Archive | October, 2009

"monday, tuesday, thursday, wednesday, friday, sunday, saturday!"

Hello! Both Kelly and David (aka “The Boyfriend”) here to share with you drool-worthy pictures of our latest culinary adventures from Sunday, Monday, and Tuesday (hence the title. Familiar quote, anyone?).

SUNDAY

The Meal: chicken in a sherry mushroom sauce with garlic mashed potatoes and pan-fried asparagus.
The Chef: David

The Ingredients:

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The Plate:

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The Result:

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MONDAY

After the hay ride Aunt Katie let us take a few of the leftover pumpkins to dispose of as we chose. Naturally we chose to roast the seeds (David) and make pumpkin puree (Kelly)! (Hey, Kelly promised to try her Pumpkin Apple Spice muffins with homemade puree sometimes, didn’t she?)

The Ingredients:

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The Result:

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But there was still dinner to consider…

[car ride home after running errands]

David: (oh-so casually) So…do you want to be in charge of dinner tonight?
Kelly: (immediately) No.
David: …
Kelly: (reluctantly) I mean, I guess I can… If I have to…
David: (immediately) Good. Cause I don’t want to.
Kelly: But… whadda we got? (A rare reversal of roles!!!)

The Meal: Asparagus mushroom quiche with cheddar and green onions, in a potato crust.
The Chef: Kelly

The Ingredients:

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The Plate:

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TUESDAY

The Meal: Slow-cooked porkchops, carrots, sauerkraut, and apples with homemade applesauce (and a side of leftover cheesy garlic mashed potatoes. Because they are that delicious).
The Chef: David
The Sous-Chef: Kelly (she made the applesauce)

Pre-plated:

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The Plate:

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The Result:

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(Kelly’s plate is in the upper left. Unfortunately she discovered that sauerkraut wasn’t her “thing.” Otherwise, another hit!)

In keeping with the jumbled quote serving as the title for tonight’s post, here’s a photo from last Friday. We attended a dinner party at a relative’s house, and Kelly befriended an otherwise stranger-hating cat, Quimby, while battling the last of her week-long cold.

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Note: Recipes are of course available on request.

Posted by on October 28, 2009 in Food

a quick update

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I’m here to reassure you; I have not fallen off the face of the earth. I have, however, been sick. Like, bed-ridden sick. For over a week now! I’m finally up and about, and have been leaving the house the past few days. I still have a persistent cough that keeps me up at night if I’m not vigilant with the cough syrup, but all in all I feel loads better than I have in a long time.

It feels as though both nothing and tons of stuff has been going on in the meantime. David has had several jobs interviews, and I’ve had one meet-and-greet and made appointments for two more in the coming week. We went to see Where The Wild Things Are and finished watching the final season of Deadwood. We attended a dinner party and spent a day making a comic book (King Kong vs. T-Rex. For those interested, T-Rex wins) with David’s five year old pseudo-nephew Gordon (his cousin’s son).

We also went on a hay ride! Every year, Aunt Katie and her husband Tim put together a quintessential fall day of pumpkin decorating and take family, friends, and neighbors on a hay ride through their idyllic land. Take a look:

Posted by on October 27, 2009 in Personal

Post apple picking dinner…whadda we got?

Apple picking was fun, fun, fun. It was a fine fall day and a nice drive down to the orchard. Riley and I were feeling good–we had both exceeded our job applications for the morning. See? Look, apple picking enjoyment!

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For dinner later we were sort of planning on Eggplant Parmesan and Mushroom Risotto. We had leftover eggplants from a party we had for my Mom’s birthday the day after we got here, but unfortunately the gifted plants had gone bad. But, we were hoping to find some replacement eggplant from the small farmers market in the town we’re staying in, St. Croix Falls, WI. Instead we walked away from the market with habaneros and green onions. So, when we got home, we began one of our favorite games…what’s for dinner? Well, whadda we got in the fridge and pantry honey!?

[a little explanation here. when we get to this point in the evening and we are wondering what we have for dinner it usually falls on me, the boyfriend, to come up with ideas. i’m not complaining, i love doing this, but i just want to make sure you all understand this. “whadda we got in the fridge” means, “what are you making for dinner, honey, cause you haven’t said anything about it yet and i’m starving.” oh, and sometimes i even get vetoed.]

THE PROCESS, of whadda we got, in dialogue:

“Well, we were going to make Mushroom Risotto and Eggplant Parmesan. The Eggplant Parmesan had Marinara sauce in it right, so we still have those ingredients, right?”

Tentatively, “Yes.”

“Let’s see, what else do we have? Hmmm…” Brats, carrots, tomatoes, green onions, Zucchini, mushrooms (for the risotto, of course), cherry tomatoes, onion, potato, beer, hummus, wine, rice, pasta, soup, cake, oatmeal, eggs, habanero, cheese, feta cheese, romano cheese, yogurt, flat bread, lots and lots and lots of apples, and… “…what do you think of this? Mushroom Risotto, fried brats, mushroom and green onion on top with a little Marinara over that!” [my college roommates would have been cheering at this point.]

*a very quizzical, apprehensive, scared, yet still starving look*

“Hey, risotto’s good. Brats are good. Marinara is good…………risotto with brats and marinara…..not so good?”

*meek, still starving and apprehensive look* “yeah…not so good?” **VETOED**

“Well–”

“–we have pasta don’t we? What about that and marinara? And we have chicken in the freezer don’t we?”

“But I want to use up what we have. And what about the brats and mushrooms?”

“Okay.” [not really an answer, but in this situation it’ll do.]

THE DINNER: Spaghetti Marinara, with veggies and brats.

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Of course the land locked (and, obviously, in love) gorgeous gal loved it. She shredded some fresh Romano (a staple in our household) right beforehand and was ready and waiting when it was all served up. [i had to suggest taking the picture before she dug in and thus the discussion about this blog that led me to finally write my first contribution.] The whole thing was readily consumed before we could even really think about how good it actually was. There were some leftovers, and–naturally–we have some purposely spared mushrooms for my [i like to think] famous mushroom risotto…

David’s Marinara

  • one whole chopped onion
  • a slightly less than equal amount of chopped carrot
  • about two cloves of minced garlic
  • approximately 1/4 cup red wine
  • one can tomato paste
  • four fresh tomatoes, peeled and roughly chopped
  • a very healthy amount of dried basil, and then some
  • some oregano
  • two teaspoons of sugar
  • two teaspoons of salt
  • ground black pepper to taste

Saute onion, carrot and garlic in olive oil for a few minutes until soft. Add wine, saute for a few more minutes. Add everything else, plus about a quarter cup of water and simmer on low-med for about 20 min. Cool, then puree. Once you have the texture you desire put it back on the low-med heat (here you should taste it and add whatever you think it might need. tonight it was a little more salt and basil.) for about 10 min (just enough time to boil the pasta, if you started the water boiling when you set the sauce to cool.)

Veggies and Brat

  • two brats, cooked and chopped
  • two green onion, sliced
  • one zucchini, chopped
  • four mushrooms, chopped
  • sugar, salt, ground black pepper

Toss everything together first and let sit for a few minutes. [whenever you fry/saute/whatever fresh veggies, always, ALWAYS, toss them with salt and sugar a few minutes ahead of time to “cut them” and open up the flavor.] Heat a frying pan (not non-stick) with a little olive oil to high heat. Add everything and stir continuously until the mushrooms are done and the brats are lightly browned. Done.

Posted by on October 14, 2009 in Food

One Should Always Eat Muffins Quite Calmly. It Is The Only Way To Eat Them. *

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There’s a few things about the fall that really make it my favorite season. I love the crisp, sunny weather. I love all the colors of the foliage. And I really love apple picking.

Apple picking rocks. And last week, David and I went out to Aamodt’s Apple Farm. It was everything an apple orchard should be, which both delighted and surprised me.

I know it’s a bit narrow-minded of me, but apples come from New England. That’s just always how I’ve thought about it. Apples are a New England thing. And going apple picking is something I remember doing as a kid, and then again sporadically in my adolescence.

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A truly great apple picking experience requires two things: hot apple cider, and apple cider donuts. Aamodt’s, clearly a worthy apple orchard, had both. In addition to the two bags of apples that we picked ourselves, we bought an additional bag at the store in the barn. We also bought some local honey (which I have been enjoying immensely in my morning tea) and I bought one tiny old fashioned caramel (which was out of this world).

But before the shopping, naturally, I insisted that we get to the heart of the whole apple picking experience: the cider and the donuts.

I like apples as much as the next gal, but the whole point of apple picking is going inside the barn, with your cheeks red from the crisp cool air, and sitting down on a wooden bench with a cup of hot apple cider and an apple cider donut to dunk in it. Mmmmm… I’m ready to go apple picking all over again!

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…Not that we need to. We certainly picked our fill. We got a bit overzealous, actually, and wound up with way more apples than we could possible need. So I have been doing a LOT of baking. Apple butter, applesauce, German applecake.  Apple pies, apple crisp, and apple dumplings are forthcoming. And yet still we have apples upon apples upon apples in our kitchen.

One of my favorite recipes ever (and this is saying something) is my recipe for Pumpkin Apple Spice Muffins. You must, I mean, you really, really must make these muffins. Soon. They are a perfect bite of autumn. So aromatic, so flavorful, so GOOD. You can make them for a big brunch like I did two weeks ago, or you can make a batch for you and your family, like I’m about to do. These freeze extremely well, so you don’t have to worry about devouring them all in one sitting, which is a very real danger because these muffins are THAT DELICIOUS.

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Best Ever Pumpkin Apple Spice Muffins

Ingredients

  • 2 1/2 cups of flour (up to half can be whole wheat)
  • 2 cups of sugar (brown or white. I prefer brown, personally)
  • 1/2 cup of applesauce (I’m using homemade applesauce this time around, but store bought works just as well).
  • 2 eggs, lightly beaten
  • 1 can of pumpkin puree; not pumpkin pie filling. (You can also use 1 cup of homemade pumpkin puree which I swear to try out myself sometime soon. In the meantime I’m a fan of Libby’s).
  • Several apples, peeled, cored, and chopped. (Depending on size the number will vary. I used about 6 smallish-medium apples today. I like a lot of apple in my muffins!)
  • 1 tsp of baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp of salt
  • 1 1/2 tsp of cinnamon
  • 3/4 tsp of ginger
  • scant 1/2 tsp of nutmeg

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Directions
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Combine eggs, pumpkin puree, and applesauce in a large mixing bowl. Add sugar, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, ginger, and nutmeg, stirring to combine. Add the flour one cup at a time, mixing well after each addition. Gently fold in the apples. Grease a muffin tin well (I recently discovered Baker’s Joy and I’m in LOVE! I also like using cupcake liners). For nicely domed bakery-esque muffins, fill tin to the top with batter. This method will produce roughly 18 regular sized muffins. If you fill each tin 3/4 of the way full,  you can get 24 regular sized muffins. Personally, I prefer the pretty domes. Plus, more muffin! You can sprinkle some sugar over the tops for some crunch and sparkle if you like! Place muffin tin on the center rack and bake for 35 to 40 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean. Cool on a rack, and enjoy!

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Keep your eyes peeled for the next Land Locked (and in Love!) post, which will be written by a very special guest!

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*Lots of love, and perhaps a prize, if you can identify the source of the quote in the title!

Posted by on October 14, 2009 in Food

are we there yet?

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We made it! We’re in Minnesota!

Ok, so technically we’re in Wisconsin right now. Details, details.

I know this post comes a bit later than we’d all like, but things have been hectic! I’m going to do my very best to give you a run-down of everything that’s happened in the eleven days since we left New York City.

But before I get into the adventures of the last few days, let me put you all at ease by answering the number one question on everyone’s mind: HOW COLD IS IT?!

Oh, no. Sorry. The number one question everyone’s asking me is: How are you doing?!

Answer: I am doing great (and it is pretty. damn. cold)!

We hired movers to load the truck up with all of our stuff, which was the best $75 I ever spent, seriously. David helped them because he’s incapable of sitting still when he’s impatient and anxious to get going. I sat in the truck like a total princess and didn’t lift a finger. You know, I ought to be embarrassed about that, but I’m not gonna lie. It was awesome.

We went up to Boston on Sunday and stayed over Sunday night and Monday night. We took David out for a real Roast Beef sandwich (“What, is it like Arby’s or something?” “NO.”) We got chinese food because I had been CRAVING crab rangoon for about four years and THEY DON’T HAVE IT IN NEW YORK. If anyone ever asks me why I left NYC, I’m going to look them dead in the eye and say that I left because of the crab rangoon shortage. Appalling.

It was really wonderful to stop off in Massachusetts one last time. Everyone was so happy for us, and took the trouble to remind me what I’m getting into. You know, like “I hear it’s REALLY COLD out there! Love you! Miss you! DON’T FREEZE TO DEATH!”

We loaded the truck up with even more stuff. Highlights include: an electric blanket (“isn’t it really cold up there, or something?”), a food processor, and a shiny, red, KITCHENAID. Also among my old things that have been packed up since my college days I found THE UGLIEST AFGHAN EVER! “So ugly it’s pretty!” as I used to say back in high school to describe everything I owned. Of course this monstrosity is my FAVORITE blanket ever and you can bet that when David and I get our stuff out of storage I will take tons of pictures to show you. Perhaps I’ll even dedicate a blog post entirely to that ratty thing. It will rock!

So, anyway. Saying goodbye was a lot more difficult than I expected it to be. I cried and cried saying goodbye to each of my parents. I’m still pretty homesick, actually. It’s funny; I haven’t really lived at home in years and years, but this is the first time I really feel like I’m leaving home, you know?

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And then it was just us and the open road! David, me….and Durpalug. Yeah. See that picture of the extremely perturbed cat on the right? That’s Durp. When she wasn’t sleeping or trying to make a break for it by attempting to jump out the window at a toll booth in Illinois and instead getting her claws stuck in my hair while I was driving, she looked like that. To be fair, I can’t really blame her. By the end of the trip I pretty much looked like that, too. But with more frizz.

What did we do on the drive, you ask? We drove. No stopping off at the world’s largest ball of yarn for us! It was pedal to the metal. We drove from Boston (2 hours of nearly stand-still traffic on the Mass Pike!) to just past Cleveland, OH on Tuesday. Then from there to Minnesota on Wednesday. Pretty much every time I hopped in the driver’s seat it started raining. We were wise enough to bring a fully stocked cooler with us, so we had plenty of carrots, apples, peanut butter, tortillas, hummus, trail mix, granola bars, and, most importantly, red bull to last us. We only stopped for dinner. (The first night: Applebee’s. And I swear, I was so excited to get out of the truck and eat something other than the rabbit food listed above that I was practically jumping up and down. Never mind that our waiter did a magic trick every time he came to the table. Never mind that the air conditioner was on full blast in September. Never mind that it was freaking Applebee’s–it was one of the best meals I’ve ever eaten. The second night: Chili’s. Not such a great time there. No magic tricks, for one thing).

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A few rest stops here and there, but mostly we just drove, drove, drove. Despite the photographic evidence showing that Durp was a pretty miserable kitty-cat, I must say that she was surprisingly well behaved for the most part. She developed a particular interest in big rig trucks. Every time we got near to one on the highway she would perk up and put her paws on the window and start sniffing at it. Cute!

We got in Wednesday night and almost hit two deer on the way to St. Croix Falls, Wisconsin where we’re staying! Yes, I moved to Minnesota, but I’m staying in Wisconsin. David’s Aunt Katie was generous enough to let us use her basement apartment until we can get our own place. It’s a completely separate two bedroom apartment in the basement of her house. We have our own entrance, bathroom, and kitchen. Have I mentioned how extremely fortunate we are, and how super grateful we are to David’s family for helping us out so much? Because we are.  St. Croix Falls is right on the border of Minnesota, and with luck we’ll be moving to Minneapolis soon.

It’s been an adjustment for sure. This is more “country” even than Ithaca ever was. It’s by far the most rural environment I’ve ever lived in. It’s beautiful, though. Very quiet and peaceful, and very scenic. The leaves are absolutely stunning up here, which surprised me. I always think of Autumn as a New England thing.

I’m homesick, for sure. Way more so than I’ve ever been moving to any other place. David has been worried about me. He’s so anxious, and wants to make sure that I adjust and that I’m happy here. I keep telling him, “I am so happy to be here! It’s just going to take a little while to adjust. And you have to adjust to being back here, yourself!” And it’s true. We have each other, and that has made this transition so much easier. Even being in an unfamiliar place, with all our things packed up in storage, it helps so much that his family has been so kind and welcoming. And having him here to look out for me makes all the difference in the world. We’ve finally begun to settle into a routine and have begun job searching. That helps a lot, too. In the meantime, I’ve been keeping myself busy in all sorts of ways! But those stories are for future posts to come! And I promise there won’t be such a long dry spell next time!

I love and miss you all so much! And you New Yorkers–do me a favor and really relish the next bagel you get, ok? God, I miss those.

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Posted by on October 9, 2009 in Personal