Monday, December 21, 2009


We got our first shipment from the CSA this week. As I thought it would be, it has already been an interesting experience. Since we're not going to be eating many meals in the house the next week (bad timing on my part), I've had to get creative with some of the produce.

I pickled the beets (and ate the greens sauteed with a little garlic, olive oil, salt, and pepper) and have a jar of hot peppers in vinegar aging in the fridge. The three cute potatoes from the shipment (R ridiculed this a bit, and rightly so) became hash browns, which are about a million times better when made with fresh potatoes than with dehydrated ones. I suppose that should have been obvious, but we'd never tried it before. I'm also pretty sure they cooked faster.

I also made a rather tasty cauliflower soup inspired by a recipe I forgot to bookmark on foodgawker (saute onion & carrot, add cauliflower and a little broth, puree, add cream and cheese, season). All in all, a lot of fun. I look forward to the next box (and eating more meals at home so that we're not in such a rush to use up the contents).

Saturday, December 19, 2009


Though our world revolves less around sleep now then when the baby first arrived, it is still the focus of much more mental energy than it should be. The little one's sleep habits are maturing, bringing with them new rewards and new challenges. Last night she slept for a record six and a half hours in a row, but she correspondingly sleeps less during the day. She's shown herself capable of getting to sleep on her own, but it tends to be a more fragile sleep and letting her cry a bit often winds her up to a point where she really can't get to sleep on her own. It is so hard to tell when to start implementing routines, figuring out when she is mature enough to deal with structure.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Need to cut back on the rich foods

My triumphant return to mountain biking has been delayed. We really do need the rain, but I wish we could have switched the order of days, so that today's sunny and mild weather came before the driving rain.

Since I didn't have a nice long workout, it was clearly time for me to make all sorts of rich foods. I made bittersweet cranberry brownies, much to R's chagrin. I like them (though they did turn out pretty wet, probably since I used frozen cranberries), but he feels the strong cranberry flavor obscures the chocolate. I'd never taken him to be a chocolate purist before - guess I'm rubbing off on him. Lucky for R, though, there are more brownies in the future, as the chocolate kept seizing up while I was making chocolate popcorn with sea salt. After the first bag of chocolate chips seized up I put the chocolate in the fridge for a future batch of brownies, blamed the splash of cold milk, and started over. When the second (and last) bag of chocolate chips also seized, I had to make the best of it and added some oil to re-liquefy the chocolate. I had to refrigerate the resulting popcorn in order for it to harden, but my grandpa didn't mind. Cool chocolate popcorn is still delicious. (I'm thinking there was too much steam coming out of the double boiler. Cooking with a crying baby tends to mean I'm not paying quite enough attention to what I'm doing.)

To top off the no-exercise-rich-foods weekend, we dined last night on a lovely home made pate. We had been missing the pate at Costco and the local grocery store at our new place doesn't seem to carry it, so this week I resolved that it was finally pate time. Rather incredibly, in my opinion, the little butcher shop by my house didn't carry any sort of liver, so I wound up going across the street and getting a tub of chicken livers for $2. It turned out delicious. So there.

Chicken Liver Pate
Adapted from Jacques Pepin
  • 2 sticks unsalted butter
  • 2 very large shallots, chopped
  • 12 oz chicken liver
  • 1 t herbes de Provence
  • 3 big fat cloves garlic, peeled and crushed
  • 1 t salt
  • 1 t fresh ground pepper
  • 3 t bourbon
1. Melt butter. Saute shallots until soft. Add liver, herbes de Provence, and garlic and cook over medium-high heat until liver is done (about 2 minutes). Add salt and pepper.

2. Transfer to blender. Add bourbon. Blend until liquid.

3. Pour into a dish. Let cool 1 1/2 hours, then refrigerate overnight to allow pate to set and flavors to develop.

3. Serve on a crusty baguette. Take some to you in-laws to show off you mad cooking skills.

Tuesday, December 08, 2009

Holiday stuff

I know it has been a little while since Thanksgiving, but since people have been known to have turkeys around Christmas (or later in the year, if they have the freezer space, since it is such cheap meat this time of year) it would not be totally inappropriate for me to recommend this recipe for turkey and spinach curry. I definitely identified with the article when they spoke of turkey on Thursday, turkey sandwiches on Friday, and then looking for something non-traditional to help with some of the leftovers. Not that turkey soup and turkey pot pie aren't delicious, but sometimes one is looking for a little spice. Unfortunately, the author was clearly lying when he said that the tomatoes in the curry would break down, so I wound up eating the whole thing myself.

If you're still looking for things to give as gifts this year, I thought I might help you out and list a few I've found. Nothing like a delicious homemade gift (helps with the budget, too).

Vanilla syrup - Makes me glad that I bought vanilla beans in bulk online. So much cheaper!
Dulce de leche - I spent the better part of this evening making this and made a royal mess of my stove. I used an 8 quart pot, but I really wish I'd used my stock pot as the dang thing kept boiling over. Took much longer than an hour for mine to reach the proper color and consistency.
Pumpkin butter - I've been dipping apple slices in this for my snack this week. Much more respectable than eating it by the spoonful.
Mandarin orange dust - The gift for the foodie who has everything. Well, it's pretty much this or a cookbook for my step mom.
Chocolate popcorn with sea salt - Grandpa is a chocoholic.

A couple of non-food ideas as well.
Fabric binder clips - I saw this browsing through dandee's archives, only to have my step mom express her love of binder clips the following weekend. This will probably wind up being her birthday gift, as I don't think I'll be able to get them done in time for Saturday's gift exchange.
Surprise balls - R's side of the family is just doing stocking stuffers this year (new baby + house purchases = all the siblings feeling the pinch), so I decided that the should at least be wrapped in an fun manner. Or annoying, depending on your perspective.
Marble magnets - These are really cool and I'm planning on making a few for myself. I used mod podge to glue them, but it seems like it may not be strong enough to last.

Saturday, December 05, 2009


Litter box failure with the cat. I imagine this is what potty training must be like. Some days, success, other days, failure. The cat is clearly of a like mind with my nephew, who isn't interested in being potty trained quite yet. He uses his little as a step stool.

Wednesday, December 02, 2009

It's the most wonderful time of the year

The most wonderful thing has happened here in the A&R household. (No, I'm not talking about the baby.) The second cat has finally started using the mechanical litter box! We bought a Litter Robot at least six months ago, hoping to reclaim the bathroom that had been taken over by the cat box. The one cat started using it immediately, but we realized several days later, when he had an accident, that the second cat wouldn't use the machine. We tried showing him that there was litter in there, shutting him in the bathroom all day, making him sit by the litterbox - nothing worked. He was terrified of it. He obsessed over it, spending hours at a time sitting at the bathroom door, watching it. We put a small litter box for him to use by the machine, hoping the proximity would help to ease his fears. We intentionally didn't clean it often, hoping to encourage him to transition to the machine. Eventually we took the box away, at which point in time he started using the drain in the tub. We had pretty much given up hope, when poop stopped appearing in the bathtub. I kept an ear out, and the next time I heard a cat in the box I peeked my head in and saw his head sticking out of the machine. Success!