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"

Monday, September 27, 2010

The Return of Supper Club?

Me being me, one of the first things I did after we moved was go hunting for people to cook with. Having no luck with Meetup.com, I went back to the good old Cooking Light forums and found an old post for a group in the area that was looking for new members. A couple of emails later, and the arrangements were made for a meeting at the end of September.

Every group has slightly different customs, and of course lots of them try to change things up a little bit with every meeting. The host for this one picked an herb theme. I offered to do an appetizer, on the theory that a) I don't get many chances to make those and b) if I ended up missing the dinner due to baby's arrival, I wouldn't be deleting an essential part of the meal. Once we had all settled on a course, the host sent out randomly selected herbs to be part of each person's dish; mine turned out to be rosemary.

A wonderful, easily available herb. Yay. As the weeks went by, I did some searching. I found plenty of recipes that sounded good, but they tended to have one thing in common: they were really easy. I didn't necessarily hope to knock everyone's socks off with gourmet flair (alas, this is not the Noble Pig), but I was anxious to show that I do like to cook and would be a committed member of the group. So I decided I would do three different dishes; none of them would be difficult, but the variety might be nice.

I did all of my shopping on Saturday; alas, no rosemary at the farmer's market, but I did find some fresh at Stop&Shop. Sunday dawned mercifully cooler than the previous day (late pregnancy does little to enhance one's ability to appreciate unseasonal warmth--I would rather it snowed tomorrow than hit 85 again).

The cashews were first. Five minutes' work, if that, and they smelled fantastic. Next up, the dip. Again, five minutes, and the food processor did nearly all of the work. The bread was the only thing that required anything resembling effort, and that not much. I haven't made bread in ages.

Everything was well received, but the bread made the biggest splash (someone wanted to know where it had been purchased!). In addition we had butternut squash ravioli with sage, brown butter, and hazelnuts; a dish of chicken, mushrooms, and tomatoes with tarragon; an orzo salad with tomatoes and oregano; and cookies made with basil (which was... interesting). I met a bunch of the group and had a very pleasant evening; most of them have kids and one is due any day now, so there was plenty of built-in conversational material there.

I'm not likely to make any meetings arranged for October, but we'll see how things go after that.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Last week, this week menus

Closing in on the end of this pregnancy (2 1/2 weeks to go, more or less). Tthings are going well. We've been shopping for baby things, we got the van inspected, and the baby's room is slowly taking shape (though it does still have the curtains the previous tenants left, which are black). We think we have a name.

I haven't bothered to pack a bag for the hospital; previous experience suggests that labor is proof against pretty much all distractions, that you may as well go home in the clothes you arrived in because you still look pregnant, and that the baby will be professionally swaddled the whole time and oblivious to any adorable outfits you attempt to impose.

Last week's recipes turned out thusly:
This week should include:

Tonight, assuming I don't have a baby, I'll be meeting with a new supper club for the first time, but I'll try to blog that separately.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Menus for a new week

As usual, I bought things willy-nilly, or perhaps giddy would be a better word, buying whatever caught my eye. Now this week's market jigsaw is nearing completion:
  • Sunday: Eggplant and fig caponata, an old favorite I make every summer when there's good eggplant to be had. Red Potato and Tomato Gratin, a new one from a source I am coming to like more and more. Some sort of pork tenderloin to go with.
  • Monday: Spiced Kuri Squash and Chicken Stew, which I didn't get to last week. Good thing squash keeps well.
  • Tuesday: North Woods Bean Soup. I'm tentatively designating Tuesdays as "Lydia's Choice" night, and this is a recipe she usually eats. 
  • Wednesday: Mushroom and Fettucine with Red Pepper Flakes. I found this blog a few weeks back, and this will be the first recipe I've tried from it. I am very curious about their wine, and will be keeping my eyes open for it once I'm on a more relaxed regime there. School open house is this night, so best to do something simple.
  • Thursday: Tacos. Take it easy.
If I can get my act together, I'll put together Couscous Salad with Chickpeas and Tomatoes for lunches, to use up a few more veggies.

I will be tucking extra chard into a number of these recipes, and I have yet to find a place to use the bok choy - perhaps alongside the curry, in a pan-Asian nod? - and the daikon - pickle it? - but this is the overall shape of the plan.

Baby is very stretchy this morning, making her mother very uncomfortable, and creating a distinctly lopsided bulge in my belly. At this point, one occasionally feels like a balloon about to pop.

Last week's reviews

We bought a minivan. After all these weeks, plus an additional two hours of paperwork, we went back to the first dealership and bought the first one we had looked at. I think it will serve. The sales guy was gushing over our credit scores, which I like to think are so good precisely because we buy less than we can technically afford in areas like vehicles. We'll go pick it up Tuesday.
Next, some notes on last week's new recipes.
I didn't get around to the squash curry yet; maybe tonight. Yesterday I filled my bags to bursting again, so this morning I'll have to sit down and work out what to do with everything. This afternoon we're going shopping for baby stuff--finally. I'll be 37 weeks on Tuesday, so in a little more than a week, she'll be welcome to show up just as soon as she likes.

    Sunday, September 12, 2010

    Still crazy after all these years?

    On Thursday D* and I celebrated our tenth wedding anniversary. It's been an eventful decade for us (the rest of the world goes without saying)--two moves, two layoffs, two children and all of the changes they brought, and will continue to bring us for many years to come. This year has been more eventful than most--as D* says, "Surprise baby is surprising." There have certainly been difficult times, but on the whole we reckon ourselves blessed, or lucky, in that the good times have far outweighed the bad and overall things have kept getting better.

    We spent yesterday afternoon car hunting, with little to show for it. Hardly anyone seems to be selling what we want. We set aside our disappointment and made our way back to Cambridge. A brief stop at the Wine & Cheese cask (where I confided in the teller that I would kill for a margarita and received a sympathetic look), a mosey down to Harvard in the cool afternoon air, and then we enjoyed a wonderful meal at Dali, a place we last visited while I was pregnant with Lydia (some day I'll get more than a sip of sangria, dammit). Some day we may be able to take the kids out for dinner and they'll actually eat something, but on this occasion they were being babysat by their saintly grandparents, so we had anchovies and baked goat cheese and prunes wrapped in bacon and rabbit and seafood ravioli and... I'm starting to feel stuffed again. And then we had dessert.

    We also made it to the Union Square market in the morning, and came back with a fridge full of vegetables, so I am happily spending time now doing the jigaw-puzzle-like menu arrangement that must follow. This is what I have so far (subject to change, naturally!). 

    Spicy Oven-Fried Chicken
    Fingerling Potato Salad with Leeks and Fennel

    Open-Faced Jerk Vegetable Sandwiches
    Roasted Tomato Soup

    Pan-Roasted Pork Chops with Cranberries and Swiss Chard
    36 weeks!

    Spiced Kuri Squash and Chicken Stew

    The latter half of the week will be improvised, and next weekend will be another busy one--if we haven't gotten the car sorted out by then, we'll have to change strategy in order to get it done with, because we really can't waste much more time on this. Should probably also buy a few baby clothes and stuff!

    Thursday, September 2, 2010

    Overdue Post: Vacation Wrapup

    Life continues to be crazy; so what else is new? Still settling in, have started car hunting, and there's all the joys of the third trimester with which to cope. I have been spending a lot of time reading other blogs and being generally envious of other peoples' time and energy. But I wanted to post about our vacation before it falls entirely out of my thoughts. The paucity of pictures is due to my failure to pack the battery charger for my camera.

    8/14 Saturday: We drove up in the morning. L melted down on arrival, got over it and spent most of the day playing with her grandma. JJ spent most of his time on the sand pile, a remnant of last year's landscaping and leveling efforts. Dave's mom made dinner, we had pie and ice cream to celebrate his birthday, and lit sparklers out on the dock after it got dark. We had to move L's bed--she had first said she wanted to be upstairs, then changed her mind, which I pretty much expected was going to happen. JJ didn't even wait for lights out, but snuggled down and went to sleep, one exhausted little boy.

    8/15 Sunday: Food shopping at Moulton Farm and then the grocery store in Center Harbor was followed by a quick lunch, and then hitting the beach with the grandparents before they had to head for home. Left Dave alone to relax and write and stuff. Later on, Dave's uncle took the kids for a boat ride. I am told that L used the words "accelerate" and "turbulence" during that. For dinner we had tomatoes and fresh mozzarella cheese, drizzled with olive oil and sea salt; corn on the cob; steak with a pan sauce of shallots and red wine. Dave told me that if he was ever sent to prison, memory of that meal would sustain him. The man knows how to give a compliment!

    8/16 Monday: Rain moved in, so we went to Fun Spot for a couple of hours. Dave took L for a canoe ride, which she liked a bit too much, and did not want to stop. Didn't do much in the afternoon; the kids watched DVDs on my laptop. Dinner was an improvised pasta salad with green beans, cherry tomatoes, more mozzarella, olive oil and lemon juice. Strawberries and ice cream for dessert.

    8/17 Tuesday: Got a lot of writing done, made pancakes. Another gorgeous day, so we went to the beach again for the morning. Journal says, "Cicadas all day, crickets all night." In the afternoon Dave took the kids to the library. A late trip to GPC for ice cream capped the day.

    8/18 Wednesday: Was declared "the worst day ever" by our overly dramatic daughter, who got up much too early, refused to eat breakfast, and spent most of the day in A Mood. Not actually a bad day by any objective measure; played on the dock and the sand pile, went to Meredith in the afternoon. Made the usual pilgrimage to Innisfree Bookshop, did our bit to keep the place in business. Stopped by Oglethorpe and spent an imaginary ten thousand dollars, and then Lee's chocolate store to spend a few real ones. Dave and the kids went to the GPC playground for a while--more writing time for me!

    8/19 Thursday: More beach time. L spends all her time in the water, enjoying the kickboard Grandma got her for her birthday, and trying to make friends with everyone remotely her own age. JJ doesn't trust the lake, will only go in up to his knees, and that with much coaxing; he prefers to play in the sand. I took L to the quilt shop, where we found some nice things, and she got to practice apologizing for breaking a dried eggshell they had in a display. I bought a couple more patterns to add to my "some day I will have time for this" collection. The first of our friends arrived for their weekend visit, the first time in ages we've been able to arrange a get-together.

    8/20 Friday: Windy and chilly in the morning, but nice later on, though far from hot. Our other friend arrived at lunchtime. We went to the Old Country Store. L wanted to go to the library (the Moultonborough Library has a wonderful kids' section); the plan was that the guys would return to the cottage, but they got wrapped up doing a jigsaw puzzle and we all ended up staying for a while. Played with the kids; L had one of her wands and went around soliciting wishes from everyone. After dinner we had a fire and made s'mores, which L called "smears." It was absolutely wonderful, seeing old friends and my own family, everyone having a grand time. I took JJ off to bed, and everyone else played Trivial Pursuit, with L assisting.

    8/21 Saturday: Quiet morning, uncertain weather, another visit to Fun Spot in the afternoon. We played mini-golf on the decaying course, and I got a couple of games of pinball in. Lee Wah's for dinner--it's pretty awful Chinese food, but you can't mess with Tradition. More Trivial Pursuit in the evening.

    8/22 Sunday: Our one friend had to catch the bus back to NYC in the early morning; the rest of the time was occupied by cleaning, a trip to the dump, and so forth. Traffic was horrendous, but we made it home eventually and collapsed into our beds.

    I didn't exactly feel rested when we got back, but I did feel good. It was a great vacation, and I feel enormously fortunate to have such wonderful people and places as part of my life.