Home - is where I want to be / But I guess I'm already there /I come home -
she lifted up her wings /
Guess that this must be the place...
- Talking Heads, "Naive Melody"

Wednesday, April 30, 2008

So Many Spices, So Little Time

My latest order from Penzey's arrived in the mail today. I opened it up, admired the colors, and caught myself thinking, "I really need to cook more." Could we move to a four-meals-a-day sort of schedule, maybe?

We Got the Car!

Drove down this morning, signed some papers, swapped plates, moved the car seats over, and there it was. Drove it home in something of a hyperanalytical mood, but it's certainly nicer than the old one.

I still don't understand what it is they do with cars like our old one, that aren't worth refurbishing to sell--apparently they get shipped in lots to Mexico or something? I don't get it, but the global market does mysterious things....

Anyway, we have a new(er) car, and we're glad to have it over and done with.

What Will They Think of Next?

This must be one of those "getting older" things. As I've posted before, my formative experience of the Web was of a generally static medium, only a tiny step away from solid print. So yesterday, when I was chatting with a friendly co-worker, I did a small double-take when she told me that there exist online jigsaw puzzles. Kinda neat, and yet... why?

Busy week with little cooking going on, between new car and trip preparation.

Monday, April 28, 2008

Apple Spice Cake with Brown Sugar Glaze

We bought a car! Swallowed our reservations and decided that we weren't going to find a better deal, so we put a deposit on a silver '05 Accord. If everything goes smoothly, it will be ours in a couple of days, just in time for a nice long drive.

Despite being exhausted, I found time to make a cake on Sunday. One of my co-workers had a birthday back in February, and I had promised him a cake, and with one thing and another we've never gotten around to celebrating his birthday. Well, today the time and inclination finally got together and produced this cake.

Mine does not look like the picture -- the glaze all soaked in, rather than leaving the shiny coating. It is, however, moist and satisfyingly sweet without being overwhelming, and altogether much better than I had expected from such a simple cake. The batter is very stiff, but the apples and the glaze offset that quite nicely, leaving a perfectly balanced result.

The next coworker to have a birthday has requested a tres leches cake. I can do that.

Sunday, April 27, 2008

Pork, Cashew, and Green Bean Stir-Fry

Car shopping is exhausting, and strangely unrewarding. We started the day with a list of dealerships that seem to have a car we'd like to see. The first one was to take a second look at a car we like, but have reservations about. We still have them. The dealer shrugged patiently.

The second place we didn't even end up driving the car because the guy only had one plate, and it was out with someone else. We waited for fifteen minutes and gave up; he never even came out to the lot. Guess he thought we were poor prospects.

The third was one of the big name dealerships, and I think we learned our lesson about never going to those places. It was a fascinating textbook display of hard sell tactics, and he put on a thoroughly astonished expression when we informed him rather bluntly that we were not planning to buy a car then and there no matter what he said (they did give L a balloon, so we got that out the day...). In fact, we have no intention of ever buying any car from these guys.

Six hours of driving around the state and looking at cars ate up way more energy than it seems like it should have. The kids were reasonably well behaved throughout all of this; there was a distinct "I want to go home" vibe by the time we got to the third place, and I felt some of it myself. I was tempted to go the takeout route again, but instead made Pork, Cashew and Green Bean Stir-Fry (with sugar snap peas instead of green beans). It's hard to go too far wrong with tenderloin, and this is a good, no-frills recipe, perfect for nights when you're dead on your feet.

Today, I hope, we're going to make up our minds. Next time we'll try to time the whole thing better; the pressure of either getting it done now or it waits until after vacation is not making this any more pleasant. And maybe we won't wait until the car is on its last leg before we start looking.

Friday, April 25, 2008

Random Thoughts

As I was driving to work this morning the phrase "non-digital cats" happened through my mind, which immediately veered into wondering if there were such things as analog cats, and quickly concluded that yes, there are degrees of cat-ness.

One of our non-digital cats woke me up at 3:30 this morning by issuing a short series of alarming howls, which invariably means that he's about to throw up, which he then did. Two hours later, I was on my way to work. I have, by the way, found a personal threshold: $3.50 gas is where I start driving a bit more slowly. I appear to be the only one on the Pike who feels this way, though.

The week has seen a cracked windshield, a family-wide cold virus, and several days with minimal water use due to plumbing problems (so much for my menus!). On the other hand, I had my annual review, which was overall favorable (at my age I'd be pretty surprised if anyone found a character flaw I don't already know about). And I got a raise! A non-analog cat is in order:

The weekend will more than likely consist entirely of car shopping and cleaning (assuming we have water again...). I can live with that.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Just Another One of Those Days....

In the throes of car hunting, our current car's windshield picked up a rock. We're hoping it can be fixed, not replaced, and that the insurance company won't freak out that we have a claim so soon before we trade the darned thing.

L. came down with a mild cold the other day, which she is generously passing around the family. I suppose we may as well get used to this before she starts preschool.

On the day I was planning to make pasta, the city decided to flush out the water pipes, resulting in a distinctly orange-colored liquid even after filtering. We had leftovers instead.

But it's spring, and life could be a lot worse. For lunch today I made what I had been planning to make for dinner last night: Cavatappi with Spinach, Beans, and Asiago Cheese. It's in the 70s here today and this really hit the spot--it has oomph, so you know you've eaten something, but it's full of good things, and you don't feel guilty for enjoying a big bowl.

Monday, April 21, 2008

Bistro Roast Chicken

Car shopping yesterday took up far more of the day than I had hoped it would, and this is not a quick dish to make, but I had already thawed the chicken and didn't have anything else ready to go.

This is quite possibly my favorite chicken recipe. The seasoning and basic method can be used with any bone-in chicken parts (or whole chickens, or turkey for that matter). It's dependable, and better than it has any right to be for something so easy. I like to make it with potatoes, though I have not mastered pommes frites. It's my default dish for company when I'm not sure about their tastes, and for weekends at home when I have time to spend in the kitchen and want that wonderful roasting smell.

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Weekly Menu

I posted a while back about the joy of menu planning, and thought I'd get a bit deeper into it with an example, since I just finished the task up for the week. Different people have different ways of doing it--some rotate cooking duties around the family, some hold votes. I tend to be an autocrat in the kitchen, and I enjoy doing this by myself, but maybe when the kids are big enough I'll change my ways.

This week started off with some "knowns": Pork tenderloin is on sale, we were going to be in Maine visiting my in-laws, and I would likely be home late two nights. Well, Saturday was taken care of. Sunday would be a good time to make what I had planned to make on Friday, which takes some time to cook and got shunted aside by the cooking I was doing to take over to their place. That took care of the weekend.

I leafed through a random stack of recipes, clipped but not filed. Pan-Seared Scallops with Lemon Sauce. I try to get seafood on the menu once a week, and one "splurge" menu for mental health, and I love scallops. This one has a lot of cream--definitely a splurge. The scallops have to be bought the day of cooking, so those can be Monday, when I'll be working from home and can pop over to the store. In the same stack I found Cavatappi with Spinach, Beans, and Asiago. Hardly any cooking involved, perfect for one of the nights I'll be home late.

How about the other? Pizza? We've been getting takeout a bit too often lately, but you can't beat it for easy. A compromise emerged in the form of a purchased pizza shell with toppings that can be made ahead--roasted red peppers and caramelized onions, not something we'll find at the local delivery place. D can put it all together while I'm on my way home.

Two nights left, one of them yoga night. For that I need something really quick, or really slow. Soup? Smokey Black Bean and Vegetable Soup? I scan it, catch the words "simmer two hours." Perfect. That just leaves that pork tenderloin. The one open night left on the menu is a day I have to be in the office, so anything involving the oven is right out. I go to a file of pork recipes and sort through them until I find a couple of stir-fry recipes that sound good. Quick, simple, and not too much like anything else we're having. Comparing the two, I find they are quite similar, and discard the one that would have me buy something I would use only a few tablespoons of (and probably never use up the rest).

Done! The week will include a variety of foods, an appropriate rainbow of vegetables, few expensive ingredients, and a few things I haven't made before. Recipes in hand, I check the pantry, make a grocery list, and feel pleased with myself.

...And the kids are up. Perfect timing.

An Italian Dinner with Leftovers in Mind

Last week my father-in-law broke his ankle. I spent part of Friday cooking, and on Saturday we went to visit them, bringing food (it's the thing to do, right?). They got to see the grandkids, and we got to see them, and it was a pretty nice time, considering. The weather was beautiful, the kids behaved (until it was time to leave, at least). We brought:
And a couple of different kinds of bread, naturally. I patted myself on the back for not driving myself crazy, but picking things that require little prep work and attention while cooking.

Today is going to be busy--all the stuff that we normally do on the weekend and didn't get a chance to do yesterday, plus car shopping. This week is going to be busy--a couple of late days at work in the offing.

In fact, as I sit here looking at the next few weeks, and months, I think we're going to be busy from now through New Years....

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Big Ticket Items

There's nothing like being in the market for a car to make you pay attention to what everyone else is driving. It's a little distracting, constantly noting the makes of cars on the highway, in the parking lot, wondering. Why did they buy that one? Have they had a lot of trouble with it? That seems to be popular, should we look at one?

Having studied the Consumer Reports testimonies, last night we made our first dealer visit. Nice enough place, so low-pressure there was almost a vacuum; the guy just showed us around a bit in a disinterested fashion, even wandering off a couple of times. Maybe this is some sort of reverse psychology in action. We looked at a few cars, made notes, sadly concluded that we can't fit into a Civic, and promised we'd come back over the weekend (without the kids) to drive something.

One thing I am noticing as I do my internet research, there's very little variation in the prices, and I wonder if the internet itself is the cause of that. When you can get every car listing for a hundred mile radius on your screen in two seconds or less, sortable six different ways, it's easy to see if one price sticks out (in either direction), and you're going to get price clusters. Ours is going to cost more than we wanted it to, but that's how it went the first time, too.

To celebrate our impending assumption of debt, we ate frugally:

Three-Bean Tacos

And since that recipe calls for a half cup of this, half of that, and such, I used the rest of the peppers and such in a lunchtime favorite:

Couscous Salad with Chickpeas and Tomatoes

You may notice that the latter recipe doesn't actually call for peppers, but it's one of those blank-canvas recipes to which you can add pretty much anything you like the taste of. I always pour on the veggies, adding peppers, carrots, and whatever else is handy.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Asparagus and Parmesan Pasta Toss

I knew when I planned the week's menus that Tuesday was going to consist of meetings almost straight through from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., and I'd better make dinner something I can do in my sleep. This would qualify. Now that asparagus season is nigh, I'm cooking with it fairly often.

Asparagus and Parmesan Pasta Toss

I don't roast the red peppers for this dish, as I don't care for what it does to the texture, but instead slice them thickly and add them with the mushrooms, so they still have some crunch.

Only six more weeks until our farmers markets open. I'm trying (and failing) to remember what they had in those first weeks last year; this year I'll have to keep better track. Although my schedule at work will likely prevent us from going to the Worcester market every week, I will be able to visit the larger one in Kendall Square

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Pad Thai with Tofu

Nothing very exciting to say about yesterday, so I'll skip right on to dinner:

Pad Thai with Tofu

Consensus: While this resembles no pad thai we've ever seen before, it is quite tasty, and it was quick and easy to put together. The ingredient list is reasonable. I had been looking for a recipe that would use up a half box of rice noodles we had; I couldn't find the one I was looking for (it had broccoli and eggs in it, I swear, but have not been able to find it), but this was perfectly decent.

Monday, April 14, 2008

The Fish Dilemma

The problem has been around for years now. We're supposed to eat fish at least twice a week (gotta get those Omega 3s), yet the consequences of overfishing for both the environment and the individual food budget are increasingly well documented. Tilapia is supposed to be the "fix it" fish--easily farmed without the very fact of farming it causing new devastation and health hazards. It's a mild white fish, neutral in flavor--a bit too neutral, to be honest, but there are ways to deal with that.

This was a very good meal. The balsamic sauce is just about perfect (with that much butter, it ought to be!). You can go all-out and make your mashed potatoes with cream, but I generally use chicken stock these days.

tilapia with balsamic butter sauce, thyme mashed potatoes, and sugar snap peas

The only problem with this meal was that too much of it needed attention at the last minute. Otherwise excellent.

It was a good end to a highly productive day. A lot of errands got run, cleaning was done, and we took JJ to Babies R Us to buy yet another wardrobe for him, as he has outgrown most of his 3-6 month-sized clothes, and he needed some warmer-weather gear as well (on Saturday after we got to the park, we realized that he didn't have a sunhat; a good half-dozen knitted winter caps, yes, but nothing else). And L needed new sneakers (Dora the Explorer, naturally).

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Dinner for a Perfect Day

It started early--most of my days do. In the morning it was drizzling in between pretty breaks of sunshine, and I watched the kids while D got some alone-time to recuperate from the week. L and I played (while toting a fairly patient JJ around) until close to lunchtime, when she selected a Hamtaro video to watch and I did a bit of cleaning up.

In the afternoon, on report that it was much warmer than we'd expected it to be, and that the rain had stopped, we went up to Elm Park. The bank clock said it was 75 out, and the clouds had cleared away. We spent two hours there. A tall black man practiced the trumpet over by the pond, while near the playground a woman whose cloud of long gray hair proclaimed a hippie-ish bent played a wooden flute. A polyracial chaos of children climbed, swang, slid, and sprinted (D and I took turns keeping track of L's pink corduroys in the crowd). A few teenagers slouched about--couples holding hands, a trio of girls giggling as they played on the equipment with the younger kids and took pictures of each other with their cell phones. We even ran into our landlord and her family.

When it started clouding up again we decided to call it a day. On arriving home, I went off to do the grocery shopping, and only got slightly rained on walking home. It was just about time to start dinner. I had made the dough for the rolls before we left for the park, and put in the fridge (which for once was clean enough that I had room for a bowl of dough!).

Both this soup and these rolls I've made at least a dozen times; insofar as I have a repertoire,
they're in it. And every time I make them I think "I should make these more often." I often talk myself out of making dinner rolls. Not enough time, I say. Too much trouble. And so I end up going to the grocery store and buying some overpriced (though admittedly very good) La Brea loaf every time I want something to go with the soup. Not much sense in that.

Escarole and Orzo Soup with Turkey Parmesan Meatballs

Cloverleaf Honey-Wheat Rolls

After dinner another thunderstorm passed through, leaving a rainbow behind. Days don't come much better.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Mediterranean Chickpea, Tomato, and Pasta Soup

This is one of those "lifesaver" recipes I have made for years, and will probably continue making for the rest of my life, because it's easy, healthy, and made entirely from things that we always have on hand. That it's a decently tasty little soup is of course important as well! Add a hunk of bread, a little bit of cheese, or whatever else strikes your fancy, and take the leftovers to the office the next day.

I must say, however, that last night I managed to ruin this by lazily leaving it on the stove with low heat while I went to yoga; the pasta did not enjoy this treatment. We live and learn.

2 teaspoons olive oil
1 cup diced onion
1 1/2 cups water
1 (16-ounce) can fat-free, less-sodium chicken broth
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1 (15 1/2-ounce) can chickpeas (garbanzo beans), drained
1 (14.5-ounce) can diced tomatoes, undrained
1/2 cup uncooked ditalini (very short tube-shaped macaroni)
2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley

Heat olive oil in a large saucepan over medium-high heat. Add onion, and sauté 3 minutes or until tender. Add the water and next 6 ingredients (water through tomatoes). Bring mixture to a boil; cover, reduce heat, and simmer 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add pasta, and cook 9 minutes or until pasta is tender. Stir in chopped parsley.

Yield: 4 servings (serving size: 1 1/2 cups)

CALORIES 242 (17% from fat); FAT 4.7g (sat 0.6g,mono 2.2g,poly 1.3g); PROTEIN 11.4g; CHOLESTEROL 0.0mg; CALCIUM 79mg; SODIUM 560mg; FIBER 4.6g; IRON 3.6mg; CARBOHYDRATE 39.9g

Cooking Light, OCTOBER 1998


Last night we all bundled into jackets and went out back to listen to the spring peepers (unfortunately hard to hear over the traffic noise on a still night). It seems much too early for them to me, but there it is: it really is spring!

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

The future's so bright....

Ten years ago, I was in grad school. The university had email, of course. It was text-based. I had a Web site, every tag constructed by hand. No one had heard of XML. The word "blog" had not been invented. Some people, myself included, were grousing regularly about the intrusion of commercial enterprise onto the purity of the Web.

I was interrupted in writing this post by the need to go out and buy the song referenced in the title.

The laptop on which I am working now would have blown away just about any commercially available desktop system back then. There's a Google toolbar ensconced on my screen, giving access to an ever-evolving selection of tools and amusements, and even those that existed back then would have required prohibitive network bandwidth to use in such a manner.

About the only thing I've used consistently across that span has been Word, which says something about it, I think.

The challenge of course is in using all of this productively, rather than spending half the day noodling around with one's blog settings, for instance. Ferret shock is a real threat with neat new products and features being unveiled all the time; it takes a while to figure out for each of them whether they're worth the bother.

I don't really have a point here, I'm just often amazed by how quickly things move. I'm not sure how developers do it, how much time they have to invest in staying on top of what's possible when someone's inventing a new tool, and things for that tool to do, every day.

A Momentous Tuesday

L had her first play date ever, and it went well. Here she is in her favorite jammies, which it will (I hope) soon be too warm for.

And J laughed for the first time! Not while he was in the swing, which he just sort of puts up with (and usually falls asleep in). We were on the floor making faces while his sister watched YouTube clips from Happy Feet (ugh), and he gave a little "hahaha!" Cutest thing!

Crab Cakes with Roasted Vegetables and Tangy Butter Sauce

There's a faint haze of green visible over the woods when I'm on the highway, the days are inching toward being actually warm, the sun is in the sky long enough that once a week I am startled by how late the hour has grown. The memory of summer is stirring gently.

So here's a recipe for spring. I love, love, love crab, but I don't make it very often for some reason. We had this recipe a little while ago, and I really thought I had reviewed it then, but apparently I missed it, so here it is. These are simply fantastic, the beautiful, uninterrupted taste of crab (I didn't have any Old Bay, and I didn't miss it). The sauce adds without interfering. You can obviously substitute something else for the roasted vegetables.

Crab cakes:
1/4 cup finely chopped red onion
2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
3 tablespoons light mayonnaise
2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
3/4 teaspoon Old Bay seasoning
1/2 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
2 egg whites, lightly beaten
1 pound lump crabmeat, drained and shell pieces removed
1 1/2 cups panko (Japanese breadcrumbs), divided
1 tablespoon olive oil, divided
Cooking spray

21 baby carrots (about 12 ounces)
5 small red potatoes, quartered (about 8 ounces)
4 medium shallots, halved lengthwise
1/8 teaspoon salt
8 ounces haricots verts, trimmed

2/3 cup fat-free, less-sodium chicken broth
3 tablespoons chopped shallots
2 tablespoons white wine vinegar
2 1/2 tablespoons butter

1. To prepare crab cakes, combine first 7 ingredients in a medium bowl. Gently fold in crabmeat. Gently stir in 3/4 cup panko. Cover and chill 30 minutes.

2. Divide crab mixture into 8 equal portions (about 1/2 cup each); shape each into a 3/4-inch-thick patty. Place remaining 3/4 cup panko in a shallow dish. Working with 1 patty at a time, dredge in panko. Repeat procedure with the remaining patties and panko.

3. Heat 1 1/2 teaspoons oil in a medium nonstick skillet over medium heat. Coat both sides of crab cakes with cooking spray. Add 4 crab cakes to pan; cook 7 minutes. Carefully turn cakes over; cook 7 minutes or until golden. Repeat procedure with remaining 1 1/2 teaspoons oil, cooking spray, and remaining 4 crab cakes.

4. Preheat oven to 450°.

5. To prepare vegetables, leave root and 1-inch stem on carrots; scrub with a brush. Combine carrots, potatoes, and shallots in a small roasting pan. Coat vegetables with cooking spray; sprinkle with 1/8 teaspoon salt. Toss. Bake at 450° for 20 minutes, turning once. Coat haricots verts with cooking spray. Add haricots verts to vegetable mixture; toss. Bake an additional 10 minutes or until vegetables are tender.

6. To prepare sauce, combine broth, shallots, and vinegar in a small saucepan; bring to a boil. Cook until reduced to 1/4 cup (about 4 minutes); remove from heat. Stir in butter. Serve with crab cakes and vegetables.

4 servings (serving size: 2 crab cakes, about 1 cup vegetables, and about 1 1/2 tablespoons sauce)

Nutritional Information
CALORIES 443(34% from fat); FAT 16.7g (sat 5.6g,mono 5.2g,poly 2.9g); PROTEIN 32.8g; CHOLESTEROL 103mg; CALCIUM 163mg; SODIUM 969mg; FIBER 7g; IRON 2mg; CARBOHYDRATE 42g

David Bonom , Cooking Light, APRIL 2008

Monday, April 7, 2008

April Supper Club - Eggs

It was a smaller group than usual, but a convivial evening as always. The conversation ranged over countless topics, but it was mostly families, jobs, and food.

The menu:

F--Yellow cake with chocolate frosting

K--Potato and onion frittata

P--Asparagus bake with hard-boiled eggs

And for me... as you may recall, in March we tried a new sort of planning, which involved random drawing of who did which course; I drew "main." We had already picked eggs as a theme, perhaps a little giddy with sangria or longing for spring. For weeks all I could think of were things that either didn't travel well (souffles) or were so egg-heavy that they wouldn't give much opportunity for everyone else's dishes to shine.

The answer arrived the day before Easter. The April issue of Saveur has an article on Ethiopia, which included a recipe for a chicken stew called doro wat, which includes hard-boiled eggs. Perfect!

I have subscribed for years, but never actually cooked from this magazine. They are the National Geographic of food lit: slim, gorgeously photographed, well-written, sturdily immune to fads, and worth keeping indefinitely. When Dave tried the other night to convince me that I am in fact a "foodie," he pointed to my shelf of back issues as evidence. I have never minded the fact that most of the actual recipes they publish don't strike a chord with me; I treasure the magazine as an island of quality writing in a field where it increasingly seems that advertisers have more to say than the publishers.

Here is their doro wat recipe:

4 Tbsp unsalted butter
2 large yellow onions, coarsely chopped
1 Tbsp finely chopped fresh ginger
1 Tbsp finely chopped garlic
1 1/2 Tbsp berbere, plus more to taste
4 chicken legs, skinned and divided into drumsticks and thighs
Kosher salt to taste
4 whole hard-boiled eggs

  1. Heat butter in a large, straight-sided skillet over medium-low heat. Add onions and cook, stirring occasionally, until deeply caramelized, about 25 minutes. Add garlic and ginger and cook, stirring, until softened, 6-8 minutes. Add berbere and 2 c water; stir well. Season the chicken with salt; nestle the pieces in the skillet. Reduce heat to low and simmer, covered, turning occasionally until the chicken is cooked through, about 40 minutes.
  2. Uncover skillet and raise heat to medium-high; simmer to reduce the liquid to a thick gravy, about 5 minutes. Add eggs; stir to warm through. Taste and season with more salt and berbere if necessary.
I was doubling the recipe, so I did the onions in the food processor--they were much too finely chopped as a result. Next time I'd do them by hand. I didn't see that the chicken was supposed to be skinned until it was all together; oops.

The recipe they included in the magazine for the spice mixture called berbere was a bit too complicated for me, calling for a spice grinder and whole versions of many spices I already have in ground form, so I went with one I found online instead. I used less of the red pepper flakes than it calls for, to be on the safe side of the group's tongues. I have quite a bit left over, so I think I will make this again some time soon.

I also made the injera (flatbread) recipe they included in the article, but I can't say it turned out all that great, though perhaps I just need practice. It was certainly easy to make.

Next month I will be traveling, and everyone will just bring one of their favorite dishes. I'll be sorry to miss it!

Friday, April 4, 2008

Vegetable Soup with Corn Dumplings

First off, I want to say "thank you" to the guy in the Acura last night, who took a year or so off my life by trying to superimpose his car on mine. I saw you again a ways down the road and noticed that you'd started signaling your lane changes; good for you!

It's raining today, the rain that dribbles coldly down the back of your neck, that splats into circles a half inch or more across on your windshield, with little proto-snowflakes all around the edges. Between that, the darkness, the foggy patches, and the semis kicking up clouds of spray, good visibility on the Pike this morning was about fifteen feet, which didn't stop most people from driving the usual 80 MPH. I am constantly astonished by the relative scarcity of serious accidents on that highway.

I spent half the drive wrestling with myself: Park in my usual spot, which is cheap, but entails a walk of nearly a mile to the office? Or park in the garage two blocks from the office and pay a lot more? I decided to tough it out only because I have to attend a training class today and am not sure I'll be out in time get the early bird rate at the garage. And who knows, maybe by then the rain will have lightened up. The prospect from my office window is bleak and grey--there's not enough green on the trees yet to see it from a distance. Only the crew teams are on the river, impressing me as they always do with their dedication.

All of which is a long way of saying that it's a good day for soup. I wish this had been a better soup, since then I'd be looking forward to having it again for dinner, but unfortunately I didn't like it very much, and we might get takeout. Part of it was my fault, for adding too much cayenne, but even without that I think it would have elicited little more than an "eh," and I'm not planning to make it again.

Tomorrow is Saturday, and new adventures in menu planning await. I am keenly looking forward to supper club this weekend and seeing what everyone else is making for the "egg" theme.

Thursday, April 3, 2008

Zucchini, Sausage, and Feta Casserole

Another Wednesday, another casserole--and a soup, as in a frenzy of being-preparedness I put together two dinners in a half hour or so. I'll probably post the soup tomorrow.

I am starting to grok casseroles. After all of these years of cooking, something is finally gelling in my brain, to the point where I now look at recipes as a class rather than distinct things in themselves, understanding their common features. There was a time when I would have gone out and bought ziti for this recipe, rather than using a reasonable substitute that I had on hand.

Having sausage in it, this recipe met with considerable approval. The mozzarella didn't really add much, though, and I'd skip it next time.

Zucchini, Sausage, and Feta Casserole

In other food news, Le Cordon Bleu has opened up a school right next to my office. The linked article is from 2005, but they just put the sign up last week, so I wonder if there were some delays in the project?

The cafe down the row from us is supposed to open this month, too, assuming cooperation from the city with regard to permits. Still no bagels, though....

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

It's been a whole month?

And it's been fun, and not too hard to keep up with posting here, so I guess I'll keep going with it. It has turned out to be mostly cooking after all, probably because out of my hobbies, that's the easiest to keep up with while doing everything else (not like I can just stop cooking dinner, after all, no matter how busy we are).