing them to touch.

Brown slices on both sides. Once both sides are a deep brown, remove from heat and cover with aluminum foil or place on cookie sheet and place in oven until all the bread is done.

Plate, serve and enjoy!

We had ours with turkey bacon, chicken apple sausage and mimosas. And of course drizzled it with 100% maple syrup.

Friday, October 10, 2008

The Pass Out Queen

Matt makes fun of me, almost nightly, for passing out. Sometimes on the couch, sometimes on the bed, but almost always prior to the intended sleep time. (since I have more things I want to do - no not that, dirty, dirty readers)

I attribute this phenomenon to how I'm constantly going going going during the day/evening/night, so the moment I stop, my body takes the opportunity to make me stop full halt. Stupid body.

Some of the activities I've been unable to get to include posting all the food I've been cooking lately. Be it the challah french toast to fuel our apple picking excursion, or all the resulting goodies, I have a lot of posting to do!

Recipes to come include:
Challah French Toast (afore mentioned)
Roast Chicken with an apple shoved up its bum
Apple Cake
Chicken Stock (thanks to afore mentioned chicken)

Recipes to come after I make them this weekend:
Apple Pomegranite Tart Tatin
Apple Crumb Pie
Apple Sauce

Possible recipes to come this weekend:
Roast Turkey w/Apple Shallot Stuffing (I will be pained to not make my grandmother's)

I really am looking for more savory recipes to use all these apples in.... ideas anyone?

Proven Wrong

I'm a big enough person to admit when I'm wrong.

Anyone that has known me for any significant period of time has probably heard me dis Connecticut, my home state, time and again. It's a big suburb. It's boring. Much of the state is close minded. It's boring. I'm sure there are worse states, but I'm not familiar enough with any of them to speak knowledgeably about the subject. Suffice it to say, I've always thought Connecticut to have few redeeming qualities and suck a lot.

Today, Connecticut proved me wrong. (at least a little) The Connecticut Supreme Court ruled that under Connecticut law, gay marriage is not illegal. Therefore, gay marriage is now legal in Connecticut!

I have a theory that this may just be to one-up New York and their decision to recognize other state's marriages, but I'll take what I can get.

On a related note, Jefferson sent this to me today:

Monday, October 6, 2008

Oodles of Apples

Yesterday, being a typical fall day in New England, boy, friends and I decided to venture out in search of apples. The orchard we ended up with was a "buy a bag" orchard. $20 for half a bushel, and half a bushel we got.

Now the quandry: what to do with all the apples.

So far, the following has been proposed/thought of:
Apple Crumb Pie
Apple Butter
Apple Sauce
Apple Tartarin with Pomegranate
Apple Strudel

But half a bushel is a lot of apples. Does anyone have recipes to share? Hopefully ones that don't go bad easily? or are easy to distribute?

Btw. Girl at Bolton Farm Stand's apple pastry window sucks at the customer service thing. We stand in line for 40 minutes. I only want one or two cider donuts. The rest of our crew is getting assorted various pastry so we get in the 5 or less donut line. Three customers from glory and no more individual donuts are being served. We didn't want to cut the other line or wait another 40 minutes so banked on sympathy. None was had. No individual donuts. And she couldn't sell donuts from that line. Fine. I'll just take my cider. Talk was had of a visit to another farm stand to get me a donut. Instead, my friends got a puppy. And puppy always trumps donut.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

The Omnivore's 100

Here’s what I want you to do:

1) Copy this list into your blog or journal, including these instructions.
2) Bold all the items you’ve eaten.
3) Cross out any items that you would never consider eating.
4) Optional extra: Post a comment here at linking to your results.

The VGT Omnivore’s Hundred:

1. Venison
2. Nettle tea
3. Huevos rancheros
4. Steak tartare
5. Crocodile
6. Black pudding
7. Cheese fondue
8. Carp
9. Borscht
10. Baba ghanoush
11. Calamari
12. Pho
13. PB&J sandwich
14. Aloo gobi
15. Hot dog from a street cart
16. Epoisses
17. Black truffle
18. Fruit wine made from something other than grapes
19. Steamed pork buns
20. Pistachio ice cream
21. Heirloom tomatoes
22. Fresh wild berries
23. Foie gras
24. Rice and beans
25. Brawn, or head cheese
26. Raw Scotch Bonnet pepper
27. Dulce de leche
28. Oysters
29. Baklava
30. Bagna cauda
31. Wasabi peas
32. Clam chowder in a sourdough bowl
33. Salted lassi
34. Sauerkraut
35. Root beer float
36. Cognac with a fat cigar
37. Clotted cream tea
38. Vodka jelly/Jell-O
39. Gumbo
40. Oxtail
41. Curried goat
42. Whole insects
43. Phaal
44. Goat’s milk
45. Malt whisky from a bottle worth £60/$120 or more
46. Fugu
47. Chicken tikka masala
48. Eel
49. Krispy Kreme original glazed doughnut
50. Sea urchin
51. Prickly pear
52. Umeboshi
53. Abalone
54. Paneer
55. McDonald’s Big Mac Meal
56. Spaetzle
57. Dirty gin martini
58. Beer above 8% ABV
59. Poutine
60. Carob chips
61. S’mores
62. Sweetbreads
63. Kaolin
64. Currywurst
65. Durian
66. Frogs’ legs
67. Beignets, churros, elephant ears or funnel cake
68. Haggis
69. Fried plantain
70. Chitterlings, or andouillette
71. Gazpacho
72. Caviar and blini
73. Louche absinthe
74. Gjetost, or brunost
75. Roadkill
76. Baijiu
77. Hostess Fruit Pie
78. Snail
79. Lapsang souchong
80. Bellini
81. Tom yum
82. Eggs Benedict
83. Pocky
84. Tasting menu at a three-Michelin-star restaurant.
85. Kobe beef
86. Hare
87. Goulash
88. Flowers
89. Horse
90. Criollo chocolate
91. Spam
92. Soft shell crab
93. Rose harissa
94. Catfish
95. Mole poblano
96. Bagel and lox
97. Lobster Thermidor
98. Polenta
99. Jamaican Blue Mountain coffee
100. Snake

I feel like 30 isn't too bad considering all the things I can't/won't eat... How do you fare on the Omnivore's 100?

Saturday, September 27, 2008

I blame the old man

It was raining today, a lot. Though the rain was on and off for most of today, every time I was outside, it was raining heavily. When I got my lunch, when I went to and returned from a meeting, when I left work and then when I left the grocery store on the way to my friend's.

I missed the T by about a minute. And I blame the old man.

When I was leaving Shaw's, there was an old man standing in the doorway. I couldn't tell if he was trying to open his umbrella, arrange his bags or just wait for his ride. Unfortunately, there's only one door out and he was standing right in the threshold. I waited patiently, said excuse me (to no avail) a few times - and was eventually allowed to leave.

And then I missed the train by a minute. And I got soaked. I blame the old man. Fortunately, I had impending soup on which I could focus and use to find my zen.

Such. Good. Soup. (but I'll save that for another post)

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Be careful what you wish for

If you had talked to me in February or March about the Presidential race and the Primaries, I would have railed on that I was tired of promises and wanted to see action. The majority of the candidates on both sides were Senators. They could write legislation and get the ball rolling on all their campaign promises. Issues like healthcare and the national debt could begin to be resolved.

And then there was, what was even then referred to as, the housing crisis. I knew that it would either be resolved or beyond repair by the time any of these people reached the White House and even began working on it. I just couldn't get past the fact that this was a group of Senators. Each one (other than Romney and Giuliani, really) had the power to get the ball rolling. To actually do something.

But they wanted to be President. They needed to be able to make promises for a better future - but only with them as President. Not as Senator.

Now we're in a real crisis. It's true, I don't like to see all my tax dollars going to these large corporations. I'll never make the salaries of their mail room clerk, but it's my taxes saving them from their extravagancies. The unfortunate part is that if these companies aren't saved, we're all screwed. The only reason the market isn't still plummeting this week, the only thing keeping investment bankers from closing their savings accounts and opening a new account under their mattress or in the chimney is this bill in Washington. It's not perfect. CEOs would get millions of dollars as part of their severance packages. Save the companies, sure. Giving big wig bank guy a super comfortable retirement, I'm not very comfortable with. I'm not sure the bill will pass because of clauses like this one. But something similar needs to pass and soon.

And that brings us back to the election. McCain is "suspending" his campaign until something happens. Too little too late? Another ploy to keep his campaign at the top of the headlines? Is this a way to keep Palin away from the press? Or is he legitimately putting priorities in order? Country before self, and all that? This week his numbers have been dropping due to his response to the state of the economy. And the press is throwing a hissy fit because they can't get access to Palin. Have they forgotten how few questions Bush allows at his press conferences? Or the fact that they never get to see or talked to Cheney? The closest they get there is the guy who Cheney shot in the face will hold a press conference to apologize for getting in the way and then field some questions.

If he were suspending his campaign but still attending the debate, I'd be really impressed. Small rallies and fund raisers can be skipped in times of need. The debate is his platform to go head to head and say what his solution is. It's true. He's a Senator and even if he's only in Washington to vote, it's a step in the right direction. If he's in Washington to work out a more feasible solution, that's even better.

But here's the problem. I don't like McCain. I think his healthcare policies will make things worse, not better. And he was certainly part of the group that reduced regulation on businesses and got us in this pickle in the first place. I want to see Obama stop campaigning and go to Washington and do something. Maybe even actually vote. I think it's unfair for Obama to make the supposition that a President can multi-task and therefore simultaneously run for President and fix the economic crisis at hand. He's done very little during his time as a Senator other than run for President and his attendance record in committees and voting record on the floor are proof of this.

So in my ideal world, both candidates would get on a plane, go to Washington, and stay there - with the exception of the debate Friday night. Stop making promises and start doing things you already have the power to do. As US Senators, my taxes pay your salaries, and I don't want to pay you to campaign while I wonder if my bank account will still be there on Monday.

But seriously, I hope they hold the debate on Friday. Drinking, eating and yelling at the tv with friends is hard to top.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Just like that...

(When I move you move...just like that. Kidding)

I've been mulling around the idea of a blog for a while. I really enjoy writing and have random thoughts from time to time, with no outlet other than my friends. Unfortunately, more and more of them are moving away. I was thinking about it the other day, and this may be another way to keep them informed as to what I'm doing. A discussion with my friend Julie yesterday definitely pushed me in this direction.

And then there's the name. I've been kicking it around in my head for a while. With all the thinking about starting a blog, I wanted to see if it was available. And then, just like that, I was all signed up.

So there you have it.

Oh. The origin of the name, you ask? Architecture and design are both passion and career. The great debate always seems to be Form or Function. So combine that with the fact that I feel like I'm always operating at a form of function at best and Ta-Da!

We'll see how this goes.