Friday, November 27, 2009

Dillard57 Relocated!

We have settled into our new home in Melrose, MA. The last few months were a blur of packing and planning and occasional panic as we navigated the white waters of real estate negotation. We have come out the other end unscathed, although I have learned a lot. NEXT time, when I do the walk-through, I'm going to notice if they've taken all of the blinds off the bedroom windows. Sigh.

I don't have a whole lot of fascinating stories about this process unless you like to hear long deliberations about couch colors (who knew that there were color trends in couches?), and how do you find the best place to put the pots and pans? Now I struggle to find curtains and curtain rods and the drill and drill bits buried in a box somewhere that would allow me to put them up. Mr. Right has been a non-stop whirl of box emptying and shlepping, upstairs, downstairs, in between. We have squeezed in a few interesting adventures -- mostly notably, in October we biked the Cape Cod Canal, which I had on my list of new year's resolutions for 2009. The photo above is from that visit while Mr. Right and I were taking silly photos.

We like Melrose. Our neighbors have been very friendly, and we love walking into town to run errands. Need eggs? The grocery store is just a block away! Need books, duct tape, the YMCA, a church service? All within an easy walk. This is what I have always loved about living close to town. Mr. Right loves his new commute.

Yesterday was Thanksgiving. I am appreciative to the point of amazement at the way our life has changed in the past few months and the wonderful family and friends who helped us through the transition. If you had told me five years ago that this is what my life would look like now, I'm not sure I would believe you.

Tonight I watch a documentary about Frida Kahlo and rest and have a moment to catch my breath before we return to the work of setting up a new household. Oh and get ready for the holidays!

Friday, September 18, 2009

And More Transitions...

Since I last posted I'm a little shocked to say we have managed to move out of our house. We are now into our temporary digs at my very very very generous in-laws.

Our house finally sold, hooray, yay, celebrate!!! Aaaaand, we had all of 3 weekends to pack up 4 people's things and get out of there. Ack! Panic! Scramble! Whew.

All our worldly possessions are pretty much stuffed into the garage area, and I'm really not sure where my car keys are. We have taken over Mom and Dad's place, and just incredibly grateful at their kindness.

Oh and the Friday before we fully moved out, we went house hunting, not expecting much but feeling like we needed to see the options. And one of the houses actually seemed like it could work for us. Walkable to Melrose center, lots of space, all updated ... we couldn't figure out why NOT to put a bid on it. So we offered, and, dear reader, they accepted. Um. This is my first time experiencing this process of buying a house. The mixed feeling of joy and terror was one I will not forget anytime soon, probably because I am still feeling it. However, don't get too attached to our place yet as we haven't done the home inspection. But so far so good.

So! Pardon us during this transition time as we figure out which way is up and where exactly the toothbrushes are located. And while we dream little daydreams about where we will set up the eat in kitchen and what to do exactly with that extra room on the 4th floor ... Mr. Right is suggesting we put in a disco with shark acquarium. I am voting for chicken coop and/or pottery studio with full kiln. We are having fun coming up with silly ideas. Most likely it will be a rec room and, dare I say it, an art studio for me. Oh, quickly, knock on wood, and don't get ahead of myself, but wouldn't that be lovely?

Friday, August 21, 2009


I spent many Christmas holidays as a kid wandering the halls of the Museum of Science and Industry in Chicago, which seemed (and still seems) like such a magical place. But our visits there were generally an in and out trip as we were there with about 15 family members of various levels of age and mobility and patience. After our visit and a trip to Ed Debevic's, it was back to Grandma's in Indiana. So I grew up feeling like I'd been to Chicago many times, but this last trip (for a work conference) proved that I really had never seen Chicago at all.

However, having been a fan of the show ER during its early years, you get this eerie false familiarity as you wait for the "El" train, knowing you've never done this before but you've heard and seen it so many times on TV.

I had a great time with many adventures, some of my favorite being a long train ride pilgramage to Oak Park, the home of one of my childhood heroes (once you've been to Fallingwater, Frank Lloyd Wright becomes very heroic no matter how old you are). It was such an amazing sight to see an entire town transformed by the architectural visions of this one artist. Beautiful. I'll try and post some photos of the town later.

I decided one evening to head over to the Art Institute by foot and accidentally discovered something beautiful I'd never heard about: Millennium Park. When you read about it, you think, ho hum, city park. When you go there, you say, Frank Ghery outside auditorium with a free world music concert blasting with people dancing and picnicking in the grass out front? Huge public art everywhere? A huge garden composed of wild plants and wildflowers of the region? Right next to the Art Institute? Wha?? It was gorgeous. (skyline photo above taken from the garden). And the new wing of the AI was incredible. I went on the free Thursday night and it was intoxicating to be surrounded by a museum full of happy summertime art fans wandering through its halls.

I also did Chicago's food traditions justice. I had a steak sandwich submerged in juice (disgusting but so good), a visit to Frontera and their new fast food joint, Frontera Fresco, and had to make sure I got some chicago style pizza from Ginos East, for which I've been craving now for about, oh, 15 years. I even stumbled across a city farmer's market, so I was in farmer's market bliss seeing what it is they have out here on the farm in the midwest (in July: lots of Michigan cherries and peaches).

I was really, really impressed with Chicago. I just had no idea it had so much to offer.

Monday, August 10, 2009

4 trips, 1.5 months; I am tired

I am slowly approaching recovery from travel burnout. But the blog must go on! I've got photos to post! It's now early August, the cicadas are whirring along with the air conditioners. After dinner tonight, I sat on the side porch and enjoyed a bowl of melty raspberry sherbet while listening to the summer noises of basketballs and crickets and sprinklers and dogs. I leafed through a Gourmet magazine and thought, ahhh, I don't have to pack anything for this weekend!

I do have some lovely memories to share, however. So let's begin.
After the wonderful trip to Nantucket back in June, we had a quick weekend up in New Hampshire. This doesn't count as a trip because it is where we visit Mr. Right's family pretty regularly. We did, however, enjoy the sandcastle competition at Hampton Beach, which made the visit more vacationlike.

Then we were off to Virginia and Washington DC where Mr. Right's brother lives. I lived in DC for a year so I'm always happy to return to the area, as well as being that much closer to my homestate of PA. We drove the scenic route through the Cheasapeake bay peninsula, stopping in New Castle, DE for a rest break and learning about motor oil ice cream, and reading sign after sign promising us fireworks, peanuts and Virginia ham. We finally gave in to the hype and stopped for crabcakes here, at The Great Machipongo Clam Shack, where the crabcakes were every bit worth the small delay on arriving to see the much beloved cousins.

We pressed on for the remainder of the 11 hour drive, and arrived in beautiful Chesapeake just in time for Independence Day and much joyful reunion. The morning of the holiday, we got up early to wish bon voyage to a friend of the family who was headed off to the Middle East for military duty. Mr. Right's sister in law made a sign with her grade schoolers for us to hold which was a big hit while the bus drove away.

We toured an outdoor airplane museum afterward and the kids enjoyed having their photos taken next to all of these crazy planes.

Virginia Beach was a first for all of us. It was really pretty and hey, who knew the ocean could be warm after years of New England ice water? We briefly visited The Dismal Swamp but were chased away by the dismal mosquitoes; we stopped by the Norfolk Harbor Festival where we hung out with shanty singing pirates and human grapevines (see photo).
We visited Colonial Williamsburg (where we had a group photo in front of the governor's mansion and then tried on silly hats) and in the same day went to Busch Gardens, where Mr. Right and I, both hardened roller coaster veterans, were humbled by Apollo's Chariot, a ride that left us quaking in our boots and bewilderedly wondering if we were just getting too old for such things.

Then we were off to DC where, frankly, it was too hot to take many pictures. But we introduced the kids to the standards (in order: Air & Space, National Museum of the American Indian (where, strange as it sounds, the food court is amazing. Next time we're getting the turtle soup!), the Washington Monument, the Vietnam Memorial, the Lincoln Memorial, National Archives (ugh, longest wait ever), and finally, Arlington National Cemetary. All in 95 degree heat that was NOT a dry heat, and mostly on foot except when we just couldn't manage another step and flagged down a bike carriage and let him do the sweating for us. Fortunately, somebody was wise enough to book a hotel with a pool right in the middle of the city, so we made good use of it.
And so, we completed the return leg of the Great American Road Trip in our little red wagon, accompanied by a great book on tape, The Last Dragon, which was a big hit and may have saved our sanity as we crawled through NYC traffic.
Next stop on our frantic US tour: Chicago!

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Nantucket: Same State, Different Country

We got back yesterday from our first anniversary celebration trip to Nantucket, a tiny island right off the shore of good ol'Massachusetts. We figured it would be an easy, uncomplicated yet good place to escape our day to day routines. I expected it to be pretty in that standard Cape Coddy ain't-the-beach-great kinda place. I am surprised and happy to report it is a pretty fascinating place to visit. And now for the photos.

We took a ferry over from Hyannis, a pleasant two hour ride (more on that pleasant factor later for the return trip). Upon arrival, I snapped this shot of the harbor area. Based on the picturesque level we were already hitting, Nantucket was doing pretty good.

From there, we passed a million flower boxes. I guess this town takes them very seriously -- they were everywhere and all of them were gorgeous. We walked 4 blocks from the ferry to our Centre Street Inn, a 13 bedroom house on a quiet side street.

On Saturday, we rented bikes and took a trip over to this lighthouse, which turned out to be right around the corner from our B&B. Mr. Right always says he would love the life of the light house keeper. I'm never sure if he's serious about this or not as I would last about two days at the most.

Mr. Right and I travel well together. I'm always looking for the best farmstands and Mr. Right loves to visit breweries as he has made his own beer in the past. Happily, we found a farm and a brewery on the same street a few miles from Nantucket Town, so we had a good bike ride out to visit them both after the lighthouse.

We also stumbled upon a local landmark, the oldest house in Nantucket. It had a gorgeous herb garden in the back of which I could bore you with another dozen photos so I'll let this one suffice.

At this point we had seen quite a bit of the island and lo and behold, the sun came out so we headed off to one of the gorgeous beaches and then out to dinner at a brand new "ceviche bar" called Corazon Del Mar, where we had a great chat with the owner who waited on us from the raw bar area. After living in New England now for 10 years, Nantucket is one of the friendliest places I have visited.
Sunday was our daytrip day -- another bicycle ride 7 miles from Natucket town to a second tiny little village named Siaconset but pronounced Sconset. The Nantucket Film Festival was going on that weekend so there were movies playing everywhere, and the occasional celebrity sighting (did you see Ben Stiller? he just left this cafe!) and the strangest part of all was arriving in Sconset and seeing something strange yet familiar looming over the town's tennis courts:

Yes, friends, our celebrity sighting was The Stay Puft Marshallow Man. For real. It was the 25th anniversary of the movie, so they thought he should come over for a visit. We didn't get his autograph.

From that point on, our trip became a even more surreal. You think you're in a tiny quaint New England island, and then suddenly you're riding your bike through the African Serengeti. And there were lions.

We were at a loss for words upon spotting this little family on a distant hill as we biked through the cranberry bogs. Who would have thought we would spot the rare Cardboardus Fakus Lion while vacationing in Massachusetts? It was a startling sight.

Surprised and amazed, we biked on (and on and on, it was a long bike ride of seven miles back). And then once again, we seemed to have moved to another part of the globe. Out of the misty gloom (the our visit), there arose a windmill. Who knew we'd see lions and windmills and, well, inflatable movie stars all in one weekend? We're still recovering from that, and the 14 mile round trip bike ride.

I'll leave you with a few lovely shots of the town and a strong final recommendation to visit the Nantucket Whaling Museum when you go the island. Poor Mr. Right had to drag me in the place (oh joy, a whaling museum, I said), and then he had to pull me out the doors to leave as I was so fascinated by the history and art created by the people involved in this incredibly profitable and incredibly brutal industry. Nantucket was really a fascinating place to visit. If you're wondering why the photos stop there, the weather got really bad and then because of the wonderful weather we had a ferry trip ride that induced some, shall we say, sad tummies in certain bloggers so we won't spoil the visit by going into further detail. Otherwise it was an absolutely wonderful mini vacation!

I Heart Mr. Right (and Anniversary Cake)

I've been looking forward to this anniversary for what feels like months and months now, for lots of good reasons. Of course celebrating our first year of marriage is a big deal. And we planned a fun getaway weekend to Nantucket! However, the moment of big anticipation for me was the small one-year anniversary cake that our wedding cake baker includes as part of the package. I'm a huge cake fan, and I really loved that part of our wedding last year. Going to cake tastings was one of my favorite parts of all that crazy wedding planning.

The bakery does the same design as your cake, so we had the seashell motif again. I fell in love with their seashell cakes early on in planning as something really unique to this bakery; most bakeries make seashell themed cakes with large white chocolate seashells attached to the cake. Our bakery does frosting seashells. I know it's a small difference, but it really sold me on this bakery even though they were much further away from our Plymouth wedding site. Finally, because you are so distracted on your actual wedding day, it was fun to get to eat cake when you could relax and enjoy it, which Mr. Right and I had the chance to do this weekend. The filling on this one is orange grand marnier as I wanted to try it out. I liked it, but I was glad we used lemon on the wedding day.

I'll get in some photos of our trip to Nantucket in the next post, but hope you enjoy a little taste of our cake! Actually, we still have about 1/2 of it left, so feel free to stop by for an actual taste sometime!

Monday, May 04, 2009

The Hills are (Almost) Alive

I seem to be so lucky as to be regularly getting up to the Green Mountain State. Mr. Right and I decided we had had enough of trying to live in our house while also trying to sell it, so we went away for the weekend so the real estate folks could have it to themselves. It was a good trip -- saw some beautiful spots. We picked a funny time, in Vermont it's the "shoulder season," or to put it less euphemistically, "mud season." While things were turning pretty green in Boston in late April, Vermont wasn't quite their yet. Hence, the hills were almost alive ...

Let's go to photos, which I think is the point of this post, no?

First up, we met up with some of Mr. Right's old pals from college and their cutie pie daughter and explored an outdoor art museum called The Path of Life Garden. I'll just include one cool pic that is not of the garden as they asked not to share photos of the spot (which you can see on their website anyhow). It's a very restful and spiritually renewing place to visit.

On our way back to the highway, we passed a delapidated old dairy barn. Anyone who knows me well knows I can't resist such a photograph, so I took a couple dozen. Here are two of my favorites.

And here is a quintessential dillard57 blog photo. While technically, I was not on a food quest to find blueberry buckle in Vermont, I do always feel like I'm on the hunt for interesting regional foods, and this one passed the test with flying colors. My wonderful father-in-law and I enjoy naming all the fruit and cake combinations that exist in American cooking: crisps, cobblers, buckles, slumps, grunts, brown-betty, and pan-dowdy. So here's a buckle, which is a kind of crumb topped cake with fruit:

This trip was during that crazy 90 degree April heatwave, so a stop at the Ben and Jerry's factory seemed like a pretty smart idea.

Finally we arrived in Stowe and did a little exploring. There is a great 5 mile path that takes you through the whole town plus the surrounding woods (of which we maybe walked a mile). Then we drove up to the Trapp Family Lodge for dinner. I definitely come from a Sound of Music Family. I still know most of the words to the songs on the sountrack. When I was a girl, I thought Maria was incredibly glamorous (even whilst a nun). I still am a sucker for the movie, so I thought it would be very cool to see the lodge where they settled in the US. We had a surprisingly good dinner there considering it's level of uber-tourist attraction, and the views were sufficiently stunning to reassure us that the VonTrapp family had indeed picked a good spot for their new home. We finished the trip with a piece of Linzer Torte (above), which I have never loved for its dry texture, but this one was advertised as the best Linzer Torte in the country, so I figured I would give it a chance. And you know what, I would give it that vote. It was delicious, really nutty and fruity. Those Austrians know what they are doing. Now I just have to get myself to Vienna to compare it to the stuff in the old country.
And with that (and one small car breakdown and long tow later, but we'll save that for the new car buying post), we returned home to our cat and regular lives, looking forward to our next adventure.

Thursday, April 09, 2009

Urban Hippie Wannabe (long post)

I have granola envy. Here in New England, they don't talk about hippie lifestyles, they say crunchy, or they say granola. I like these terms as hippie to me has always been synonymous with flaky.

I have scrutinized my copy of Back to Basics: How to Learn and Enjoy Traditional American Skills to figure out how to dig a well or build a smokehouse with glee but have no immediate intention of doing so. I have two friends, M and G, doing the crunchy cool Western Massachusetts Granola Thing. During our last visit, I sampled their home-made kombucha (a whole other topic I won't get into here), admired their huge garden, and cheered on their plans for launching a meade brewery and craft business. So why can't we do that here in Boston?

I've often spoken to Mr. Right about my desire to raise chickens, bees and even a goat if I'm feeling really ambitious. He is cautiously supportive although quick to point out it's probably better to wait until we've moved to our next house. He is a wise one, Mr. Right.

M pointed recently in the direction of the beekeeper life via the blog The Crunchy Chicken . And from there I pulled this list of skills that are very handy in trying to reduce your carbon footprint, as well as tickle the fancy of apocalyptic planners. My urban crunchy self loves this list! How do you fare on this list of skills?

  • Food gardening and food storage (canning, dehydrating, pickling, fermentation, etc.) -- I'm not a great gardener, but I'm learning and getting better each year. The seedlings are going, inspired by CF who is the seedling queen! I usually manage to grow lots of wonderful herbs, flowers, enough zucchini to overwhelm us at least for a month or so before the grubs take over, and a few peppers, tomatoes and cukes. Anything else has never really taken, but this year's a new year! I'd love to become good at arugula, chard, cucumbers, radishes and peas, which all are really pretty easy and so delicious when fresh and organic. My ambitious future goals would be carrots, eggplant, grapes, strawberries, and pumpkins. My mother in law (who reads this blog, hi Mom!) is promising lessons on canning/jams, and through my in-laws we have wonderful access to rhubarb and berries, even blueberries! I've done some limited pickling, and I think it is very fun. So! Doing pretty good here.
  • Seed saving and/or fruit tree grafting -- I'm not bad on saving seeds, the hardest part is finding a place to keep them so I don't lose them over the winter. Again my wonderful in-laws are ahead of me here -- they have a variety of beautiful fruit trees. I'll have to ask them about this grafting business.
  • Foraging for wild foods, mushrooms, etc. -- I'd love to take a class on this. Fascinating! (Makes me miss my California days where you can really live off of foraging: when I lived in Santa Barbara, foraging was too easy -- you had advocados, figs, oranges and lemons landing in your lap as they fell off the trees in the neighborhood. Paradise!) As for mushrooms, I'm not a huge fan, and the whole poison thing, well, you know, makes one nervous. I know, I know, you learn the difference. But still.
  • Composting -- We're doing pretty good on this front as we share a bin with a neighbor. It's amazing how much less frequently you take out the trash when you use a compost bin, plus the trash is less stinky. Cool! Now I actually need to use the compost in the garden, which will be new for me. Nervous about the gross factor in actually spreading out the stuff sitting around from last fall. We shall see!
  • Animal husbandry (chickens, goats or larger) -- Definitely nothing larger than a goat, but how cool would it be to get to know some chickens, have eggs, and have a goat friend who is also a lawn-mower/milk-maker. The goat part is pretty unlikely unless we actually move to the country, and I'm nervous about the whole baby goat part. Not so comfortable becoming a butcher even if I like goat meat. So that's a iffy one, but I still like the idea of having one. I can dream, can't I?
  • Beekeeping -- Very interested in this, may even be doable in the suburbs. Hmm. Research.
  • Animal skinning, processing -- umm, well, not high on the list. Appreciative but squeamish, although I'm intrigued that the writer of The Julie/Julia Project turned to butchery.
  • Sheep or other animal shearing -- fascinating but also not high on the list. Love sheepies though.
  • Spinning wool -- how cool would that be! But alas I am not a knitter...
  • Knitting -- I do like to do things with my hands so I may revisit, but all the exactitude drives me nuts. I drop more stitches than I knit.
  • Sewing -- I think this would be fun. Need a sewing machine and then how to use it? Definitely suits my practical nature. And I'm awesome at sewing on buttons, so that's a start, right?
  • Cooking, baking -- I think I'm good on this one as I cook and bake a lot. Whew. At least I can really check one off. Thanks Mom and Grandma, Moosewood and Cooks Illustrated!
  • Making own cheese and/or yogurt -- I've made yogurt many times. It's so easy and so much milder than the store version which is so very sour. I was perversely proud of the puzzlement generated by asking for a yogurt maker on my wedding registry. Have done some cheese-making which is fun. However unless you have a huge supply of extra milk around, it's not a big priority. Definitely when I get a goat, mmm goat cheese.
  • Making beer and/or wine -- Mr. Right has made beer. Cool! Wine making would be fun if I had a ton of grapes. So, not high on the list until the arbor is up!
  • Solar cooking -- Might be worth researching when I've really become crunchy.
  • Alternative medicine and/or first aid -- I've started to play with herbs and really get into that. Am definitely into the doula/alternative birth options scene, which I've discussed previously on this blog. I have and continue to give a lot of serious thought to midwifery, and I strongly support and can attest to the power of healing touch through massage/accupuncture/reiki and so on. There is a LOT to learn here and I am very excited to do so.
  • Making soap (cold process from oils and lye) -- could be fun! I have been experimenting with making my own laundry detergent and dishwasher detergent, as I'm horrified by the price of the more environmental stuff, and I'm horrified by the nastiness of the cheaper stuff. Tadah, the internet offers a bounty of other options! I'm also absurdly into drying my clothes on the line outside. I love how they smell afterard.
  • Making candles -- if I had a bee hive, I'd make candles in the morning, I'd make candles in the evening, all over this town...
  • Carpentry -- Mr. Right digs this stuff. Certainly would be handy.
  • Plumbing or electrical -- Another handy skill, not high on my list. I rue my girlyness.
  • Bike maintenance and repair -- I have some very very very basic skills here, certainly could use more.
  • Appliance repair -- I'm a pretty good fiddler with appliances, but motor repair is certainly beyond me. Funny, I never even thought of this as a skill, but of course it is!

I would love to have more of these skills. There is an authentic-ness to these skills and a link to the past that makes me happy when I am berry-picking or pie-making or yogurt-making. Totally energizing for me!

How are you on this list? Does it intrigue you or exhaust you?

Monday, March 02, 2009

I've never been able to resist a bakery. So when I spotted Tatte Bakery in the neighbhorhood where I was meeting a friend for lunch, I decided to stop by. I had admired their booth at the Copley Square Farmer's Market. Their set-up was beautiful in this antiquey, nostalgic sepia-toned way, and I wondered what other wonders their store might hold. It was as pretty as I had hoped: the displays of pastry and funny antique signs making my camera finger itch in an almost painful way, especially with no camera on me.

Their pastry offerings are artful and expensive. $6 for their signature "nut boxes" which, as promised, are a box made of shortbread filled with nuts in a caramel glaze. Simple and very elegant. So simple and elegant that I have to confess I am not crazy about them. I like some messiness in my pastry, cream squirting out the side or fruit on my nose. I want to be overcome when I bite into something because it fills my mouth and nose with flavor and texture. When something is so pretty and not really, well, bite-able, it turns it into sculpture rather than food. I like sculpture and I like playfulness with food, but if it's supposed to be a cookie, then I want to be able to bite into it. I'm still not sure how you are supposed to eat the nut box. Mr. Right and I mostly just picked the nuts out of the box and ate them, and then ate the sides. It definitely tasted good. And the puddle of caramel at the bottom of the box made up for the non-smooshy no cream factor.

They also have Hamantashen, which is much more biteable as a cookie and I adore them, if only because I love their story. Their name means Haman's Hats, and they are based on the Bible story about Queen Esther, who outsmarted and triumphed over the evil Haman who was out to have her killed. Traditionally they are made with poppy seed or fruit filling, but here they had nutella filling. Awesome! And to make it even more fun, as I was looking up how to spell the name and story about the cookie, I found out about this: which I'll leave you to read and enjoy on your own. And I was very happy with the hamantash I ate.

What is it about baked goods? Proust may have been one of the first to describe the emotional power of the pastry, but they definitely take me back to childhood. Maybe it's the memories of going to the bakeries with my mother when I was little where the lady at the counter would give every kid a cookie.

I'm glad I went in and wow, the place definitely got my blogger's juices flowing in a powerful way. My reaction surprised me a little -- with them it wasn't the product itself but the way they presented it. I loved how they packaged it. I would enjoy taking friends there. So I say hat's off to Tatte for doing something interesting and beautiful.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Winter Questions

Winter is a good time to settle in and take things slowly. We have some amaryllis bulbs unfolding slowly in the kitchen, and, like life, it will be blooming before you know it.

I don't mind the snow and the cold. And there are some seasonal pleasures, like blood oranges. They are in all the grocery stores right now, and I love their beautiful color and sweet, berry/orange flavor. Eating foods in their season just makes them so much more special, more of a treat.

We're also pondering some questions during this quiet time. Put the house back on the market in the middle of a crazy economic downturn? What about renting it? What about nursing or midwifery studies? And our two old cars that occasionally show signs of giving up, what to do about them?

So, we're taking it slowly, keeping warm and weighing our options.

Monday, January 19, 2009

Cookies for the President

I love baked goods and I love photography, but I'm not sure I like photos on baked goods. I guess if you are having an inaugural party, these would be a fun part to have somewhere on the menu. They were at a local bakery and I just had to take a photo. I've seen these pictures on cakes before and always thought that eating someone's photo is a bit odd.
Nonetheless, it's an exciting moment in history, and I'm glad people are inspired enough to create such cookies at this time.
And happy MLK day! I love the James Taylor song, "Send a Little Light," which says,
"Let us turn our thoughts today to Martin Luther King, and recognize that there are ties between us,
all men and women,
living on this earth,
ties of hope and love,
sister and brotherhood."

No Dukes in Braintree

Mr. Right and I are watching the John Adams series and liking it very much. We are in the episode where John Adams is accused of wanting too much nobility given to the President, so his colleagues are calling him "The Duke of Braintree." We find this very amusing as we watch from beautiful Braintree, MA. Here is a photo I snapped last fall using the cell phone. This spot is about a 20 minute walk from our house, which, unfortunately, does not have such a beautiful view of the water, nor a duke.

Thursday, January 08, 2009

Christmas Culinary Craziness Part II

One of many reasons I married Mr. Right: in my stocking he includes palm sugar (on right) and organic coconut curry chocolate bar (left). Happy sigh. How did I get so lucky? Oh and please ignore the Christmas morning hair do. Stop looking at it!

Here is Laura's now semi-famous semi-freddo. No, it's not semi-freddo, it's flan. But it was fun to write semi-famous semi-freddo.

Finally, my sister Sue's really gorgeous and equally yummy Buche de Noel (or Yule Log for you non-Frenchies). Happy new year!

Wednesday, January 07, 2009

Christmas Cooking and other treats

I am a little late to capture any last vestiges of holiday spirit, but I wanted to share some of my culinary explorations this past holiday.

From Lynn Rosetti's cookbook, The Italian Country Table, I made sugared chestnuts which were extremely fun because you got to light them on fire. Here's a picture post flambee as having the fire going and taking a photo was just more than I could handle. Also some beautiful dried figs soaked in a vermouth syrup. Oooh fancy.

I finally got to try Mr. Right's mom's famous quahogs -- large stuffed clams only describes their most literal properties; they are one of those local-only treats that make you go, ohhhh, this is why people love clams. They were as wonderful as everyone promised. And I finally learned how to say their name correctly (ko-hog). Mr. Right says her clam chowder is even better, but she doesn't make it anymore because no one in the family digs clams anymore. I also consumed the second of two holiday meals that commenced with still warm homemade cinnamon buns, some sort of family tradition that just about made me weep as I encountered them, either with pleasure or confusion at how this could be part of the same meal as a slab of prime rib, I am not sure.

Next, Mr. Right had asked that when we visit Pittsburgh over the holiday, could we please please have breakfast at DeLuca's in the Strip? He had seen it on the show "Man vs. Food" and wanted to try the mixed grill featured. I was amazed that my entire family agreed to meet us down there for breakfast on a Tuesday morning. It was some wonderful family togetherness and Mr. Right was really thrilled. I took a photo of the mixed grill which really doesn't do the diner goodness justice. I guess I should have taken it before the ketchup was applied.

Now you'll just have to hang in there for part two of this little documentary which will include some new year's treats. It's food blogging this week on the dillard network! (to be continued!)