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Just snapped this pic of colored vases in action. The ranunculus of course aren’t bad, but the it’s the vivid bud vases that really help brighten up this nightstand, particularly on on a rainy day.
Excited to wake up next to this tomorrow.
Note: can’t quite tell you where the vases came from, as this situation came with pre-stocked cabinets.
Something either terribly amazing or just plain terrible happened this week.
I discovered Dos Toros Taqueria and how ridiculously close it is to my house. I’m thrilled because they have great (CA style) tacos and burritos with highly quality ingredients – primarily local and/or organic – and great prices. I’m not so thrilled because having damn good tacos and quesadillas near by can be a bit dangerous.
So on my 18th trip in as many hours, I decided to pick up enough to share and bring it home for dinner. As an impulse buy when I was paying, I asked them to throw in some chips and salsa.
But when I got home, I realized it wasn’t salsa, but pico de gallo (fresh tomato salsa). And as far as I am concerned, that doesn’t work as a dip for chips. I love pico de gallo on plenty of things, don’t get me wrong, but I want something smoother and spicier when I think salsa.
It turns out we didn’t have any jarred in the fridge (that stuff goes quickly around here), but thankfully, salsa is a breeze to whip up.
Do you ever go out to a restaurant, order something that looks good, like it so much you want to make it at home and realize you already have everything you need? It’s as if your body must have really needed those nutrients to have been attracted to them in both places. Oh, that doesn’t happen to you?
Or not exactly.
A while back I ordered a lentil and kabocha salad and liked it so much that I wanted to make it again. The squash was spiced and roasted and I loved the lentils in a salad – they were almost al dente, so they created a nice contrast to the soft squash and even their normal soft(er) presentation.
But what had me really coming back for more was the ricotta salata.
In the summers I love to make a zucchini and summer squash spaghetti with lots of lemon, mint and basil and top it with a mound of ricotta salata, but I don’t use it too much in the winter. I think that may have been what sealed the deal for me on this dish, as (at least in my head) it made the whole salad a perfect representation of the departing winter and upcoming warmth.
Back at home, I did have lentils and a squash on hand, so it was basically meant to be, and we can just ignore the fact that I always have lentils and squash is pretty common around here during the fall and winter. I even had the mint – which is not a given in months with an “r.”
The only thing I needed to run out for was the ricotta salata.
So this counts for my threory, right?
When I made the spice-crusted lamb, I mentioned the grape-almond port sauce from the Sunday Suppers winter dinner. I love being surprised by things, and the grapes in the sauce definitely did that for me. And I left that dinner wanting to make it again.
Only the next time I made lamb, I couldn’t give up my mint. So I switched the sauce to a side and was equally happy with the result.
We didn’t have port on hand, and I am not sure if I would have used it in the rice regardless, but wine we do have and I figured it would amp up the rice … it works great it risottos. I subbed half the water (or stock) that I normally use in rice for red wine, giving the grain a vivid color and bright taste.
Farmer’s markets, restaurants, magazines, the weather, walking around, other blogs, friends, parties – while this could be a list of my favorite things, in fact it is a (wholly incomprehensive) list of where I get ideas for this site. But when chatting with B the other day, I let it be known that he could make requests. Many things on here are spur of the moment, what’s in the fridge kind of posts, but occasionally there are go-to-the-store-with-an-idea in mind type of thing too. And I let him know that I am always open to suggestions for those.
And in about 2.5 seconds he answered lamb.
I think he loves it because:
I hope you don’t mind, but I am in a bit of a tea frenzy. With Alice and Wonderland opening this week, helping my mom and aunt with an afternoon tea for my grandmother’s birthday, and dreams of spring garden parties, well, let’s just say it’s tea time around here. And so while I am tweaking recipes for some updated tea sandwiches in with the old favorites, and mastering a mean linzer cookie, I figured I better get all the accessories together that we will need.
We need lots of plates for the crustless nibbles and scones – I like to mix and match … grandma’s china with some flea market finds is the way to go here, plus a bit of my own china too. For a spring tea, breakout the florals and butterflies if you have it. We also need plenty of tea cups, for the tea itself and they also work as great vessels for small floral arrangements throughout the party.
Same goes for tea pots – the more the merrier! It’s not a tea party without several varieties to choose from – for daily cups my favorite is green tea kombucha, but for tea parties, pots of your favorite loose-leaf is the way to go. In addition to china and porcelain tea pots, this is the perfect time to bring out my grandmother’s vintage tea service. Extra teapots can also be used to hold larger floral arrangements.
But since we cannot subsist on tea and sandwiches alone, we better add in some cake plates and tiered servers – we need to showcase the macaroons, petit fours, and other confections we whip up. And we need make sure we have plenty of condiment dishes for jam, clotted cream and all the traditional accompaniments.
And because it is a party, we may need a few other beverages on hand. I am thinking a raspberry lemonade in glass dispenser, and a silver jigger to spice up the spiking!
If your cabinets or grandmother’s pantry isn’t quite as ready for a tea party, flea markets or your local thrift stores are an excellence place to find these items on the cheap.
Another day, another snow storm.
Seriously, I never knew winter could last thing long. I know there are plenty of places that are much, much colder with much harsher weather, but this is enough for me. Particularly when I step onto what I think is the sidewalk, but is really a foot deep puddle of snow and sludge.
I dream of sunshine and tea parties and some asparagus! Oh, and tomatoes, notfromacan but honesttogoodness real tomatoes that.grow.on.a.vine. Who knew these would become my dreams.
But we aren’t quite there yet…
I have been thinking about chile verde since well before the Super Bowl. Like drawing a grid on a poster board and paying $1 per square, there is something about a spicy pot of pork and salsa simmering on the stove that is synonymous to me with that January (or rather February now) Sunday.
So I was planning to make this in DC at a friend’s house – they just moved East and we were going to help them get settled and welcome them to the cold. The perfect time for chile verde (especially as it pairs particularly well with beer – a requirement on Super Bowl Sunday). But then there was that silly Snowpocalypse, and we cancelled the trip. I wasn’t ready to be stuck on a bus for any extra time, regardless of wireless internet, power plugs and extra leg room.
And once you start thinking about chile verde, you can’t just let the feeling pass. You really need to make it. My only mistake was waiting a few weeks.
Boneless skinless chicken breasts. Not really a whole lot to say there – they just don’t bring much to the table. But, they are practical – they are lean, fast, easy and (relatively) cheap. Not anything to get too excited about, but a realistic dinner for most people many-a-nights.
They are the kind of thing that you keep in your freezer, something to have on hand. They generally aren’t something that goes from store to table in the same day for me. Nope, I’ll save that honor for pork or fish or the whole chicken.
But there are boneless, skinless chicken breast kind of days. Everyone has them. It’s nothing to be ashamed of.
This snow storm we are having caused me to have one. Not exactly the kind of weather that makes you want to go to the store. And someone wanted more than the soups and veggies I have been offering of late. Thankfully they defrost quickly – which again, makes them perfect freezer candidates.
The only problem was, I wanted something more than the standard pan sear that they normally get. Something with a bit more umph. I could have cut them thin and pounded them, for a piccata or milanese, but to be honest I didn’t really want to stand over the stove, even if they only take about 2 seconds to cook. I wanted to pop them in the oven and forget…