Archive for July, 2011

Roads less traveled by: Maine food and a so long….
July 29, 2011

OK, is there any scene more Maine than this??

This was at a little restaurant in Naples called Merced's....

And I will admit to overdosing, if there is such a thing…and I don’t think there is…on LOBSTER. Seriously, we ate it at every dinner(even made lobster tacos one night), and more than a few lunches.

One of my fave meals: lobstah, corn, slaw, and Callie's Biscuits....

We were very good customers of the Lobster Pound Restaurant, where they boil up lobsters in big tanks out back, and you haul them away in a sack.

Another way to eat lobstah....the classic lobster roll...tho the bread should be toasted...

And I told you we did heavy duty cooking….it’s our favorite way to eat…at home.

My son and the lovely Jennifer...sous chefs extraordinaire!

Grab the lobsters, whip up some side dishes…have a cool drink(glug, glug, glug) on the dock at sunset…..and then dive in(to the food or the water, take your pick). Heaven.

Where's my glass of wine???

And I mentioned that I had a great recipe for you to try….and I wasn’t foolin’….

Crunchy peanut slaw.....so great for summer....

Here’s the recipe from Apartment Therapy…..and it was perfect with lobster(or fish or steak or whatever)….the only variations we made….we couldn’t find cilantro, so we did without it…I added a little cider vinegar for a bit more zing, and Jennifer sliced a little avocado on top. But it was so fresh and so cool….loved the peanuts in it.

Here's your Friday moment of zen....

And I want to add how much I will miss Marianne Banister here at the station, as will many of you. She and I were buds…sisters even(we were both in the same sorority at college-what’s up Chi O?)and we have both lived the times and troubles of teenaged girls together. She is another road right now, which I hope leads her to wonderful things. Even when your life changes, and even when you don’t want that change…good things can come from it. I’ve had that happen to me, and I’m sure many of you have as well. But MB…we miss you, I miss you..lots.  And I hope all of you find a pretty winding road this weekend….and decide to travel it…and find out where it leads. And cook something cool and crunchy. And come home safe…’cause we miss you.

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Maine-line living….Donna’s back from the pine tree state…
July 27, 2011

Took this looking up from my Adirondack chair......

Not for nothing do they call Maine the pine tree state….it’s green, blue skis, cool breezes(for the most part)….and if you’re on a mini-vaca….totally relaxing.

Valley of ferns....took this pic on a walk one day...

And right down the road from where we were, a guy had some truly free range chickens(video here)….proving there can be a thing as too much freedom…a fox had three of them a couple of nights before. Ouch.

The view from shore...the house is just steps away from the water....

$5 farmer's market bouquet...I added the ribbon...

Yep, we were pretty rural....also seen on a walk...

 

And these(also just down the road a ways)...became the picture below....

Who doesn't love deviled eggs with a little sea salt...Maldon of course.

We did some serious lobster eating…and some serious cooking…with a couple of recipes you must try…more on that Friday!!!! (By the way, I just discovered this is my 775th post!! Who knew I’d keep blogging for that long?)

Ten Travel must-haves…..what I always take with me….
July 21, 2011

Rosebud...old school but the best...

Love my Ray-Bans....

My "stuff"....

To me successfull travel is all about organization. Nothing is more irritatating than to realize(after you’ve left home) that you don’t have your book, or your glasses, or your whatchamacallit or whatever it is that you need as a pacy on your trip. Here’s what I take. Always.

1. My Nook. Before my Nook I would have said a book, but now I can take a big library with me. Love the Nook, and for me, the iPad has not replaced it for reading. Currently reading: Lotus Eaters( excellent suggestion Gerry Sandusky).

2. Ipad. It can serve as an ereader if the light is dim or nonexistant as it is backlit. Plus it also functions as my iPod(latest download Raphael Saadiq) as it has my tunes on it. Plus I could watch a movie if I wanted.

3. Earphones. These speak for themselves….they are the Dr. Dre heartbeats by Lady Gaga, gift from my son and the lovely Jennifer.

4. A wrap. If you’re on a plane or even in a car with a husband who is BLASTING the AC….it can get chilly(in more ways than one)…so I take a pashmina. And you never know when you might want it in a restaurant, if you are sleeveless.

5. A snack. It’s just comforting to know there’s a little sumthin-sumthin in your bag, if you should get the munchies. I try to make it lo-cal, like the Think Thin bars.

6. Water. Especially if I fly…it’s dry up there. Nothing like a Think Thin bar stuck in your throat. Arrrrgh…

7. Lotion.  I. Can’t. Stand. Dry. Hands. And if I have some eye cream, all the better(should go put some in my bag right now)….

8. Glasses. Without these babies, I can’t read the Nook or the Ipad or anything, or find the lotion. Or open the THink THin bar.

9. Sunglasses. I’m addicted to wearing my Ray-Bans when the light is bright, and they give me an air of mystery( or that’s the way it is in my mind)….

10. Lip Balm. Refer to No.7, though for lips the need for moisture is even more intense. My fave….Rosebud Salve….a classic made in Woodsboro Maryland. I prefer the original formula in the tin….and it’s only $6. (and you can use it on hands and elbows too!)

Have a great trip!

Cheese, creamed, salmoned, and pimentoed(is that a word?)
July 20, 2011

Start with cream cheese, smoked salmon trimmings, and some chives...

You may have seen(and bought) the cute little expensive balls of salmon cream cheese…so pretty, and quite delicious, but around $10 for small ball…yikes. So I’ve learned to make my own…you can too.

Put the trimmings into a food processor, or chop them very fine by hand....

I use the smoke salmon trimmings you can find at Whole Foods….it’s the leftover bits but since you’re gonna grind it up anywhere, who cares? Process until it is in small bits….no one likes a huge stringy chunk of smoked salmon hanging from their teeth, unless you’re Sean Connery. (Seriously, on a film junket one time, I was standing by him at the snack table, and it happened, but he didn’t give a rip. And why should he? He’s Sean freakin’ Connery.)

Keep mixing, it's not there yet....

Mix it all up by hand with some Tabasco to get it a little kick, and you’re all set. Everyone will think you’re a genius.

And I made super eggplant dip, inspired by one I had over fourth of July….mine was a little different, but still really good….take a look at the video. I love it.

Pimento cheese...so easy a monkey can do it!

And I also made  huge batch of pimento cheese….I’ve always loved it as you know, but it has become quite trendy…as you can see from articles like this one in the Wall Street Journal…although the writer says  Moms of yesteryear made pimento cheese from processed cheese….excuse me, my Mom never did that…it was always real cheddar. And they talk about chefs roasting their own red peppers…and I’ve tried that, but honestly, I missed the taste of the pimentos…which is different. Whatever. This recipe also adds sugar, which I don’t care for…and cream cheese…a little unnecessary, but not too terrible. Other than that, go for it…it’s great on crackers, sandwiches, burgers, in pasta…and just a spoonful out of the frig.

Isabella hits a home run….Chowing down with Top Chef …
July 18, 2011

me and Mike...just hangin'....you know....

I told you last week about heading to Graffiato this weekend…Top Chef’s Mike Isabella’s new place in Chinatown in D.C…..and  It. Was. Awesome. Loved it…The menu was chockablock(is that a word?) with delicious small plates…the hardest part was making decisions about stuff….we started off with some breads and the blistered peppers…yummy together…

So pretty, and soooo good....

And this fresh mozzarella, I watched a line chef stretch and make into a ball, right in front of us…it is topped with an herby/olive oil concoction…instant bliss.

Best seat in the house.....we thought...

We were seated at a bar that seats 6, that overlooks the kitchen in action…and Isabella was right there….tasting, wiping down the plates, looking like he was having a blast..

Love this touch...so homey, and just right...

And I should add, we could not get reservations, but they set aside a certain number of tables for walk-ins like us…and while we got there at 5:30 pm(hello early bird special)…we still couldn’t get a table…but in the end we adored sitting at this observation bar/chef’s table. Not as good for conversation, but lots of Isabella and food watching fun. And I adore the herbs planted in tin cars…nice touch. Service….attentive and knowledgable, and here’s something …we got out for $90 a couple. Not that that is cheap, but we did a lot of food sampling, and two bottles of wine(shared for 4 people, ok not just us). My fave dish…the Vermont pizza, with melted leeks, cheddar, and smoked bacon. Un-bee-leeev-able.  And Mike Isabella wasn’t the only one doing some pretty serious cooking this weekend…more on that, on Wednesday!

Potter, Romesco, and Graffiato….making plans for the weekend….
July 15, 2011

OK, there are several things I want to accomplish this weekend….first:

Harry, Hermione, and Ron....it looks serious this time....

That’s right…see the latest…and the last..installment in the Harry Potter series. My daughter heaved a huge, aggrieved sigh when she heard this, saying, “that’s not gonna happen“. No support at all…and I know the hubby is a lost cause on this one. Still, it could happen(ever heard of passive-aggressive?).

Two…. cook something killer this weekend. The Contenders:

How could these ingredients combined NOT be delicious??

Creamy Grits with corn, goat cheese and roasted tomatoes….this recipe came in my inbox this morning from The Kitchen…here it is. While I did resent the line within the article saying, “Gone are the trashy Southern stereotypes of yesteryear“. Excuse me?  I have made allowances for the writer, and intend to put this on the table, maybe Sunday. Oh, and while the recipe calls for milk and water, I’d finish it off with some cream or half and half, if you really want creamy grits. And the idea of roasting halved cherry tomatoes for an hour at 400 degrees, seems like asking for cinders…I would at least check them at 30 minutes. OK?

The other contender:

Ever had Romesco Sauce? Me either....

Grilled Skirt steak with Romesco Sauce-here’s a recipe from Simply Recipes…. the marinated steak would be pretty darn fine by itself but the sauce which comes from the Catalan region of Spain,  sounds really intriguing…

Love the color of the sauce....

It’s made with grilled red peppers or pimentos(some recipes add a tomato), toasted bread, almonds,  garlic and other stuff(liked smoked Spanish paprika, one of my fave new spices), sautéed and all thrown in to the food processor. Interesting. Have any of you ever made it?

I'm going this weekend!!

Going to try Graffiato this weekend with friends in D.C….remember Mike Isabella from Top Chef last season? He was the runner-up(should have won in my opinion, but whatever)…

An Italian, tatooed cutie.....Mike Isabella

Looks like a cool place..casual… Italian of course, lots of small plates, five kinds of cured hams, some amazing looking pastas and pizza(roasted potato gnocchi with braised pork shank anyone?)….and a wine list that doesn’t feel like you have a gun stuck in your ribs…if you know what I mean. I’ll report back Monday.

And I hope all of you do something fun, cook something delicious, don’t throw rocks, and come home safe….’cause we miss you!

Crap-tacular….and how’s your day going?
July 13, 2011

See the jagged edge? more on that later....

It was one of those mornings, you know? Where for a little while, you feel like you’re on top of everything, and then…bam. In the morning I like to do some yoga, water the garden if it needs it(and right now, wow does it need it)…have some breakfast….the usual. But today is recycling day, and we had a BUNCH of boxes that needed to go out. And while the hubby had taken out the vast majority of it, I remembered that there were two boxes still in the basement that were still there. So I rush downstairs, and spy the boxes, perched on top of another box of something(who knows what’s inside)….I get one firmly in hand, and stretch up, up, for the other…get it, and then….lose my balance. I step back trying to right my self, right into one of the litter boxes, almost overturning the thing, and all the boxes come crashing down. Even had your foot covered with cat litter? Not. Pretty.  Crap-tacular.

Were the two boxes worth it? NO....

Run the two boxes out to the curb(might as make the mess worth it)…and of course, recycling has come and gone. Damn.

Help me gps!!

So I head off for work(after showering and getting ready-not right after the litter box)…now running a few minutes late…after cleaning up said litter. My usual route downtown is blocked…arghh…I’ve been Artscaped(it’s this coming weekend)! Now I’m kinda wandering through the side streets of Bolton Hill(wow,they have a lot of one way and blocked off streets), trying to find my way to Mercy Medical Center for a shoot.

Nothing here....keep looking...slowly...

Pull into the parking garage…where a woman, a very nice lady I’m sure…has pulled up in front of the ticket dispenser at the parking garage, and seems to have never seen one  before. Because we…just…sit…there…..finally she gets the idea, and we’re off! Kind of. We sloooooowly work our way up until we fiiiiiiiinnnaaalllllly find parking places. Getting out of the car, I discover this cut oooooozing blood on the back of my leg…so pretty. I realize this is from the cat litter incident earlier in the day. Like I said, craptacular. And how’s you day going?

Pomme frites, clafoutis and tournesols….Say What??
July 11, 2011

Roast poulet and French Fri....I mean..pomme frites

This weekend was my favorite type of weekend…where I have NOTHING planned, nothing I HAVE to do….no committments, no obligations….so anything goes. Most Friday nights we meet our daughter for dinner somewhere close to all of us, which usually means Hampden, but this Friday we went to Petite Louis in Roland Park…we shared a chicken and french fries for two(Frenchified it’s poulet with pomme frites). Whatever, it was delish….and we even brought some home!

Best buy in Harbor East?? Great vegetarian dinner....

Saturday night went down to Harbor East…had a quick dinner at Vino Rosina, which is a terrific wine bar right around the corner from Bagby’s Pizza….they have some lovely small plates…like the grilled polenta with squash, topped with a soft poached egg. Some people on FB seemed to think that was a little weird, but poached eggs on top of a savory dish….is yummy. And this was only $8….and really would have made a lovely dinner all in itself.

Cupcakes with a smile...

The intention after dinner was to see Horrible Bosses, but the 7:30 show was sold out….:(     My spirits lifted considerably though, when I spiedCaroline’s Cupcakes, which has opened a little stand inside the Hagen Daz store. Black bottom with cream cheese icing, cures all ills…seriously, it does.

Market tournesols(sunflowers)!

Made it to the downtown farmers’ market under the JFX Sunday morning…made it in time for tomato seconds(if you have never availed yourself of the bargain that is tomato seconds…well, more for me). These are ‘maters that may have split a tiny split or have a spot or bruise. They’re still fabulous…and a great buy. Picked up some sunflowers, bread, and eggs too….and you see some of the cutest kids there. And they are decked out…I wished I dressed as well for the market(I don’t.)…check out this little girl

Clafoutis, ready to go into the oven....

That night we grilled some lamb, sliced some of those tomatoes and drizzled with olive oil, sautéed yellow squash, and I made a cherry clafoutis, from a recipe in one of my oldest and most beloved French cookbooks, French Country Cooking.

The finished clafoutis

It’s a snap to make really, the only messy part is pitting the cherries. Then it’s just eggs, flour, sugar and milk. And one of my favorites. Here’s an Emeril Lagasse recipe that is close to mine….but I would ditch the brandy and vanilla bean(just use extract)…and my recipe calls for 1/2 cup each of sugar and flour..not one cup, and only one cup of flour…..but, whatever. Let me know how yours turns out! And send pictures! You won’t be sorry you tried it…claloutis is a classic….for a reason.

Brunch it up for a crowd….and other crazy things to do on your weekend
July 8, 2011

July...almost half over????

Seriously, I can’t believe that July fourth is in the rear view mirror..this summer is moving waaaaaay too fast…… I told you I had a brunch to which the whole neighborhood was invited, part of our Fourth of July celebration….and even though I worried about it a bit(ok, maybe more than that), it turned out fine…just fine. Made me think that I could do something like that again. Maybe.

Creamy, cheesey, sausage, eggs, bread...what's not to like?

I made three, double recipes(remember I had a crowd) of Chorizo and Egg Strata, that got lots of recipe requests, so here it is!  And the best part, is that like any strata, you put it together the night before, and pop them in the oven the next morning. Super easy…(f you have pounds of cheese and six dozen eggs)….but you won’t need that many.

Almond milk, ready for the granola parfait bar....

And we also had a yogurt/granola bar…where you could concoct your own parfait…with different kinds of toppings…berries, flaxseed, brown sugar, almond or regular milk….but they needed to be labeled. Enter my creative daughter.

Walnuts in a darling silver dish...

I bought green card stock at Staples(on her advice) and she hand wrote all the labels for me…and we used simple brown twine to tie them on….or propped them up in front. Loved the look, and it didn’t cost but a few bucks. And finding a use for the little silver dishes that my later Mom-in-law Shirley collected I loved…she would adore the simple fact that I used them(and kept them), and they aren’t just sitting in the cupboard(tho they do that a lot, let’s be honest)….

Shady makes his debut...thanks Lizzie and Humane Society...

And some of you have been following the exploits of Shady the cat…the stray that turned up on the doorstep of WBAL-TV. We fed it, but it was clear that he needed a permanent home, and he had some sort of mouth issue(turned out to be an abscess). But such a sweetie…really a love who doesn’t mind being petted or held like a baby over your shoulder(not every kitty puts up with that). The Baltimore Humane Society actually came here and picked him up….he’s been there for about a week(he was on 11 News at Noon yesterday), and while he hasn’t gone on the adoption floor yet(has to finish his antibiotics), Lizzie Silber, in the picture above, thinks someone will snap Shady up fast. He’s already a staff fav, obviously… Shady is a winner….totally calm and collected in a tv studio, and look at that sweet face !!!!

Have a great weekend all…surprise your family or your friends with a strata this weekend…think about taking in a sweet animal that needs a home…relax a little, and come home safe…’cause we miss you!

Wrap it Up…wrapping presents when you have no supplies…
July 5, 2011

The Japanese call it furoshiki....

You know, I haven’t posted these pictures from my daughters’s birthday last month…but I wanted to share them, because I really hate spending a lot of money on wrapping paper..that is torn off and then, in the worst of circumstances…thrown away…not even recycled(tons of it each year in this country). So I have more and more tried to move toward reusable wrappings.

Big burlap bag and ribbon=gift!

But this birthday, I was simply caught short…the day arrived, and while I had the gifts, I didn’t have any wrappings for two BIG boxes that need to be wrapped(a John Robshaw quilt she wanted for her bed that I found on Ebay)…and something called the Glo-bag…”the ultimate gym locker organizer“.

Italian linen sample....

So I started rooting through my linen closets….the first thing I stumbled on …(light blub going off)…was a big burlap bag I had bought last year, as a cover for the Christmas tree stand. Never used it for that but hey….I dig burlap…and it’s big…so I slipped the box inside and tied it with orange grosgrain ribbon. ( My kids know that after they open a present from me, they have to give the ribbon back for reuse-I have a big box of little rolls of ribbon that have graced many gifts)…and real fabric ribbon lasts a long time.

See? The tape actually sticks!

One box  wrapped, but what about the other? A camel colored linen sample from my brother-in-law had been sitting in the closet….hmmmm…would it be possible to use that like a paper? The tape stuck, believe it or not, and after putting on a white satin ribon….I thought it turned out pretty nicely.

Finished result....I love it!

Gifts wrapped, no paper or ribbon bought, and I get to reuse all of it again! If you’d like a little more information on wrapping with fabric, but without tape…check out the Japanese art of furoshiki-here.  My girl loved her gifts….and she knows the score at the end of the evening…hand those ribbons over, sister.

Sad sight....

And on a side note….yes, I did get my iPhone replaced…took it to the Apple store in Columbia, they gave me a new one(may be a reconditioned one), and said no charge….this time.