Cornish Game Hens, stuffed with baby carrots, pearl onions, and garlic
"Bandit-style" Roasted Veggies (baby carrots, baby potatoes, pearl onions, garlic, in a yogurt sauce)
Polenta with Mango/Ginger Stilton Cheese
Super tasty salad (grape tomatoes, baby bell peppers, cucumbers, avocados and feta cheese)
Saturday morning, we were tossing around entree ideas for the evening, and Tom suggested game hens. From there, the idea was sparked to go all-out with a 'diminutive foods' theme. What can I say? We're easily amused. ;)
Preparations were fairly simple for the meal. The hens were cleaned, rubbed with olive oil inside and out, and adorned with salt & pepper. Tom then pan-seared them, after which I rubbed them with rosemary and sage. They were then each stuffed with 2 baby carrots, one pearl onion, and one garlic clove, quartered. We tossed them in a baking pan on a bed of extra veggies, covered the pan tightly with foil, and put the pan in the oven. The little wrappers said the hens were supposed to roast at 350F for 45-55 minutes, but the wrappers were way wrong. After the first 45 min they were nowhere near done*, so we bumped up the temperature to 375 and ended up roasting them for about another 45 min. By that point, they were suculent and delicious and freaking awesome. My mouth is watering even now at the memory. We cooked 4 birds, but when we finally spread everything out on the counter, we realized it was an awful lot of food, so we ended up cutting the hens in half, which worked out great.
Demetri provided us with "bandit-style" roasted veggies. The Greek klephts (bandits) were apparently known for slow-roasting stew-type foods in lined holes underneath fire pits. While our bandit food was cooked in an oven, and not a hole in the ground, the vegetables were mixed together with yogurt and rosemary, which (according to our resident Greek) is how the klephts would have prepared them. In any event, they were super tasty and tender.
I'm not sure exactly how Max made the polenta, but I know there was a layer of mango/ginger stilton in the middle. This is a most impressive cheese. It is exceedingly rich, significantly more like cheesecake than, say, cheddar or something. I thought it was a neat contrast, with the sweet and the corny, and when Tom & I reheated the last of it with our dinner last night, we added a layer of prosciutto as well, which gave it another dimension of delicousness.
The salad was a cinch, and sooooo good. Max chopped grape tomatoes, cucumbers, onions, baby bell peppers and avocados, tossed them in a bowl, added crumbled feta and stirred the whole concoction together. Simple and scrumptious.
And there you have it. What will this week's fantastic feast be? Stay tuned. :)
*For anyone interested, they're done when a meat thermometer imbedded in the thick leg muscle reads between 170 and 180F, and "when the juices run clear." There's a Luxan joke in there somewhere...
No concerns about the world getting warmer, people thought that they were just being rewarded for treating others as they'd like to be treated, for obeying stop signs and curing diseases, for mailing letters with the address of the sender - now we can swim any day in November. --The Postal Service, "Sleeping In"
Or February, apparently! Today was so warm and pleasant that I've been wearing shorts since this morning, and all our driving around town has been done with the windows rolled down. I'll be jazzed if it starts raining on Monday as promised, but for the time being, I'm sure enjoying such nice weather on a lovely day off.
This week's dinner will be a Lilliputian-style affair, featuring cornish game hens, baby carrots, baby corn, tiny pearl onions, and wee finger potatoes. I shall update with details (and photos this time!) later tonight or tomorrow.
What a stressful couple of weeks it's been at work. The days have just been packed with problems. I've reached the weekend feeling utterly drained.
Fortunately, weekends are fun. :) Tonight we're going to see some comedy at The Ice House; Tom Papa is headlining, and Tammy Pescatelli will also perform. They are both exceedingly funny, so I look forward to laughing the stress of the week away. Friday Night Dinner will probably be rescheduled for tomorrow night, and who knows what fantasticness awaits us then? I have a final to take on Sunday, which won't exactly be fun, but I don't think it'll be too bad either.
We're about due for some more wedding blogging soon - I'm going to Portland 3 weeks from today to get my dress! - so I'll try to put something together on that front within the next week. 'Til then, enjoy yourselves, and bear with my wee and uninteresting blog posts. ;) I'll be entertaining again before too long.
I hate dreaming because you know, when you want to sleep, you want to sleep. Dreaming is work, you know? Like there I am, laying in my comfortable bed in my hotel room, and it's beautiful. Next thing you know, I have to build a go-kart with my ex-landlord. --Mitch Hedberg
Agents, I'm telling you, you don't want these three involved. And they don't even have their ridiculous Tinker Toy gizmos. This place is like 'How The Grinch Stole Radio Shack.' --Morris Fletcher (about The Lone Gunmen), "The X-Files"
Yesterday in the mail I received an invitation from Television Preview to attend a screening of two new TV pilots next week. My name was apparently chosen at random from a "national mailing list" (buh?), and I was sent tickets for myself and 3 friends. The screening site is within walking distance of my apartment, which is terribly convenient. How could I possibly pass up such a thing?
I'll be sure to post a full account of the event. In the incredibly unlikely event I'm sworn to secrecy about some aspect or other, I'll post a partially edited account. ;)
It actually got cold enough last night to freeze the condensation on my car. I even had to dig out the ol' ice scraper (which I'd of course tucked waaaaay deep in the trunk thinking "I won't have to use this thing any time soon"...ha). My little cinderblock room of an office was pretty chilly this morning, too. Brr. Even so, I'm glad to have a little taste of winter. The rain that fell over the weekend washed away all the smog from the air (as well as a hefty coating of road grime from my car...ewww), and there's even a pretty dusting of snow in the mountains. It's hard to be in a bad mood, even on a Monday, when the sky is so damned beautiful, filled with such a wide assortment of billowy clouds in various shades of gray. If it were like this more often, I don't think I'd mind L.A. quite so much.
It's a pity my company doesn't give us Presnits' Day off; it would have been a fine extension to the weekend if I'd been able to spend today curled up on the couch under a cozy blanket, alternately reading and gazing out the window at the gorgeous sky. Ah well. Here's hoping the fine weather is a sign that this week will be better than last week. ;)
Prof: Signs of death are - 1) Lack of reflexes, 2) No heart beat/sound, 3) No respiration, and 4) Flat line on electroencephalogram Student: Do you have to have all four in order to be 100 percent dead? Prof: Order is not important.
All you have to do is unask the question. All you have to do is unring the bell. --Caviar, "Hey Let Go"
I've been reading a lot of stuff lately that I wish I could just erase from my brain. I would have been much happier to remain blissfully unaware of the horrifying things people do to their own children. Alas...some things cannot be undone.
Grilled hearts of palm (have had them stir-fried with other stuff, but never pan-grilled and eaten on their own...freaking delicious)
Our appetizer extravaganza was quite the success. Demetri made a sausage and spinach saute and 3 different goat cheese dips (one with sun-dried tomatoes, one with peppers, cilantro, lemon and olive oil, and one with tabasco and cumin), Tom made guacamole and grilled red bell peppers, asparagus, portabella mushrooms and palm hearts, I made 2 different kinds of bruschetta (regular tomato/onion/garlic and lemon parsley) and a honey/ginger/cinnamon dipping sauce for the veggies, and Max made crab cakes and chipotle mayo dip. I love that these guys are so fond of the cooking!
I don't have the crab cake recipe, but I can offer up details for the lemon parsley bruschetta and the honey dipping sauce. They're super easy and take almost no time to make.
Lemon Parsley Bruschetta Ingredients: bread (as much as you want) olive oil lemon juice parsley salt pepper garlic
Cut the bread into appropriately-sized pieces and toast dry. Mix equal parts of lemon juice and olive oil in a bowl, whisk together and add salt & pepper to taste (I didn't add very much at all). Cut a garlic clove in half and finely chop some parsley. When the breads are toasted, rub them with the garlic. Now, you don't want to go too crazy with this; I wasn't convinced the garlic taste was going to be passed along to the bread, so I went a little overboard. As a result, the first few pieces were really garlicky. (Not that that's a bad thing, necessarily...) Brush the breads liberally with the lemony olive oil and sprinkle a bit of parsley atop them to garnish.
Honey Ginger Cinnamon Dipping Sauce Ingredients: honey ginger powder cinnamon powder hot water
Pour some honey out into a bowl. If I were to guess I'd say a couple of tablespoons should do, volume-wise. In a separate cup, pour maybe a teaspoon of ginger powder and about 1/8 teaspoon of cinnamon. Add a tiny bit of hot water to the mix, stir it up (a chopstick works really well for this), add more water as needed until it's thinner than a paste but not too watery. Pour the ginger/cinnamon mix into the honey and stir, stir, stir with the chopstick. Avoid the temptation to add more water right away, because the sauce will thin out considerably with the stirring. It just takes a little bit of time. You can add a tiny bit of water after 3 or 4 minutes if it's still way too thick.
I know those aren't the most exciting of recipes, but I'm sure my culinary skills will improve with subsequent Friday night dinners, so I'll have more advanced things to share with you soon enough. ;)
*Update: I should add that I'm horrified by the process required to make foie gras. Between that and its disturbing similarity (in both smell and consistency) to cat food, I don't think I'll be eating it again. However, I'm endeavoring to not be opposed to trying anything once.
Since the breadbowl extravaganza of two weeks ago, we've agreed to make a standing arrangement to meet at Max's on Friday nights to cook and eat tasty things. Friday night dinner...just like on The Gilmore Girls, but without all the fighting and emotional blackmail. Tonight the boys are making crab cakes and an assortment of appetizers. It'll be my first time eating crab cakes ever, and the way Tom's been hyping them, I'm sure it won't be the last. It'll also be my first previously-untried dish since my return to meatatarianism, so I'm excited. :)
This week was somewhat harrowing, and I'm so very glad it's over. I spent most of yesterday wondering whether one of my coworkers was alive or dead; he usually calls when he's going to be out sick, but we heard nothing from him, and his family didn't seem to know where he was either. So that was rather disconcerting, especially since I've spent the past week reading about all the ways someone can die suddenly and unexpectedly. (Thank you Spitz & Fisher.) He showed up to work today absolutely astonished that anyone would bother looking for him if he'd been gone less than a week. I was glad he was alive and all, but I was also ready to kill him for making everyone worry. And also for having a piss-poor reason for missing work and not calling in. Grr.
On a happier note, my dad's starting a new job today. He gets to test drive brand new trucks and then report back on all their shortcomings. How cool is that? So much better than hauling fuel or driving in Iraq. You go, dad! :)
Okay, off to the grocery store to pick up dinner fixings. Have a most excellent weekend, all.
In my head there's a Greyhound station where I send my thoughts to far-off destinations so they may have a chance of finding a place where they're far more suited than here. --Death Cab for Cutie, "Soul Meets Body"
I'm not sure how to write this without sounding like I've been paid to do so, but oh well.
It was the Christmas of aught-four, and Mom decided to buy subscriptions to Netflix as gifts for the grandparents. She asked if Tom & I wanted in, but I declined, insisting we wouldn't watch enough movies for it to be worthwhile. She tried to convince me of its awesomeness (as others had also attempted in the past), but I was sure it would end up being a waste of money.
A year later, I finally came to my senses and decided to give Netflix a try. I signed us up right before my week-long Christmas vacation and started building a movie queue. I must say, I was thoroughly impressed with the number of titles in Netflix's collection. They've got television shows, exercise programs, classics, sports shows...you name it. Almost everything I tried to find, I found. (There are a few random and/or old ones that are not in the catalog, but I'm fairly certain they're simply not available on DVD at all.) I came across such gems as Rainbow Brite and the Star Stealer and Schoolhouse Rock!, and you're also given the option of "saving" to your queue movies that haven't been released yet. We haven't seen Capote or Munich or King Kong in the theater, but as soon as they're available on DVD, they will be zipping to our mailbox.
My favorite aspects of Netflix can be summarized as three points:
Pre-paid envelopes - If I had to stamp these suckers every time I went to send them back, they'd sit around on top of the TV for a heck of a lot longer than they already do.
No late fees - Even though the flat rate does tend to encourage me to want to return movies quickly, so as to really get my money's worth, it's nice to know that if I don't manage to get around to watching movie X, I'm not going to be penalized for keeping it. We had Born into Brothels for 2 weeks before we mustered up the emotional fortitude to watch it.
(and this is the biggest seller for me) I am way more apt to rent random-ass movies that I'm not sure I'll like than I would be if I went into a video rental establishment. Really, the price difference isn't all that dramatic (since we average about 8 movies a month, they end up costing just under $2 each), but it seems like a savings. As a result, we end up seeing a lot of movies that are surprisingly good, which we probably never would have seen in a Netflixless world.
I read recently that Netflix is kind of asshatted to their highest volume customers (the people who apparently have nothing but time on their hands and go through 4 or more movies a week), subjecting them to longer wait times on shipping, and that strikes me as a bit uncool. I mean, if people want to take full advantage of your company's services, I say more power to them. Overall, however, I am a fan. Mom, you were so right, and I should have listened to you. ;)
The ring-tailed coati* is an omnivore. As of 3 and a half weeks ago, I am one again, too.
As you may recall, I recently decided that it was time for my seven-years-and-change-long meat fast to come to an end. Thank you, Anthony Bourdain, for making a very good case about all the culinary delights on which I've been missing out.
Since those first tiny bites of pot roast three Saturdays ago, I've eaten small pieces of chicken in various forms, including buffalo-style at the Super Bowl party, and last weekend I even ate a few grilled beef cubes that had been marinated in teriyaki and barbeque sauces (not together...two separate batches, each marinated in a different sauce). Boy howdy, were those ever tasty. Most of my meals are still meatless (though I did have chicken fettucini for lunch one day last week), so I've not made too sudden a change to my diet overall. This has worked out rather well for me.
The great bulk of my apprehension about starting to eat meat again came from fears that my insides would wage war upon me as a result. For the benefit of other vegetarians thinking of jumping off the meat-free train, I'm happy to report that I've experienced almost none of the gastrointestinal consequences I was expecting. Without getting too graphic, I can say I've had some general abdominal pressure, but that's really about it. I think as long as you don't go all buck wild and eat a rack of ribs the first day, your body will make all the necessary adjustments of chemistry and what-have-you to make the transition relatively smooth. Granted, I can't speak for those who have been vegetarian since birth, but for those who have only done the veg thing for a while, it's a fairly safe bet that the switch can be made without too much heart (or gut) ache.
There are still plenty of vegetarian options that I think I'll always prefer over the meaty equivalent. Taco substance tastes better than ground beef. Black bean patties kick any hamburger's ass. The less grease I can get with any meal, the better. Nevertheless, I intend to continue to expand my culinary horizons, sampling both the old favorites of mine and the stuff I never got around to trying before. There's definitely some salmon in my future...
It's always good to feel that you totally rocked an exam. (Well, it's nearly always good. It's bad when you think you rocked it and in fact severely bombed it.) I spent a good chunk of the last week and weekend studying up on decomposition, putrefaction (sooooo lovely), and all sorts of other postmortem joyousness. I had a midterm to take this evening, and I'm fairly certain I kicked its ass. There were only a couple of questions on which I was a little shaky, but for the most part I think I did well. So yay for that! This is a tough class with a TON of info to cover (we've been assigned just shy of 200 pages - 8.5" x 11" book - of reading this week), so I'll be thrilled to keep my head above water.
I will also say that all this reading about decomposition has served to reinforce my desire to be cremated once I shuffle off this mortal coil. No thank you to slowly becoming a stinky and gelatinous mass, says I.
On that lovely note, I'm off to make dinner! Mmm...tacos...
These people round here wear beaten down eyes sunk in smoke dried faces, resigned to what their fate is, but not us, no not us. We are far too young and clever. --Dexy's Midnight Runner, "Come On Eileen"
I had to go into work this morning for about 15 minutes to mix up a gallon of material for production, so I took Tom with me to give him the grand tour of the place that slowly drains my soul away each day. After, we continued westward and I toured him around Moorpark, where I spent 4.5 years of my youth. There is nothing quite so unholy as ever-expanding suburbia. We drove by the house where my family lived and 2 of the 3 elementary schools I attended (they broke up the grades very strangely in that district - several K through 3rd schools, one or two that were 4th/5th grade, and my 5th grade year they opened up a 3rd through 5th school...it was all very odd).
We returned to Pasadena and decided we were in need of some culture, so we went to the Norton Simon Art Museum. This is part of my "while we live here, we've got to do all the cool stuff we're going to miss once we've left L.A." kick. We spent about 2 hours wandering through one wing of oil paintings and strolling the sculpture garden, and then we headed for home. The entry fee is small, so I think we could easily go through a wing every week or so, and that way it's not too overwhelming. It's a good way to spend a couple of hours. :)
Upon arriving home, we ate some lunch and watched Born into Brothels, which we've had for 2 weeks now and had not yet managed to sit down and see. It was, as expected, good but depressing.
Now we're off to a birthday party (no bouncy castles will be involved, this time), so all in all, it's been a pretty full Saturday. Tomorrow I've got a midterm...and there's the laundry/vacuuming/dishes/etc. to do. Why aren't the weekends ever long enough?
Well, that was quite the unintentionally long blog hiatus. I started out waiting to get photos for the bread bowl post and then just...neglected to write anything else in the meantime. Sometimes a little break is good though, I guess. :)
I have decided to resurrect the Daily Quotables from my old website. Long before the existence of Blogger (okay, a year or so before), I had my little website with photos and my "online journal," and every day I'd post some sort of quote that usually had something to do with how I was feeling that day. It could be a song lyric, something from a movie or book, or something someone actually said...whatever. I kept an archive, which I stumbled across yesterday and spent a few minutes browsing. It was surprising to me how vividly I could remember certain days, based on the quotes I'd chosen. If you take a gander, you'll notice something of a (ahem) lovelorn trend through late 2002 and most of 2003, when I was studying in England and several thousands of miles away from Tom. But I digress. The point is that I was motivated to start up the Daily Quotables again because some day several years from now, I'll be able to look back and in a glance remember how I was feeling. That, and it'll be fun. So without further ado, I give you:
Daily Quotable - 2/10/06 We just have to keep our heads to the grindstone and keep on grinding. --Minnesota Vikings QB Daunte Culpepper
Last Friday night we gathered at Max's for some fun and slightly fancy home cooking.
As I mentioned before, Tom went over to make the dough on Thursday night so it could rise all day Friday. He made 3 batches, enough for six bread bowls total. He separated each batch into two balls, which he then put next to each other in one bowl. In retrospect, he should have placed each bread ball in its own bowl, because even though the dough rose nicely, it flattened out considerably once the balls were separated.
As you can see, the dough's pretty flat. We hoped it would rise some in the oven, but just in case, we thought we would try baking the bread in a pyrex bowl. It wouldn't be the "classic" bread bowl shape, but it just might be deep enough to actually hold a reasonable quantity of soup. On the off chance the dough would rise well enough on its own, we left one ball on a baking pan, as an experiment.
Double-stacked dough in the oven.
Well, the dough did not rise as hoped, so the loaf baked on the pan was sacrificed for snacking bread. Shucks.
However, baking in the pyrex bowl worked surprisingly well. The top was all lumpy-looking and not the pretty dome you'd expect, but at least the bread did take on something of a bowl-like shape. We baked the other 4 loaves in this manner, and they all came out looking fairly pretty.
Before I arrived early Friday evening to bake the bread, Max had begun working on the soup. It was a corn chowder with some mild chiles and...probably some other stuff that I'm not remembering right now. (I'll post the actual recipe later.) In any case, it was chowder-y and delicious!
For our side dish, Demetri whipped up a salad with a very tasty dressing. It was a concoction of corn salsa, avocado, cilantro, mustard, and I think ranch dressing. There was also, to go atop the salad or be eaten separately, grilled chicken (courtesy of Max) that had been marinated in a combination of beer, ranch dressing and herbs, which sounds a little funky but was very tasty! I ate 2 small pieces (more on my return to the wide world of carnivorousness in another post), and it was some tasty stuff.
With all the other fixins prepared, it was time to carve out the bread bowls and fill them with soup.
Look! A bowl!
And it holds soup!
All told, we had quite the spread. You can see, in the right of the frame, a plate piled high with bread loaf tops and innards. For dessert, there was a cobbler that I'm told was very delicious, but I was simply too stuffed to eat any and then forgot to bring a plate home with me. Ah well.
I was a big dork and forgot to take my camera over to Max's, but luckily he was kind enough to let me take pictures on his. I finally snagged them from him yesterday, hence the ridiculous tardiness of this post. ;) At any rate, I would say the dinner was a resounding success, and we'll definitely have to do it again. :)
As you may have noticed, this week's postings did not include a (veg friendly) recipe. This is because tonight we're making what may turn out to be a rather spectacular meal over at Max's place, and I plan to document it with photos and everything. Last night, Tom went over to make dough in preparation for...
...homemade corn chowder in homemade bread bowls! (Feel free to smile and nod and look appropriately impressed. Or not. Whatever.)
So look for the full account on Saturday or Sunday. Should be excellent fun. :) Other'n that, nothing particularly noteworthy has gone on today. Fairly uneventful overall, except of course for my epic sneezing fits. Good golly. That has got to stop. Much like this very boring post. And since I have some control over the latter, if not the former, I shall excercise it. Happy Friday!
Several of the blogs I frequent are written by teachers. They are witty and hilarious and very enjoyable to read. This post is directed to the authors of those blogs.
I am inspired, as I sit halfway through the first session of my Principles of Forensic Medicine class, to heap praises upon you and your kind. I can barely tolerate the whining and overall manic behavior of my classmates (It's only the first lecture, people! Chill out!), and I can only imagine how much less I would be able to put up with their interruptions and grandstanding and repeating of questions that were clearly answered in the reading (had they bothered to do it) if I were expected to actually lead the lecture session. This is a graduate level class, and the majority of my classmates act as though they've never had to write papers or do assignments or participate in discussions in an orderly manner. I don't know how instructors and professors put up with this kind of behavior. It boggles the mind.
To those who teach, I am in awe of your ability to tolerate and educate the frequently loony masses. I wouldn't be able to survive a single semester without losing my mind. You rock, seriously. And thank you.
Is it just me, or are you willfully incompetent when it comes to fulfilling your one and only job, which is to deliver post in a timely and efficient fashion? Two weeks shy of one year ago, Tom & I moved from our previous residence to a new place about a mile away. We filed all the necessary Change-of-Address forms, and most of our mail did get forwarded to us in the few months it took for us to inform everyone of our new location. However, our former roommates continued to receive a few articles of our post each month. Usually these were just junkmail items, but this past December, some 10 months after we moved, our former roomies informed us that three Christmas cards of ours had been mailed to their address by mistake and were not rerouted.
Now, I understand you're busy, you deal with thousands upon thousands of letters and parcels per day, and you cannot be expected to be perfect all of the time. I've been willing to overlook these mistakes, mostly because we've always gotten our misrouted items eventually, but something occurred yesterday that I simply cannot abide.
At the old apartment (where the ex-roomies still live), we used to get mail all the time for one Celine Dove. No matter how many times we returned her post to you with notes carefully written on the envelope ("Not at this address" or "No longer at this residence"), we continued to recieve her mail.
Yesterday afternoon, when I got home from work and checked the mail, this is what awaited me:
I'm sorry, what?! You've now progressed beyond mistake-maker to willful idiot. I swear, if this sort of incompetence is par for the course in your daily operation, I have complete and total sympathy for people who come in to work toting heavy artillery. I wouldn't be able to handle half a day of that crap, let alone decades.