I hope everyone had a good Oscar weekend. The show was pretty predictable. Poor Marty S. lost for a fifth time. Tom was so upset about it that he had to leave the room & vowed to never watch the Oscars again(we've both said that before).
Now the cooking update. I didn't make Nigella's poached egg dish, but Tom's on vacation so I'll make it this week. I did make my Mom's sausage & pepper recipe & it turned out great. I'm definitely putting it in the cookbook. I also made my co-worker, Chris Major's, minestrone soup recipe. It was so good & easy to make. Here's the recipe for it: INGREDIENTS 1 lrg onion-diced 3 med carrots- sliced 3 celery stalks- chopped 2 potatoes-skinned & diced 2 cups of fresh spinach- chopped 5 cloves garlic- chopped 1/2 cup parsley-chopped 5 lrg leaves fresh basil-chopped 10 slices pancetta- diced (hickory-smoked bacon can also be used) 1 15oz can cannelini beans-strained & rinsed 1 15oz can diced tomatoes 20oz of beef or chicken stock dash red pepper flakes salt & pepper to taste 3 TBLS olive oil -Put olive oil in lrg soup pot & put on med heat. -Add onion, celery & carrots. Cook & stir for about 8 minutes. -Add garlic, chili flakes, pancetta & dash salt/pepper. Cook for 5 minutes. -Add potatoes. Cook for 3 minutes. -Add canned tomatoes, spinach & beef/chix stock(I used 15oz beef & 5oz chix stock). --Add dash salt/pepper & cook & stir for 10 minutes. -Put half of beans in blender with a few spoonfuls of liquid from soup. Blend & stir into the pot. -Simmer until thick. About 10-15 minutes. -Add basil, parsley & remaining 1/2 of beans & dash salt/pepper. -Cook for another 10 minutes.
It seems as though I've not been cooking much lately. We have been dining out quite a bit, but I have been cooking too, just nothing very interesting or complicated. I've really been itching to have an all day cooking spree, so it will take place this weekend. I'm going to try Nigella's poached eggs over kale & chorizo (first mentioned to me about a month ago by Bakerina ). I also want to test a family recipe, maybe sausage & peppers served with fresh Italian bread. And I'm still craving my fellow co-worker's minestrone soup & hope to get my hands on the recipe on Saturday. Just in time for my cooking extravaganza!
The past couple of days I've been having such strong food cravings. No, I'm not pregnant, I've always had them. I've gone through the salami & pickled peppers sandwich phase & pretzels & cottage cheese thing. My latest is fresh sauteed spinach (which I crave quite often) & homemade minestrone soup. I think the spinach thing could have something to do with my body needing iron. The minestrone soup can be attributed to a co-worker. On Friday he told me about his recipe for it, which includes a white bean puree & pancetta. He went into such detail describing it that I begged him for the recipe. I told him that if/when I post it on my site he would get full credit. I've never really had true kickass, homemade minestrone soup. It's just not part of my family's repertoire. I'm off to work today & hope my co-worker is there with recipe in hand.
Yesterday Tom & I braved the cold & millions of tourists & headed to see Christos' The Gates. This art exhibit cost 20 million dollars(all of it provided by the artist himself)& took over 20 years to come to fruition. I will admit that I was somewhat skeptical, since I did see them briefly at night about a week ago. I'm not sure I would compare Christos' work to a Picasso or a Van Gogh, but there was something intriguing about it. It really was exhilarating to see bright orangey, saffron structures scattered throughout the gray concrete, trees & buildings of NYC. It made me feel giddy inside to walk under them. Everyone was strolling around Central Park smiling & laughing. What is art? That's such a difficult, unanswerable question, don't you think? What may be a masterpiece to me may be viewed as garbage by someone else. All I know is that The Gates invoked a feeling of joy & warmth in me kind of like laying on a white, sandy, tropical beach. Anything that could put so many smiles on so many faces in the dead of winter is art to me!
It's so cold here in NYC (23 degrees) that I decided to stay inside & be creative. I made some cards for fellow Snail Mailers & recipe cards for The March of Dimes Raffle. I'm thinking of including handmade recipe cards for my web store so let me know what you think of them. I'm really getting into this card making stuff. I can spend all day working on them. Tomorrow we are going to see the art exhibit THE GATES no matter how cold it is outside. O.k. it's time for me to make some hot chocolate, so I'll catch you all later!! All In A Day's Work!
Auntie Jean & I took a break from shopping on Saturday & went into a little cafe to have some tea. We began talking about my cookbook & the progress I've made. I told her about some of my frustrations with the recipes, the latest being pepper biscuits, which I've made three times & it's just not quite right. I told her that I know I'm missing lots of dishes from my childhood that my grandmother doesn't remember how to make. Auntie Jean went on to tell me about the handwritten recipe book Momma put together for her after she got married over 35 years ago. What!?! My grandmother actually wrote out accurate recipes for someone in the family??!!! And they include lots of recipes that are no longer, for whatever reason, part of our daily lives, as well as old favorites!?! So, I was a little shocked to say the least, because this divine book could save me lots of time & aggravation. It would be so wonderful to follow a family recipe that actually worked on the first try. No more phone calls to Rhode Island going over every ingredient only to hear- "Did you add a cup of water? Well I know it's not in the recipe, but everyone knows to add a cup of water."
I'm sorry I didn't post on Love Day. I was busy running around & card making. I hope everyone's day/night was memorable. Tom was very secretive about our V-Day plans. He made reservations at a restaurant & wouldn't tell me where until the last minute. He took me to this small French place on the outskirts of the theatre district called Le Madeleine. The restaurant has some significance because it was there that he first told me that he loved me! We had a great food, wine & dessert. We've been splurging on food all weekend so it's time to reel it in a bit. We both made cards for each other. Tom's reminded me of the ones I used to get in grade school(which is exactly what he was going for). On the inside it said,"I love you. Do you love me?" And there is a yes or no box to check off. He also got me a small box of chocolates from my favorite place in NYC called the Chocolate Bar. It's a small Mom & Pop place & their chocolate is all natural & to die for. It's also so beautiful. Each piece is a little work of art!
I had fun shopping with Auntie Jean on Saturday. We spent most of our time in Chinatown. We bought some cool knockoff designer bags & lots of pretty, sparkling broaches & earrings. You can wheel & deal in Chinatown so it makes for an interesting day. We went to my restaurant for dinner & we were treated like royality. WOW, did I eat a lot!! After dinner we walked by Central Park & saw "The Gates" by Christo. Has anyone heard about this art exhibit? It's 7,500 16-foot-tall orange metal structures that are draped in bright orange pleated nylon. I'm not sure what to make of it, but I did see it at night & it's meant to be viewed during the day. Tom & I are going to see it next weekend. I'll take photos & post them & you can all tell me what you think. So, I think that my aunt & uncle had a good time. I hope so because it would be nice for our families to start coming to NYC to visit us more often.
I received some great things from snail mail. Hope & Jes sent me fabulous collage postcards. Marilyn, who lives in the Virgin Islands, sent me a gorgeous beach photo. It couldn't have come at a better time. I got it Friday morning & it was so cold here. I instantly felt warm just looking at her picture. Thanks all!!!
My Auntie Jean & Uncle Bob are visiting from R.I. this weekend. They have never been to NYC so I'm excited to show them a good time. Last night they went to see the Lion King, which I hope they liked. I'm taking them shopping NYC style today, well in 5 & 1/2 hours to be exact. Then Tom & I are taking them to my restaurant for dinner. I kind of stress when I'm showing family & friends The Big Apple for the first time. I feel this odd pressure to show my town in a favorable light. Like I'm the mayor or something. I know it's a little weird. I'll let you know how everything goes & if we find any fabulous shopping bargains.
I've been receiving emails & phone calls about Martha's new Apprentice-like show. Coworkers are telling me to audition for it because this could be my "big break". I vowed after Wickedly Perfect that I was done with reality television. I'm not a fan of it at all & they never really show anyone in a positive light & the contracts you have to sign are horrendous. So why am I considering Martha's show? Sure the $250,000 a year paycheck would be fabulous, but I've never dreamed of working for her. And I honestly believe that Ms. Stewart is doing the entire show to help improve her image & not to find the next big lifestyle talent. And yet, I'm still considering it. Come on girls, talk me out of it!!
Starting today, Thursday February 10th, Kate is starting a raffle to raise money for The March of Dimes Walk America. She got lots of bloggers to donate cool prizes. Yours truly is donating handmade/decorated recipe cards. So stop by her site when you get a chance.
I've been making this dish for years. It's light, quick & easy. I'm going to post the original recipe but, I often change the veggies that I use depending on the season & what I have in my kitchen.
1 bulb fennel, quartered 4 thin salmon filets
1 yellow squash, sliced crosswise 1 TBLS minced garlic
1 zucchini, sliced juice of 1 lemon
1 red onion, chopped grated lemon zest from 1 lemon
2 scallions, chopped salt & pepper
4 garlic cloves, crushed 4 12x6 sheets parchment paper
4 large basil sprigs or aluminum foil
-Preheat oven to 500 degrees
-Toss veggies with basil, salt & pepper.
-In separate bowl, coat filets with ginger, lemon zest & juice, salt & pepper.
-Spread some veggies over bottom of parchment paper/foil.
-Place salmon on top & place leftover veggies upon the filets.
-Pour any remaining lemon juice over filet & veggies.
-Fold over & seal edges of paper/foil.
-Spray top & bottom of sealed filets with Pam olive oil or brush olive oil on.
-Place on baking sheet & cook for 10-12 minutes.
-Place on plate & with a knife slash an X to open & serve.
This little bug that I have really knocked me on my ass for an entire weekend. I had planned to make Nigella's poached egg recipe that Bakerina told me about & take advantage of NYC's tax-free shopping weekend, but I wasn't up to it. It just goes to show you how very important having your health is. I was able to drag my butt to the candle making class & I do mean drag. I was disappointed because out of a 4 hour class the hands on part was only 15 minutes! I was hoping to dive in the craft a little more than that. I received a good information packet that will be useful & I learned that insurance is needed if you are going to sell candles to the public. So, I will be making candles for family only, not selling them in my webstore. Here's a picture of my finished votives. My favorite is the green one which is scented with something called "funky monkey". It smells very tropical & reminds me of Costa Rica.
I was suppose to work all day & night today, but, I got sent home after lunch because I lost my voice. It started last night & today I was barely at a scratchy, whisper. I'm stuffed up & have a sore throat, but I can deal with all of that. I can't talk & it's kind of freaking me out. I love to talk. My Mom says that I learned to talk long before I could even crawl. I'm sure Tom will enjoy a weekend of peace & quiet. Well, I don't know about the peace part but, it definitely will be quiet.
I'm registered for a candle making class all day tomorrow, so I hope I'm well enough. I doubt I'll need my vocal chords for that. I'm going to change into my p.j.'s & camp out on the couch. Tom is suppose to pick up some chicken noodle soup for me on his way home from work. It's times like these that I wish that I still lived near my family. One phone call & my grandmother's homemade chicken soup would be delivered to me & I would be feeling better instantly. I still have to perfect that recipe, so maybe I'll make it on Sunday.
I'm feeling a bit blue today. I had a very rough double at the restaurant yesterday. I got injured(not too seriously, I think) & had words at the end of the night with a new manager. Which could have been avoided if I could learn to let things roll off of me & to shut my mouth. I woke up today aching, congested & basically not feeling very good about myself. There are days when working there seems unbearable & all I want is to spend my day creating & doing the things I love. I decided that it's time for me, once again, to read The Four Agreements by Don Miguel Ruiz. A while back I followed the book for 5 months & things really began to change in my life(this website was born around that time).
The Agreements are:
1. BE IMPECCABLE WITH YOUR WORD Speak with integrity & say only what you mean. And do not gossip(that's so tough for me).
2.DON'T TAKE ANYTHING PERSONALLY Nothing others do is because of you. You won't be the victim of needless suffering if you learn not to take things others say to heart.
3.DON'T MAKE ASSUMPTIONS Communicate with others clearly to avoid misunderstandings, sadness & drama.
4.ALWAYS DO YOUR BEST Do your best & you will avoid self-judgment & regret.
O.k. that's all of them. It's much harder to follow them than you might think. I do know that following them helps me to change my attitude & focus on what's important in life. I also hope that it will help to put me back on track & refocus my creative energy & move me closer in the direction of my dreams.
I love having fresh herbs on hand, so, for the past couple of springs/summers I've placed a window box outside with basil & parsley. This year both grew so well that I vowed to move them inside before the first frost. Well, the first frost happened while I was away, so my herbs didn't survive(I'm not sure if they would have made it inside my warm, dry apartment for very long, anyway). Tom got me a indoor herb garden starter kit for Xmas. I picked out the four that I thought we'd use the most; basil, parsley, chives & cilantro. I have been diligently following the instructions that came with the kit & even bought a plant light that I keep on for 10 hours at a time, but the things look so pitiful. Tom comes home from work & checks them then looks at me as if I'm doing something wrong, but I'm not. I think we should have waited until springtime to start the garden. Here's what they look like. Pretty sad isn't it?