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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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!

The acorn doesn’t fall far from the tree…Donna’s baby girl blogs too…
January 7, 2011

A girly blog look...for a girly girl...

I’ve told you quite a bit about my daughter(tmi?)…about difficulties she had in school-post here from May 2009-about her moving into her first apartment-post here from Jan. of 2010-(and we’ve made some changes in the apartment since then…I am her official decorator, and I’m cheap). But I’ve always told her, in high school and in college, that she should go to the school paper and offer to write a column about hair and skin care products….because that’s what she loves. She has always been fascinated with hair products and skin care and makeup…she just loves it. And while she never took my advice back then(more’s the pity), she is doing it today in the blogging world.

Her blog is called Recession is the New Blonde-here….and while she may need to change the name when the recession is over(oh, that’s right, everyone keeps telling us it IS over…but),  her focus is on reviewing beauty products that work for her. Hey, I didn’t even know you could get pure hylauronic acid for a moisturizer…and I should know about all that stuff. I love the look of the blog…it is so her…and she is doing something I’ve thought about trying for a while…video blogs.

Doing a blog just out of the shower? That's brave....

And her posts have gotten her some attention…she has been added to the blogging team of Lock and Mane-here, an upscale hair product and hair accessories website. I’ve ordered from them before..they have an extensive collection, and I love the fact that anything over $25 gets free shipping(you know I love that). Here is my girl’s first video blog for them-here reviewing a conditioner called Alterna. Pricey, but she says you only need a little.

If you think I am proud of her…you would be correct. When kids are little, you always wonder what they will be like when they are adults, you know? Will they be funny? Kind? Smart? What? And then when you really start to see the final product, it’s so lovely to be able to breathe a sigh of relief…yeah, she’s wonderful, she never needed braces, and she’s gonna make it on her own(hey MTM). Just wanted to share a little slice of happiness with you on this Friday. Have a great weekend…stay warm, cook something luscious(and eat it), play nice and come home safe…’cause we miss you!

Kitchen Update….blog post from the dustbowl.
December 7, 2010

I was out of town this weekend for a family holiday party in Birmingham…saw all the cousins and my lone remaining uncle and two aunts…my sisters of course and their kids. It was such a great time…and I really enjoyed being somewhere with no dust, where the furniture is in place, there is running water and a stove in the kitchen! You know…the little luxuries we all take so for granted until we don’t have them anymore. 😦

The kitchen cabinets arrive...wheeeeeeee!!!

The cabinets have arrived….they came last week and have been sitting in the dining room waiting for their time…and I’ve been in the process of picking out a paint color(so many to choose from-yikes) and pendant lighting fixtures(ditto!).

Yellow...green...blue? Can you guess what color I chose?

 I went to the paint store(Benjamin Moore) to look at paint…wow, there are so many finishes, colors, low VOCs, blah, blah blah. And while I considered a vibrant green…in the end I decided on a more neutral look for the room…and picked out Ben M’s Stonington Gray low voc paint in an eggshell finish, which is the wall color on the picture below.

Like it? The wall color not the room, which is gorgeous...

 One person on Apartment Therapy said, and I agree, “ the BEST grey ever is Benjamin Moore’s Stonington Gray. It’s a light and neutral grey — not blueish, not greenish, not purplish — very clean, a perfect contrast to bright white. A really great color.” And I’m using high gloss enamel Shell White trim…I do all the house woodwork in it, so there’s no confusion when it’s time to paint. It’s shell white…all of it. One and done.

Granite countertops...finally...

 The granite we picked(after briefly considering concrete countertops-decided they were too much upkeep) is called Silver Supreme…grey with white and black in it…and an interesting pattern in it. And I love  the contrast with the espresso brown cabinets….and the backsplash will be white subway tile.

Wine corks in a frame....

A reader asked what happened to my wine cork wall I had so painstakingly created….that’s long gone,  sadly, lost in the destruction. All that work, down the drain(and all those corks too).  Maybe I will recreate it in a frame fashion, like I saw at a little shop in Alabama last summer. It was kind of like the one above, only a bit smaller….when I get the time anyway.  More tomorrow….and more pictures( I love the pendant lights!)…

More Apartment Therapy…..The Grand Tour
February 2, 2010

Ok, it’s just about finished. While there are still more clothes to move, the daughter is in….ensconced in her first pad, complete with a new cat, named Spencer. More in Spence in a minute. First, some apartment pics and where things came from….I always enjoy looking at pics of other people’s pads(ala the website Apartment Therapy)….so if you do too….here we go. The grand tour.

Entryway...love the boots and lampshade!

First her tiny entry area…hey, at least she has one, though it’s definitely  too small to call it a foyer. The lamp is one of the first things we purchased….from Paradiso on 36th Street in  Hampden. They have the coolest lamps, and the prices won’t scare you to death. Just love that shop. The narrow table(it had to be narrow) came from ETSY, a website Deborah  Weiner turned me onto…the things on it are made by an individual person.  It’s a great resource. The table  was supposed to be black, and we may yet paint it. Doesn’t offend me cream….just kinda blah. The mirror came from Ballard Design on sale…and the thing holding her mail is one of a couple of things we got at Great Stuff by Paul, in Frederick. It’s an old wooden Chinese rice scoop(($29)…and is perfect for mail. (I can’t go to Frederick without stopping in.

Cozy little sitting area in one corner of main room....

And speaking of Great Stuff by Paul….that is also where the antique Chinese window screen you see above came from($89)…they had at least a couple hundred of them. It’s such a great architectural feature, and covers a lot of space. We mounted it with velcro. Sofa from and lamp from Ikea(of course…the new apartment furnisher’s best friend), the white branch table on sale from West Elm, Thomas Paul “Nest” pillow from Gilt, the yellow flower applique pillow also from Etsy.

I've always loved this dresser..now it has a home...

This old dresser I inherited it from my Grandmother when I was a teenager…and I was the one who painted it red(yeah, that was a long time ago). My Mother said, “Are you sure you want it red?” It has become quite “distressed” over the years, but I hung onto it, knowing that someone would love it and have just the place for it one day. And this alcove in the apt, was the place(no doubt it used to house a Murphy bed). In fact, this red dresser was the basis for the entire color scheme for the room. It’s a great little dressing table with some pretty good storage, and my Mom would be so pleased it’s in her granddaughter’s apartment. The Thomas Adler wannabe lamp…is from Lamps Plus.

Definitely a statement piece....maybe our favorite find.

 The chair in front is something I consider one of our great finds, from Overstock. A superbright, mod print…and with lucite legs!! I love it! And here’s what I think…no matter what you’re looking for, if you don’t check on Overstock to see what’s there(and read the buyer reviews if there are any), you’re crazy, or have more money than sense…as Mom would say. You just never know what you’ll find there.  Like this crazy chair that wasn’t expensive.

My daughter loved this yellow toile duvet cover on Pottery Barn….it was backordered on their website, and kinda pricey. We found it for less on Ebay.

Love the chandelier...though it wasn't the easiest thing to mount.

Again, you never know what you’ll find there. Always worth a check. Bed  from Ikea. Side table a long ago buy from C-Mart(you C-Mart). And another great buy from ETSY….the wall decal that looks like a chandelier. While it was ummmm…a challange to put up, it was worth the effort….just love the look. And if  you go to the link above, you’ll see the incredible variety of vinyl decals available, everything from big giraffes, to birds on a branch, to chandeliers, to trees growing from the floor. Very modern, very chic, and an inexpensive way to cover a wall. Check it out.

More vertical storage....what every tiny apartment needs....

And another space and storage solution…this wall entryway unit we found on sale at Ballard Design….it’s in a small dressing area just outside the bathroom. Great for hanging coats and stuff, and extra storage. It’s one thing we learned from my son and the lovely Jennifer in a NYC studio…try to keep things vertical and on the walls, rather than sitting on the floor. Point well taken.

Meet Spencer!

And last but certainly not least….my daughter was dying for a cat….she loves herself some  kitties. So Sunday afternoon we went to the Falls Road SPCA (where there was a bumper crop of  people looking for pets) and found what may be the perfect cat for her. Spencer is 5 years old, and had been abandoned by owners who moved away and left him, if you can imagine such a thing. The neighbors fed him for a few months, and then finally brought him in. Spencer is without a doubt, a cat from whom other felines could learn a thing or two.  Totally relaxed and easy going, he loves to nap on the sofa, and has already made himself right at home. He jumped out of the cat carrier and stretched as if to say, “Yeah, I think I can hang out with you guys for a while.” Such a sweetie has a new home. Two sweeties actually. My girl is starting to feel at home in her new space…and while I really miss her(and I think she misses me too), she’s moving into a new phase of life…a whole new adventure…for her and Spencer.

It’s Almost Moving Day…..
January 14, 2010

It's almost moving day!!

You may remember my daughter graduated from college last May(yeah!), and has lived at home ever since. This past summer was the summer of slumber….looking for jobs yes, but also deep, languorous, coma-like morning sleep, which is something at which all 20-somethings just out of college seem to excel. That girl is a champion sleeper.

Then, she found a full time job…one that required her to be in downtown Baltimore by 8:30 AM. Hmmmmm…a serious attitudinal adjustment about bedtime was in order…and a really rude awakening time of 6:45 am. It was a shock to her delicate system. But she has adjusted, to her credit….though on the weekends, we never see her before at least noon. Talent will not be denied.

But later this month, she moves on to her first independent apartment. Oh, she’s  lived in dorm apartments with other girls, and houses in the summer with other girls, but it will be the first time she has ever lived on her own. Our house has become a staging area really….full of boxes with things she has ordered for her cute little studio…and boxes of things her brother brought down at Christmas….hand-me-down pots and pans, bowls, just stuff he and the lovely Jennifer didn’t need anymore(they upgraded most everything when they married…you know how it is).

More stuff to move....linens, pots and pans....

I heard her complain to her bro over Christmas…something like,”Mom is trying to take over decorating my apartment…”, to which he replied, sagely, “Let her!”. Jennifer echoed, “Yeah, let her.”  Now let me say this in my defense…I’m not trying to take over the look of the apartment, I’m just … guiding. As in…you need to pare down your colors…you can’t have yellow and red and Lily Pulitzer pink and green(I mean you can, but sheesh). Something’s got to go. Preventive apartment therapy.I want her to have a look that she’ll enjoy for a long time, and looks like an adult lives there, not a girl in college. Which she isn’t….not anymore. She was talking to a sorority sister about taking all her paraphernalia from sorority(and there’s a lot of it, believe me, much of it covered with sequins). Here sister offered this advice..”Leave it at home in a drawer.” Thank you Heidi.

My Mother and I had talked about this upcoming move…she knew Cada had a job and was planning to move….and while she was really happy for Cada, she also said, “You’re really gonna miss that girl.” Don’t I know it. I really enjoy her being home most nights….watching tv together, fixing her a cup of hot tea in the morning before she heads off to work, hanging a little on the weekend. And while I’ll still see her a lot…she won’t be far at all, it will be different. I know I’ve survived her leaving before…when she went to college, so I know I’ll survive again. And these months of living together post-college has been like a little gift, really. It’s a time we probably won’t ever have again(unless something unfortunate happens, as is sometimes the way). But the time for moving on has come….for her, and for me. Because I have to go write a story for the news, and stop blogging!! Oh, and tomorrow, I have something for those of you looking for a “calm” year….that seems to be a lot of us. See ya….

The Kitchen Cure….I’m taking it!
October 19, 2009

Refrigerator stuff: bits of butter, yes, perfume, anchovy paste, curry sauce

Refrigerator stuff: bits of butter, yes, perfume, anchovy paste, curry sauce

Ok, if you’re anything like me at all, in spite of your good intentions, your kitchen counter/shelves/refrigerator get cluttered. All the stuff that you don’t really want to throw away…hey, I might need that 3-year-old half  jar of red curry paste…but you really don’t know what to do with it either. So, it ALL…ADDS…UP.

Last week, I was sent an email from Apartment Therapy…which is a website that caters to people who live in small spaces…how to expand your storage, decorating issues, 8 top stylists tricks, etc…..and regarding the kitchen cure, which they actually did this past spring, this is the challenge: “Welcome to our second annual Kitchen Cure! This is a series of posts, reader interaction, and assignments designed to help get your kitchen in shape. The goal, in four fast weeks, is for your kitchen to be clean, healthy and organized, and your cooking more nourishing and delicious than ever.” And while I don’t live in an apartment, my kitchen is small….organization is key.

Well, at least I have 4 weeks…that’s something. So this weekend, as assigned,  I tackled the frig, and a lazy susan cabinet in the corner that tends to be the place I put the kitchen flotsam and jetsam.  And the refrigerator’s need goes without saying. Full of stuff …how old is that jar of spaghetti sauce in the back anyway? And three jars of opened picked okra? Really?  I mean, I love pickled okra, but let’s combine and recycle. And why does my daughter buy those little container so flavored yogurts and then never touch them again? Bye-Bye. And yes, I keep my cologne in the frig, especially in the summer after I read somewhere that it stays nice longer. For sure, it stays cooler.

I know...thats nasty....

I know...that's nasty....

And uh-oh. Something really sticky on the bottom of one shelf…soap and hot water required….So I invested a couple of hours to this project, reorganizing, combining, cleaning, polishing, (I think that mozzarella stick might be the oldest think in the frig….date unknown), but you put back the pared down items, into the newly cleaned spaces, and….sigh, happiness.

That same shelf, clean and freshly arranged...

That same shelf, clean and freshly arranged...

I actually opened the refrigerator a couple of times this morning, just to look at its gleaming, fresh interior. And the lazy susan( which was known to throw various plastic container tops into its dark corners just to snarl up the works-a pathetic cry for attention) now turns freely….look below, I’m really happy about it. Now if someone wants to reach for something in my cabinet or frig, I won’t have to rush over and say, “Oh, I’ll get it!”…out of cabinet shame. Next weekend , the spice cabinet. Now there’s a challenge.

Much, much better, now I know where my Furi chopper is!

Much, much better, now I know where my Furi chopper is!