So today...hoping for another little Cooper fix later on in the day. A run over to the store. Laundry. I'll be cooking something for dinner...still celebrating the miracle of electricity...not sure yet what it will be.
Nathan's having a blast in the snow and I'm glad for that (even if I'm not liking it much myself). Since John had a dinner meeting, Nathan and I decided to order in. So a relaxing night for me! Other than whipping over to register for little league, but that was easy. We didn't get our Cooper fix today, Stacey is understandably (!) wiped out, so perhaps tomorrow. She and Bowen report that Cooper's doing great! He hung out with them all day today and they were happy to have lots of quiet time to absorb his cuteness.
He's so unbelievably adorable - his hair is actually red! How cute is that??? He's perfect, since he was delivered cesarean, none of that bruising labor for him. He's a little squeaker, just shy of 6 lbs., but healthy and doing well. I got to change one of his itty bitty diapers in the nursery, that was fun. And hold him a bit before his mom fed him. Just sweet, sweet, sweet. We're so glad he's here! Nathan's first cousin, he was pretty blown away today, Cooper is the first newborn baby he's ever seen. He was totally charmed, like we were, by his red hair, tiny hands, little snorts, and baby sneezes.
How cute are Stacey and Bowen, the proud new mommy and daddy? They're totally smitten with Cooper, it's so sweet!
Crazy day of no electricity, just came on at about 7 pm tonight. Hate that - ugh! Very uncomfortable and frustrating. No computer, heat, lights, nothin'. With 8+ inches of snow - gag me. Luckily there's Cooper to cheer us all up! I couldn't WAIT to take some pictures of him and write about him!
So now John and I are home, trying to decide what on earth we're having for dinner. Time to innovate! Thank goodness all my hard work yesterday, cooking for Stace and Bowen, stayed very frozen - I wouldn't let anyone touch that freezer while the electricity was off. Whew. I'll check back in when I figure something out!
Oh man, I love looking at those pictures of Cooper, he's so marvelously cute. Fun!
And I'm so grateful for electricity! It's like being sick, not having electricity, when you're feeling "normal," or the power's back on, you feel like celebrating. It was great to listen to Feminine Hijinx (our new Monday routine) and have a simple pasta dish, angel hair tossed with a quick saute of olive oil, thinly sliced garlic, red pepper flakes, and a bit of pasta cooking liquid. Little grating of Pecorino Romano, fresh pepper, and sprinkle of coarse sea salt. Delicious, comforting, simple, just hit the spot in every way. I'm sure I'll sleep much better tonight - last night between thinking about new baby Cooper, Stacey, the snow storm, and losing our electricity, I hardly slept at all. I'm wiped (although not like Stace is wiped, of course). Have a good night, everyone.
Update: Boom Boom is going to be delivered via cesarean at some point this afternoon, no word yet if he's arrived... I'm freaking out a little bit, which surprises me, so I went to the store and am making healthy food to freeze and take over to Stace when she goes home. Blueberry muffins, banana walnut bread, vegetable soup, empanadas (I'm making those for us for dinner, doubling the recipe, freezing some for her). I bought everything organic, I kept picturing that teeny little baby (since Stace will nurse him, he'll eat what she eats), no chemicals for Boom Boom! I'm so excited!!!
HE'S BORN! Cooper MeyerHoward, March 12, 2006, 12:25 pm, 5 lbs, 15 oz!!! He's healthy, adorable, blonde hair and eyebrows, and totally asleep right now (all this via Stace, I haven't seen him yet, of course). Welcome to the world, Cooper - a new little peanut! Stacey is doing well, resting, and so is Bowen. We have to wait until tomorrow to visit - darn. But I'll posts some pics of the little cuteness as soon as I can...
Well, adventures in empanada making tonight. (As I look at the empanadas in the oven, I'm giggling that I chose to make them - they not-so-subtly resemble a pregnant woman's round tummy; little Freudian action there, ha.) They're in the oven baking, and I think will taste fine, but there were definitely a few bumps (nice pun! What's my problem?) along the way. I clipped the recipe out of this past Thursday's StarTribune. First of all, the measurement for one of the seasonings, adobo, is way too much - 2 tablespoons. I foolishly did not taste the seasoning first - pure salt, I basically dumped 2 tablespoons of powdered salt into one pound of hamburger. Hey, no one likes salty tasties more than me, but this was inedible. I actually rinsed the cooked ground beef with hot water to try to remove some of the salt. I also quickly diced and boiled two potatoes and stirred them in, also to dilute the saltiness. The two steps helped, enough to make it edible, but oh my am I going to be a puff ball tomorrow. Damn. Then, it says to pull the dough into 20 tennis ball-size pieces (to make 20 empanadas). I could see pretty quickly that there wasn't nearly enough dough for 20 tennis-ball size pieces, in fact, the recipe made 11 large ping-pong ball size pieces. Which matched up pretty well to the filling, and made what I would call normal-size empanadas, so I guess it's just a mistake in the description. But irritating! So I'll post the heavily revised recipe, and check back in with a conclusion on their flavor...
OK: the crust is wrong, wrong, wrong. Too hard. Not enough fat in it (which made it incredibly easy to work with, I should have known), so very hard and brittle. I think I'll have to pass on posting this recipe - sorry! I'll work on it a bit more and post it at a later date. Damn! We'll eat them anyhow, they're tasty, they're just not quite right...
So, onto MUCH more fun, hanging with Suz and Kim, and their hubbies Coreman and Brian, and our first Feminine Hijinx guest Kyle McNary, for our fourth recording. Kyle was a fabulous guest, what a seriously cool, smart, and hilarious guy, and author, check out his website. We made the mistake of not allowing him enough time to talk - gee, what a shocker. I actually got the giggles this time, the real deal, could not stop myself. An appetizer for what was to come - total, knock down, drag out hilarity. POST-recording hijinx, it turns out...
Kyle had left and the girls and their boys and I were eating chips, fabulous Suz-baked lemon bars (served with a classic 1950s apron, rooster, red checks and all...recipe in comments, below), and gabbing. I was playing with my hair and noticed this big chunk of loose hair - kinda freaked out, I pulled it and ended up with a huge clump of hair in my hand. I held it up, thinking, OMG, I'm going bald, when Cory said, the drill. Of course! The drill that I almost accidentally killed myself with, and had bragged just moments before on FH that I only lost two hairs to (oops), had ripped this ball of hair right out of my head. I don't know how the hell I didn't notice earlier, or maybe it came completely loose only just last night, but whatever, there we had a big clump of hair. Garbage to anyone else, but not to Kim and Suz, who seized the clump and began a process of devising various clever uses for it. First up, Suz, who declared it was a merkin, and placed it on me in its intended place, and that's all I'm going to say (if you listened to episode three of FH, you know what a merkin is). We died laughing, gasping, choking, crying laughter. From there, a mustache, armpit hair, toe hair (modeled by Suz over her lovely lemon bars, with an Elvis candle in the background and glass of St. Innocent Pinot Gris in the foreground), butt hair, and ear hair. By the time we were done, I was toast, absolutely spent and exhausted and hurting. And it was GREAT. Truly one of the most fun nights of my life. (And PS, even though it doesn't look or sound like it, these shenanigans had nothing to do with alcohol - Brian, Cory, Kyle had water, Suz her usual three sips of wine, Kim and I, well, OK Kim and I had wine. And a beer. But nothing over the top. No, my friends - and I! - are just plain crazy, all on our own. I heart my friends!)
What the hell do I do today that could possibly compare to all the hilarity? I guess I shouldn't try and will just enjoy a lovely, quiet Saturday at home. Fix a little din, ooh, maybe a little brunch, I didn't really eat breakfast and am feeling a bit hungry. Hmmm...we'll see what John's up for. He's working today, and doesn't like to eat while working because it makes him too tired, so I may be on my own for a light lunch instead. How can I think about food in the presence of all this hair? Pure class, that's what you'll find here at the moderate epicurean! I'm going for a high/low brow kind of contrast you know... Stay tuned...
Brunch! We did have brunch. And oh boy was it delicious. It was a what-do-I-have-available meal, love those. Over-easy eggs on whole-grain toast. Salad of chopped romaine, parsley, and tarragon. And the star, crispy potatoes. Started out with chopped bacon, sauteed, then removed from the pan (and added to the salad). Diced potatoes went into the hot fat until crisp on one side, then sliced mushrooms, diced green pepper, and sliced onions went on top. Few turns of the spatula, little more browning, sprinkle of salt and pepper, voila. Here's the dilemma: do you eat the salad with the egg/toast (that's my fav, I think greens cut the rich yolk beautifully) or with the crispy potatoes? Or, the crispy potatoes with the egg? You decide. I washed mine down with a light, crisp glass of Carpene Molvolti Prosecco di Conegliano. And now I'm done.
Could it be? Why yes, yes it could - that is raw sunlight shining on this plate of chopped herbs! I ate this charming little salad, tossed with a splash of good olive oil, sprinkle of vinegar, grind of pepper, and shake of coarse salt...outside! Al fresco dining in Minnesota in March? A record for me, I'm quite sure. The sun, on the deck, has the temp up over 60 degrees, thank goodness I glanced at the thermometer before I dug into my bunny snack. It's slightly breezy, just enough to make it a smidge on the chilly side, so I didn't linger. But I had to go for it, my god, to say and know and experience that I ate outside, at home, on March 10. It will get cold again, of course (I'm optimistic, not stupid), but this little window on spring has my spirits soaring. La, la, laaaa! (In case you're wondering Suz, yes, that is arugula! Chopped with basil, tarragon, parsley, scallions, and chervil - hey, I had them all in the fridge, and I don't want to waste them, and there's nothing more refreshing than a pile of chopped, fresh herbs as a salad on March 10! Except, perhaps, a beer...mmm...beer).
Oh! OMG! I must take down the Christmas wreath hanging on the front of the house! I just ate outside, but have a wreath still out there - great, big no-no, oh my, Kim will write me a citation for sure. I'm running out there right now...
Whew. Wreath is gone. Good thing I finally got around to it, that was a tough project - took, and I counted, less than 5 seconds to carry the wreath into the garage. Why? Why? Why do I procrastinate so? Anyhow, I snapped a quick pic of it, Christmas Wreath 2005, you were a lovely one. And I also snapped a pic of the beer (power of suggestion, above) that I stole from my friend Cory - Cory, I'm bringing you a six-er of Stella tonight, to attempt to recharge the supply of all the Stellas you've so generously served me at your house - but it's now a five-er. I'm such a bad friend! All I did was think about spring and beer, and I remembered it in the fridge, and just as John predicted when he saw that I'd bought it a few days ago, I drank one. Damn me again! Oooh, maybe I'll stop on the way to your house and buy another one...that's the trick. So I need never have posted this...hmmm... I'll bring you a six-er AND a five-er and get 'er the hell out my house so I don't drink 'er. Except at your house.
As a reward for working on unfinished projects, I get to take in Wolfgang Puck's 20.21 at the Walker for dinner tonight! Woo hoo! With friends we haven't seen in ages, Jeff and Susan, it will be great to catch up with them and enjoy the delicious food and gorgeous setting. Better bust some KBs as well, it will not be a low-calorie evening, ha.
Here's a new way to curl your hair - wind it up in a drill, which is what I just terrifyingly did while installing a towel rack downstairs. I actually am pretty good at this repair stuff, but woops! Drilled the hole in the wall, pulled the drill back still pressing the trigger, got it too close to my hair - BAM, the thing was up to my nape in a flash. Luckily, the bit wasn't pointed toward my neck or skin, good lord. I paused, eyeing myself in the mirror, and considered what a complete fucking idiot I looked like at that moment. And even though it hurt, I did laugh. Sort of. I switched the drill to reverse and gently pulled the trigger, voila, hair unwound. I can just hear my mom say, "Stephanie! " Yes, I will pull my hair back next time I work with power tools. Eeeek.
Fab-u-lous to see Susan and Jeff for dinner at 20.21, they're great, and what a meal we had. A blur of courses and tasties, I made the mistake of not writing things down, or taking a menu with me, so this will be but an overview. Everything at 20.21 is meant to share, so share we did. First courses were a lovely seared foie gras (and you know how I feel about foie gras, rrrrarrrrrrr, John traded me his bite for a bite of my tandoori salmon - done!), hamachi tartare, crispy quail (delicate and perfect) and chicken curry spring rolls. For main courses we shared a crackly, crispy duck (bring it on, it was incredible), fried whole striped sea bass (mmm...), seafood curry, and pad thai. All outstanding, really, just a lot of different tastes to take in. Washed down with an Alsace Gewurztraminer, I also didn't write it down (sorry!), but it was rich and just-sweet and perfect with our melange of Asian flavors, from sweet to spicy and everything in between. For dessert we sampled ice-cold creme brulee with the requisite warm, broiled, crunchy crust - vanilla and chocolate versions, both delicious, and the now-ubiquitous (which is fine by me!) warm chocolate cake, also yummy. So here I am, stuffed, tired, content, happy. I'll be puffy as hell tomorrow (salt) and that's fine, totally worth it. What's puff on a Friday? Bah, puff! Love 20.21, definitely want to return. And the view...Minneapolis, you're a fine city, really, you are.
To me, most of the recipes that I post are pretty quick and easy, because I'm a mom cooking with limited time too. And for limited tastes and appetites (at least 5 nights/week, when we have kids; two nights, it's just John and me, and I can be more experimental). Many of the pasta dishes I've posted are almost entirely from the pantry with the exception of fresh onion and/or garlic and/or herbs - canned tuna, tomatoes, and beans, and dried pasta and rice, are high quality, low cost, convenient ingredients that can be reached for in a pinch.
I realize that I count a lot on my food processor and the most important tool - a super-sharp chef's knife. Working with a dull knife makes food prep take f..o..r..e..v..e..r. You only need two high quality knives - an 8-inch chef's knife and a paring knife. Make the investment (Target even has nice knives now, buy the best you can afford), buy a sharpening steel also so you can keep a good edge on it, and make your life 50 times easier. And regarding the food processor - people are understandably intimidated by all the attachments, bowls, and blades and therefore stash the thing in an incovenient cupboard, never to be used. Which is too bad, because the basic bowl and blade are all you really need, they're easy to clean, and with them you can make so many delicious and quick recipes - soups, sauces, desserts, spreads, it's pretty endless.
With a sharp knife, a food processor, and Jacques Pepin Fast Food My Way, one of my very favorite cookbooks, you can put a delicious, healthy dinner on the table in less than an hour, without a lot of extra dishes or fussing. Oh, and with a few of my recipes! Some of them sound fancy - like the lamb chops with mustard and tarragon - but that's a great example of an unbelievably easy recipe. Mustard, dried tarragon, garlic, olive oil. Smear it on chops with your hands. Broil. Voila, dinner. If you don't like lamb, try it on pork chops. Crushed potatoes with herbs? Literally, crush boiled potatoes with some chopped herbs and butter. Done.
Write to me in comments if you have questions - I LOVE talking about food (obviously), on every level. Love to dish about high end meals I have in restaurants. Love to dish about the perfect meatloaf recipe. Love it all! And I read all the comments and respond. If you're embarassed by asking a basic question, post it anonymously, I don't care! If I can't answer it, I'll ask my friend Chef Andrew or one of my other great-cook friends or family members! Bon apetit!
Nice dinner, nothing fancy, I did put some effort into homemade tortillas, we just ate them with chicken and sliced avocado. Simple and delicious.
Thank you to everyone who is listening to Feminine Hijinx! The response has been overwhelming! I'm blown away and so honored and excited! Keep in mind - it's raunchy, and not for everyone, which we say on the website. And it has an explicit rating on the podcast sites like iTunes. But if you don't mind a bit of bawdy (it's not THAT bad, ha), have a listen! Hey, I've got a multifaceted personality - mostly straightlaced, but I like to cut loose once in awhile. That's who I am, naughty AND nice (and a pretty major bitch sometimes - look out!). And it's no big surprise - I am a Badger! It takes a certain kind of person to thrive in Madtown, and a goody-two-shoes wouldn't last a Fuck 'Em Bucky day... Gotta like to talk (yell!) drinks, sex, vomit, and all things evil and nasty...with a big sweet smile, sorority letters, and a bag full of books. I loved it for good reason, heh, heh, heh...I AM it. AND I'm all proper and happily married and a good mommy and volunteer and I baked cookies, would you like one? (For a hilarious perspective on FH, check out what Kim's bro published on his blog about us...woo hoo for women keepin' it real!)
Baseball Moms tonight! I'm going early so I can get back to spend the rest of the evening with John. Not a bad way to spend a Monday evening - beer & chat with the girls, dinner & chat with my husband. I'm going to try a new recipe tonight (as you can tell, I cook most of the time from my own head, but I also appreciate fabulous recipes and trying new things), from Jacques Pepin Fast Food My Way - oven-baked salmon with sun-dried tomato and salsa mayonnaise. The salmon, topped with bread crumbs and hazelnuts, is baked at 200 degrees for 45 minutes, a nice slow bake, until just done. Mayonnaise garnish is a simple stir-together of just a few ingredients. Finished with a showering of chopped fresh herbs. Of course, it all depends upon the quality of the salmon. I'm not always pleased with the fish that I buy, no matter where I buy it. That's living in Minnesota... Here's the deal. I'll post the recipe if I like the dish...later tonight. I think I'll accompany it with a veg that will also taste yummy with the mayonnaise, perhaps broccoli. Yes, broccoli sauteed in a little olive oil with sliced garlic. Alright! Baseball Moms, salmon, broccoli, and John. S-weet!
Had a blast, and a beer, with the Baseball Moms, at McCoy's. Woo hoo for the Baseball Moms - tonight Bobbi, Beth, and Sonya! Good, raunchy conversation, always fun. And then home to make the Jacques salmon - and oh my, what a salmon (recipe, definitely worthy of posting, is in comments, below). I bought - and smelled first, I don't care if it's obnoxious, I wanted fresh - wild Atlantic salmon, had the butcher trim the skin off. It's a lovely recipe, the slow bake yields tender fish, and the hazelnut (filbert)/bread crumb topping is a nice complement. And the salsa mayo, yum! I made the whole recipe, knowing it would yield much more mayo than needed, thinking I can use it with chicken and on sandwiches. Good stuff. I did not do broccoli, instead had a hankering for artichokes (I was thinking of that mayo, love mayo with artichokes). Bought frozen artichoke hearts, steamed them for a few minutes (per package directions), just perfect with the salmon. Spring on a plate. And oh, how I am craving spring. Ouch, it hurts. John and I ate our Jacques salmon while listening to Feminine Hijinxepisode 3. I have to say, it makes me really happy watching him laugh while he listens to me talk shit with the girls. Makes me want to kiss him, ha. Woo hoo for FH!