Saturday, December 31, 2005
I can't say our garden will win any awards for its design, beauty or plant collections, but it suits me just fine. I saw that the hellebores are really starting to pop up and the daphne is showing color. Our sarcocca is smelling very lovely and in the squirrels cool their jets, we may see some early bulbs soon enough.
Tonight, we're going to Nell's for dinner. Honestly, we have eaten at home twice in the last eight days and those were haphazard meals. I guess its nice to be festive and eating close to home will help. We went to the first of the winter farmer's markets and picked up some stuff for the new year. I plan to start it off with a nice tom yum gai, a sauteed chard dish and something that uses a roasted chicken.
Happy New Year y'all. May 2006 blow 2005 out of the water.
Friday, December 30, 2005
1. Did you have a new year's resolution this year?: Sure, lose weight, get a new job, not start shooting up heroin or start smoking. I managed three out of the four, all but the weight.
2. Who kissed you at midnight?: TH, if we were both awake. I can't remember.
3. Did it snow where you live?: No, thankfully.
4. Have you ever been to Times Square to watch the ball drop?: No, I love NY , I hate NYE.
1. Who was your valentine?: I had three - TH, Jcdm and Rppm
2. What did your valentine get you?: I can't remember, I think it was a external hard drive.
3. When you were little, did you buy valentines for your whole class?: Of course, didn't everyone?
1. Are you Irish? No.
2. Did you wear green on St. Patty's Day?: No.
3. What did you do for St. Patty's Day?: I can't remember, I may have been in Rome or was it London. I can't remember.
1. Do you like the rain?: I have to, I live here.
2. Did you play an April Fool's joke on anyone this year?: No.
3. Did you get tons of candy on Easter?: Yes, a very large egg from Cammerino that had a very small bear in it. We must have hidden 300 eggs for our easter egg hunt this year. I found one a few months ago!
1. What's your favorite kind of flower?: spring flowereing bulbs and hellebores
2. Do you like the spring? Of course, I'm a life long gardener.
3. Finish the phrase: "April showers bring...": plant sales every weekend.
4. What would you think of as a spring color?: The chartreuse of the first flush of bracts on the euphorbia and the butter yellow of the ranunculus that pop up in the lawn.
1. What year did you graduate from school?: Uni - 87, grad school the first time 93, the second 98.
2. Did you go on any vacations last June?: Nope, I had a bit of business travel.
1. What did you do on the 4th of july?: Flew back from Woods Hole/Boston in the morning to have dinner at home with some friends and run to the secret parking garage to watch fireworks.
2. Did you go on any vacations during this month?: Nope, all work related travel.
1. Did you do anything special to end off your summer?: Went to London for a few days to see my aunties.
2. What was your favorite summer memory of '05?: Nothing positive as the spring/early summer was hell.
3. Did you go swimming a lot in the summer?: No, I wish I had.
4. Did you go to the beach a lot?: Not at all.
1. Did you attend school/college in '05?: Yup, Winter, Spring and Fall - finishing up my certificate in Preservation Planning and a project management class.
2. Who is/was your favorite teacher?: I have two that stand out, one is DCS who is a professor in Landscape Architecture at the University of Washington and Gail Dubrow, who helped guide my thesis work. Unfortunately, she's moved on to deanship and it is a loss to scholarship in historic preservation in general.
3. Did you like fall better than summer?: Yes, because fall here is much prettier.
1. What was your favorite halloween costume ever?: When Jacques went as a s'more.
2. What's your favorite candy?: Depends, I like anything sour.
3. What did you dress up like this year?: Nothing, I was at home handing out candy and getting ready for a redeye to DC.
1. Whose house did you go to for Thanksgiving?: My parents.
2. Do you like stuffing?: Yes.
3. What are you thankful for?: My family, my health, my parent's health and love, my partner , our relationship, our friends, my education and as hokey as it is, having the "freedom" to travel throughout the world .
1. Do you celebrate Christmas?: Yup.
2. Have you ever been kissed under mistletoe?: Yup.
3. What did you want this year for christmas?: My condo to sell.
4. What's the best present you ever got for christmas?: I can't remember, they are all excellent.
5. Do you like cold weather?: Not really.
6. How would you rate your year on a scale of 1-10?: 5. Not too great, i'm sorry to say. However, there is always room for improvement. ;)
Thursday, December 29, 2005
Where did we eat?
clarklewis -- the Portland darling, all over the foodie news and lived up to its reputation at lunch. We had both read reviews of dinner there -- so dark you had to use a flashlight to read the menu in the middle of the room, loud and poor service. None of these issues were apparent at lunch. I would give it two thumbs up! We took Max from the airport to near the convention center and then took a bus there, how is that for dedication?
A small lemon tarte at TH's Portland hangout, the Pearl Bakery for a mid afternoon snack. Yum. Tangy, small with the right amount of crust/curd.
Window shopping around the Pearl District (where did all those chains come from?), a frustrating Powells visit (where did all those cell phones come from?) , a nap, a bit of book reading, followed by a visit to Pioneer Place mall. Mind you I said visit, not a shopping trip!
Dinner followed at Park Kitchen, in the North Park Blocks. It was amazing. We had the chef's tasting menu which was really good - baccala fritters served with malt vinegar, duck crepes to start. That was followed by two salads with different things including a duck liver vinegarette (I'm telling you this nose to tail thing can be a bit strange). Our mains were great - pork for me and lamb for TH. Dessert was also great- chocolate pot de creme for TH and a pumpkin/cranberry upsidedown cake for me. I would highly recommend it there.
We were going to toddle to the Heathman bar for a drink, but the night was getting cool and I was getting tired.
One more trip to Pearl and then a not as bumpy ride home.
Where did we stay?
Westin Portland. This is a serviceable hotel, we got a decent room based on TH's status (better than mine) and since they now allow dogs, may be our hotel chain of choice in a few months.:) There are lots of great hotels in Portland -- go to the visit Portland Big Deals site to find more.
How did we get there?
The SEA/PDX shuttle (free microbrewery beer) and MAX. Max rocks - 1.80 from airport to downtown. I love it.
I'm done flying for the year. No tickets booked yet for the new year, I'm working on it!
Looks like two more college boys complete with a low rider, tinted black windows and Texas plates.
I think the house owners of the rental next to our house really really hate us because if we have a problem with their quality tenants, we tell them - morning, noon or midnight.
Good thing we have their number memorized, the number of the non-emergency police, the fire department and the neighbor on the other side is on the same side of the hating them as we are.
Can it be possible to get renters who 1. will not be young and stupid 2. will bring in their garbage cans in a timely manner 3. be quiet when entering and leaving the house 4. realize that they have moved into a neighborhood, not frat row?
I really think they hate us.
Wednesday, December 28, 2005
We had an interesting conversation at dinner on Boxing Day about organic v. locally grown food, that is if organic food is trucked from a 1000 miles away is it necessarily better for the environment than conventionally grown food grown 20 miles away. Which is a better choice for the planet?
Anyways, it got me thinking. I know that this concept has been beaten to death by the well known food bloggers who have taken up a challenge of eating locally (100 mile radius), could you do it?
I think we could.
We can get locally grown chickens, eggs, beef and lamb. Fish may be a problem, but could we count G's washington troll caught salmon into the mix? Cheese as well.
Veggies -- we would be okay most of the year with farmer's markets and we would be eating a lot of kale, cabbage and mache in the winter. Carrots too. We would have to wait until early spring for sprouting broccoli and we could definitely grow that as well.
The hot weather veggies would be preserved. No problem since I already can tomatoes for sauce and salsa, I could do some whole ones as well (cursing as I did it). We get lots of peppers in the summer and fall, so I could roast and freeze those. I still have squash from the fall as well, both frozen and fresh.
Herbs we still have until the first hard frost. Lots of pesto in the freezer as well.
As for fruit, we have tons of rhubarb, strawberries, blueberries, blackberries, pie cherries etc. in the freezer and we would be eating these things all fresh from the garden during the season. I am jealous of those who took the challenge in the Bay Area because of the citrus, our little trees just couldn't keep up.
I'm trying to figure out the best time to do this challenge. I would say early summer would be most fun, the cheese at the markets are all nice and the stuff from the garden is amazing -- asparagus, arugula, cherries, fava beans.
For more information on eating locally please see life begins after 30's blog or the Locavores web site. Me, I'm going to check out Nabhan's Coming Home to eat today at Powells. Shop locally as well kids. :)
Tuesday, December 27, 2005
I have reclaimed the couch in my study. Almost. This is good, I have a pile to shred, most everything is put back into place and I may be able to see the top of my flat surfaces by the end of the night!
I'm going to work soon. I am feeling better and hope to do much the same at work, clear out email, start on a project, update calendars and scope out a project.
Dinner tonight will be yummy I hope, left over soup, artichokes, salad and roast pork with potatoes. We're off to Portlandia, weather and all (no weather) tomorrow am for a visit to TH's city of transit and hopefully to eat some beautiful food and to see a lovely walkable city.
I really wanted to get a new calendar this year for my office, but decided to give up curious george and go for the free Ace Hardware one. Seems strange, i may change my mind, but its free and has some useful coupons.
Are you the kind of person to buy a calendar as soon as you see it person (say, October) or do you wait until they are discounted after Christmas?
Monday, December 26, 2005
Patient Mr. Scruffy, the Idaho potato terrier, Christmas 2005.
Dinner tonight will be festive, but different. We managed to get MM to make us a nice big pork loin, so we'll be feasting on Bruce Aidell's recipe from his meat cookbook for tuscan herb infused pork loin with a few less garlic cloves.
I still feel like crap and sound like a tubercular, so TH has grounded me from talking or moving for the rest of the day. I actually feel fine, I just sound terrible.
Here is the recipe - it makes an amazing sandwich the following day.
Tuscan Herb Infused Pork Loin
2 1/2 tablespoons olive oil, divided use
1 (4-pound) boneless pork loin, trimmed of excess fat
1/4 cup finely chopped fresh rosemary or 2 tablespoons dried
2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh sage or 1 tablespoon dried
2 teaspoons crushed fennel seed, see cook's notes
1 tablespoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
10 large garlic cloves, peeled and thinly sliced
1/4 cup dry white wine
1 cup chicken or beef broth
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
Cook's notes: To crush fennel seed, process in a small food processor or place in a heavy, zipper-style plastic bag and pound with a mallet.
Preliminaries: Preheat oven to 450 degrees.
1. Brush meat with 1 tablespoon olive oil. Combine herbs, fennel seed, salt and pepper. Rub over meat. Drizzle meat with additional 1 tablespoon olive oil.
2. Brush shallow roasting pan with 1/2 tablespoon olive oil and scatter sliced garlic on bottom to provide a bed for the roast. Place roast on garlic, fat side up. Place in middle of preheated oven for 15 minutes. Turn oven to 300 degrees. Roast 1 1/4 hours longer or until instant-read thermometer reads 150 degrees. Remove from oven and cover loosely with aluminum foil.
3. Prepare sauce. Pour off fat and add wine to the roasting pan. Bring to boil over high heat, scraping up any browned bits from the bottom. Add broth and cook until the sauce is reduced by half. If desired, strain the sauce. Taste and add salt and/or pepper as needed. Slice pork and spoon sauce over the top.
Yield: 8 servings
Nutritional information (per serving): 355 calories, 22 grams fat, 7.1 grams saturated fat, 102 milligrams cholesterol, 1,007 milligrams sodium, 58 percent calories from fat
Source: "The Complete Meat Cookbook" by Bruce Aidells and Denis Kelly (Houghton Mifflin, 1998, $35)
Served with roast potatoes, stuffing and green beans it should be nice way to cap off the mid part of the festive period.
Cool things to note:
I noticed today that the sarcacocca is starting to bloom, should smell great in a few.
Oh, and TH found the first snowdrops! whoo hooo!
Sunday, December 25, 2005
Cookbooks to die for and receive...
Nigel Slater's The kitchen diaries...
I saw this in London in November and TH snatched it up for a present. It is sumptuous and easy to read and very Nigel Slatery. I am already swooning at the Boxing day ideas and thinking that our menu is very flexible!
TH and I saw this in London as well, but bought it here. It is heavy.
The Silver Spoon Cookbook - now in English!
It is fabulous and very easy on the eyes. I'm thinking that dinner this week will be concocted out of this cookbook. It is a classic and well translated. I have a few cookbooks in Italian, but this will be used a lot. Only weakness -- very few desserts, I was lusting for a nice dolci section. It seems to be quite the popular gift this season!
Lastly and coming via mail .... if the PH Vendome mailed it quickly...
Imagine a whole Larousse filled with chocolate desserts!
I can't say enough about this cookbook it is a larousse and my guess is it will dragged out at least once in the middle of a dinner party to settle some kind of arguement. It is confounding , simple and complicated at the same time with some really easy recipes and very well designed. However, it is in french so you should have a better than average understanding of cooking terms to use it. I will probably use it in conjunction with Robert Linxe's La Maison du Chocolat cookbook. I should have carried it home, oh well. I hope it makes it home soon. It does have the Pierre Herme passionfruit macaron recipe which is great.
Good eating. I better get back to the grind and start getting the plates for dinner. ;)
Nice break in the rain this afternoon. I managed to get out there and plant some christmas bulbs and deadhead the last of the frosted plants. I notice the purple hellebores are starting to bloom and the H. foetidus are quickly following.
Happy holidays, festivus, whatever, just as long as you spend some quality time today just vegging I'll be happy for you.
Rainy here in the Emerald City - I worry about bassets under camellia bushes (cats too) and people. Looking at the forecast discussion at the National Weather Service Site, things don't look to promising for the end to the rain. You should really read the forecasts, they are more interesting than the temps.
Ran around like crazy yesterday, went to the Market for buche pickup, Madison Park for a few last minute things and cyclamens, home to bake fruitcake (looked good), run to C&B to buy two last minute presents (amazingly, found parking and saw both my mom! and my friend M. with her two adorable kidlets, so that was very fun) and everyone was in a good mood.
Came home and started to clean up. Our house looks like a disaster area with stuff not in its place quite yet. TH managed to finish cleaning upstairs, so we put back most everything. Went over to see R&A and the kids for a bit (who knew rubber pirate ducks would be a hit?) and then went to dinner at Tulios with D&M (there is another holiday tradition that is worth keeping). Dinner was great, company was great, the obnoxious football fans screaming like it was a sports bar was not fun. They probably are getting theirs now as the kids got them up at 6 am to open presents. Hah.
Anyhow, TH is still pretending to sleep, I'm going to sneak a few under the tree and maybe consider taking that salmon out of the freezer for dinner.
Oh, here is the fruitcake recipe - from one of my favourite UK chefs - at least everything I've made from his recipes has turned out really well and interesting.
Have a great day.
Saturday, December 24, 2005
Much like Z, we have traditions around here. Who doesn't really? I guess people who like to reinvent themselves over and over again. Me, I like things to be the same, even if it kills me at first.
Take our Christmas tree, I love it now, I hated it when its decor first graced my apartment many moons ago. Picture this, cranky grad student, hating her thesis, her job, her life. Her girlfriend, in hopes of cheering her up, sneakily goes and buys her a tree and ornaments, because she has never really had a tree before. She lived in a group house with someone with great decorations and loved, it, she had a family 5 miles away with a lovely tree, she fought with her previously girlfriend about the moral dilemna of cutting a tree. Frankly, she was scared of the whole tree thing and was just waiting to go home to her parent's tree. Her current girlfriend left each Xmas to spend it with her family, thus she would be spending the holiday alone.
So, imagine when she came back from going out with her grad school cronie, C, to find a tree in her studio apartment filled with ornaments and lights because her girlfriend wanted to cheer her up? Imagine how she felt when the tree was nothing like the tree she grew up with? It had colored lights and some tinsel and glass balls and silly bears on it. As much as she loved it for the love that went into it, it just wasn't her tree.
However, the amazing love and effort that went into the shopping for ornaments, hiding them and schelping of the tree was what really counted. When I went to Berkeley the following year, I saw a tree of blue and green with a few white and ornaments from TH's childhood, while it was not what I grew up with, it was still beautiful.
Today, I still love these trees, I have grown used to the green and blue lights of TH's childhood that grace the tree here. I covet the same silver, green and red glass balls that we have managed to keep whole for the last 15 years and the bears and elephants and various glass balls that festoon it. We add ornaments every year and sometimes we do a small tree with white lights to sooth my need for white, but now I feel this tree shimmering with blue, green and turquoise (don't ask) lights is just right.
So, I think I better get to my baking, eh? I am not sure how I feel about grating butternut squash and g-d help me if I forget to pick up the centerpiece for the table today.
Friday, December 23, 2005
I just sampled my mom's orange/cherry scones, M's speculaas (yum and thanks) and Ms. M's mince pies. Gosh, all I have had today is sugar, no wonder I am tired.
Finally had an epiphany for the last presents for the hard to shop for, TH is going to have to wait on her present though.
Oh, the tree is now partially decorated. Imagine that!
I uploaded pics of Paris -- you can see them here.
Rome next and London and then maybe I'll fill you in. It is all very interesting.
Thursday, December 22, 2005
We got the all clear to move back into today, so we are moving forward with christmas festivities chez nm. Tree is now hung and settling in, main floor is getting mopped, vacuumed and everything else to get back to normal. We made a list for dinner shopping - troll caught white salmon from G's boat for Christmas and roast of meats (joints as they say in England) for Boxing day. Buche has been located and ingredients have been approved and maybe things will get back to normal soon enough.
It feels really nice to be sitting here by myself in the living room and typing away. Its been a good two weeks since I have been able to do this, alone.
I'm still sound like crap and am tired, but I think I'll slink into work and try and get something done tomorrow. We have the floor peeps coming in tomorrow afternoon to give us an estimate and my parentals expect at least one of us for lunch, so maybe making an appearance in the am is a good thing.
Oh well, at least I got a few holiday chores - presents for the kids, mom and dad and TH taken care of. I only have one person that I am having a devil of time finding something for!
Wednesday, December 21, 2005
Miss P and Mr. S are still on for Xmas eve and Xmas day, so that will be fun. My mom is jonesing for a shopping trip, I'm not sure I have it in me. We still haven't braved the camera store to get them presents. We still haven't been able to locate the presents for the more selective in our groups, some people are soooo hard to buy for. TH and I are still not sure what we're doing, either! All I want is my house back.
Oh, did I tell you my check engine light is on? Seems to be driving fine, could be anything. Good thing old blue is still with us.
For some reason, even with all this crap going on (more on this later), I seem to be cool and honestly, there may be a light at the end of the tunnel.
Tonight, TH and I are staying at in Bellevue, I've only been there once since the remodel, new rooms, plasma screen tvs (nothing on, so why bother?) and new beds. Not bad if you consider the 2K bonus, a 1K diamond amenity and a 50 buck amex gift card for 107 bucks. Too bad we both have to be at work tomorrow am.
Oh well, free breakfast on the AAA rate as well. Sweet/Suite.
We're not big celebrators of the Shab-e Yalda, a tradition Iranian holiday marking the longest night, I think because its too close to Christmas. My parents went to a party a few days ago and if I was, you bet your sweet bippy I would be making a hearty stew and sit around with the family eating ajiil (Persian Trail mix), pomegranates and reciting Hafez's poetry. As it is, I had split pea soup for lunch and will probably sample some kind of ajiil my my mom brought up from San Diego, but I'll be celebrating the solstice by decorating a christmas tree with A, R, W &W and hopefully catching a bit more spirit. Gosh, I have too as time is running out!
Tuesday, December 20, 2005
I guess not.
Our tree is outside waiting for the all clear.
It will come on Friday. I hope.
Other than that, marshmallow making and the last of the panfortes are the gift of twelfth night.
Man, I hope my mood improves for everyone's sake.
Monday, December 19, 2005
Not that I slept in my own bed, but at least we had a place to sleep.
The Bellevue Hyatt may be my home for the forseeable future.
Off to Top Pot for a business meeting.
Sunday, December 18, 2005
Glaced fruit at Hediard, Paris December 2005.
Boring but true. Unpacked, deefloofed, mail sorted, recycling out, pictures downloaded and soon to be flickered, restaurant for tonight picked, garden surveyed.
Still no tree.
Oh well, there is always tomorrow night.
This could shape up to the most organized before christmas rush followed by a lack of enthusiasm for the whole holiday based on a number of pixy sticks that are all starting to fall into place or not.
So, stay tuned.
Off to airport again.
the still sick nm
Saturday, December 17, 2005
I give up.
Somewhere on the way to ORD I crossed 100,000 BIS (butt in seat) miles on American Airlines only to be greeted with a gate far from immigration, no customer services agents to help rebook (lucky me, I called from the plane when we landed in ORD), a non-working escalator at DFW immigration and a two hour wait for the next flight.
Oh well, at least I still have a first class seat on the next leg.
I'll post about the actual trip, right now I'm just cranky.
Wednesday, December 14, 2005
Today I had a lovely lunch of carciofi alla giudia (deep fried whole artichokes), cacio e pepe and an insalata mista, TH had carpaccio con rughetta, a dish of guiancale e porcini pasta and we shared an tarte di ricotta e ciccolata. It was all delicious, it was at a restaurant suggested to me by our friend D, I can't remember the second recommendation, but this one was pretty darn fine. The weather was amazing, but alas, it was a scootch bit too cold for Romans to sit out and dine. The room was decorated most sweetly, without the typical over blown checked cloths of some trattorie/osterie or the smoker's pink that is found in some of the more bespoke restaurants in Rome.
I'm still not feeling at my tip topness even after all that Airborne, so we're laying low and just schelpping across the Campo for dinner at La Carbonara. Some think this place is overrated, me I am salivating over their antipasti and my saltimbocca alla romano. TH and I are becoming big fans of puntarelle, so we may have to get one to share.
Tomorrow afternoon, we schelp off to London to see Miss J. and then N &R. I will be sorry to leave here, but I know I'll be back sooner than later and that it will be as lovely as ever.