Thursday, 31 December 2009

Best Homemade Tastes in 2009

The things we made in our teeny little Napa or even teensier Vero kitchen that were so delicious. I say 'we' because husband is the best sous chef anyone could ever ask for, or as of late, the only chef around here.

Silky chestnut soup (recipe here)

Toasted pasta with duck leg guazzetto (A Mingling of Tastes)

Caramelized tofu (101 Cookbooks)

Roasted asparagus with walnut crema and pecorino (Orangette)

Plum sorbet (from Sunday Suppers at Lucques)

Watercress soup with gentleman's relish--buttery anchovy heaven--toast (from Sunday Suppers at Lucques); part of our St. Patrick's week eating in March

Slow-cooked brisket sandwiches with blue cheese coleslaw, part of our July 4th feasting (from the September 2008 issue of Bon Appetit)

Leche merengada with a shot of espresso poured on top (from the bible of ice cream books, The Perfect Scoop)

ridiculously easy Nectarine sorbet (also from The Perfect Scoop)

apple tart cake (here, from Orangette)

olive oil cake with creme fraiche and candied tangerines (from Sunday Suppers at Lucques)

potimarron soup -- via Chez Pim (we couldn't find potimarron or kabocha squash, so we went with butternut. Simple. Amazing.)

Thursday, 24 December 2009

let your hearts be light

from now on our troubles will be out of sight....

Am taking a cue from the oldest one in our house and am all set to really enjoy every second of Christmas this year. From singing my heart out at midnight mass to eating tortellini in brodo to giving Steve new pj's to wear tonight. This is our first Christmas with my family in five years. And I'm over the moon about that.

May you have joy wherever you are. Merry Christmas!

Tuesday, 22 December 2009

Some advice

  • Don't wait until you're 30 ripe years old to watch It's a Wonderful Life for the first time; I mean, you can, it's certainly better than waiting until you're 31--but you'll wonder what else you've been missing out on.
  • It feels good to listen to your husband's gentle suggestion that homemade cookies don't need to be packaged with a handwritten note listing each type of cookie because really, people just want something delicious in their belly. Amen. 
  • Miniature gingerbread houses to perch on steaming cups of hot chocolate for Christmas morning are buckets of fun to make with your Marmousch on the 19th...even if the roofs still aren't attached by the 22nd. There's always tomorrow.

Thursday, 17 December 2009

il presepio

A presepio is the nativity scene, a collection of miniature houses, people, and animals (most importantly a stable with Mary, Joseph, and baby Jesus) to represent and honor the most important birthday of all. Marmousch always made an elaborate one for us growing up, typical in Italian homes, and as you can imagine getting to play in this miniature world was a dream come true. This year she gave me the green light to go haywire on the presepio. It may not have been the main reason to move back to my hometown, but it was way up there :) 

Here it is. I am plum proud. Our presepio by Marmousch and I. 

p.s. no baby Jesus yet as that gets put on at midnight by the youngest in the family. We are tradition sticklers 'round these parts.
p.p.s. what, you didn't know there was a gorilla present at the birth of Jesus? 

Wednesday, 16 December 2009

In which my heart leapt into my throat

...+ I thought, this is stupid.

September 27th 2009.

Tuesday, 15 December 2009

happy birthday to my lamb

Now I'm going to go pee my pants like I did 28 years ago when we first met.

Monday, 14 December 2009

St. Lucia

December 13th we honored St. Lucia. I don't have a spreck of Swede in me but I've always loved loved loved the idea of the eldest daughter waking up before everyone else, baking saffron buns, and serving them to her family in bed whilst singing with her hair gloriously done up in braids.

Well...the buns took a wee bit longer than planned. By the time I finished at three in the afternoon, Steve had long been out of bed.

But. Hair braided, check. Singing, double check.

Friday, 11 December 2009

happy weekend

does this little boy and his dad make you go weak in the knees or what? This was in Kenya.

Thursday, 10 December 2009

Wednesday, 9 December 2009

It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas.

my wrapping drawer--

our freezer--

the Christmas box--pulled down from the tippity topmost shelf--

Tuesday, 8 December 2009


It's our adventing for today--get a pot of gluhwein going and enjoy it while watching one of the Christmas movies we've got (probably the Heat Miser/Cold Miser one, it's my man's favorite).

Steve introduced me to gluhwein. I think gluhwein plus nighttime Christmas markets equals happy memories of the six years he spent in Germany. We tracked down a how-to and it gets made at least a few times each winter. You would think that after living in Napa I'd be horrified at the thought of heating up a perfectly good bottle of wine but no. It's the perfect Christmasy drink, all fragrant and warm and sweet. And no goodly amount of teasing from the cute Scottish couple we met in Kenya (how can you like that crap?!) will change my mind. Here she is, via recipezaar.


1 bottle red wine
4 whole cloves
1 cinnamon stick
rind of 1 lemon
1/2 cup sugar

Combine wine + sugar and heat on stove until just before boiling. Wrap remaining ingredients in cheesecloth, tie, and add to wine mixture. Simmer on stove for about 15 minutes. Ladle into your favorite coffee mugs.

in the photograph is Pride merlot, quite possibly our all-time favorite, but no way did we use that for gluhwein! that would be a sin. feel free to go way cheaper. we do.

Monday, 7 December 2009

Cookie Sunday

Yesterday kicked off cookie week. I did this last year and in a bizarre June Cleaver fantasy way I sorta loved it. All year long I squirrel cookie recipes away in a certain clear sheet protector marked Christmas. And yesterday I firmly knotted my favorite apron and set to making 7 batches of cookies. Over the next few days I'll make five more. They're tucked away in our freezer and soon the 12 Days of Cookies can begin, little gifts for family and friends. Hip hip. 

1. Brown-Sugar Brown-Butter Shorties -via Smitten Kitchen
2. Pistachio Cranberry Icebox Cookies - from...I have no idea (sorry)!
3. Dark Chocolate Hazelnut Bites - via Chez Pim
4. New Orleans Pralines - also Chez Pim
4. Apricot Dreams - ??
5. Toasted Pine Nut Cookies - from this NY Times article
7. Viennese Chocolate Sables - via aaplemint
8.  Chocolate "Blocks" with Fruit and Nuts -via Orangette
9. Ginger Snaps - from Alice Waters' The Art of Simple Food
10. Real Danish Butter Cookies -another Orangette
11. Schrafft'sButterscotch Cookies - and another.
12. Chocolate Chip Cookies - mmmm yes, the NY Times recipe

So far the undisputed favorite has been the New Orleans pralines (pronounced PRAH-leans, did you know?). It's so melty that as Steve puts it, is more candy than cookie, but we'll certainly take it. 

Sunday, 6 December 2009

Our Christmas playlist

I love it so.

Santa Baby - Eartha Kitt + Henri Rene

Adeste Fidelis - from A Scottish Christmas
Mele Kalikimaka - Bing Crosby
Baby It's Cold Outside - Ella Fitzgerald + Louis Armstrong
Auld Lang Syne - Mairi Campbell + Dave Francis
Hark! the Herald Angels Sing - Amy Grant
Where Are You Christmas - Faith Hill
It Came Upon a Midnight Clear - Sixpence None the Richer
Here Comes Santa Claus - Elvis
Blue Christmas - Elvis
Silent Night - Susan Boyle
It's The Most Wonderful Time of the Year - Andy Williams
Overture from The Nutcracker - Tchaikovsky 
March from The Nutcracker - Tchaikovsky 
Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy from The Nutcracker - Tchaikovsky 
Russian Dance from The Nutcracker - Tchaikovsky
Happy Xmas (War is Over) - John Lennon
If You Want to Sing Out, Sing Out - Cat Stevens (I know it's not Christmas, but...)
Frosty the Snowman - Jimmy Durante
Jingle Bell Rock -Bobby Helms
Oh Holy Night - Angelina
Christmas/Sarajevo 12/24 - Trans-Siberian Orchestra
Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer - Burl Ives
Dream a Dream - Charlotte Church +  Billy Gilman
Christmas Canon- Trans-Siberian Orchestra
All I Want for Christmas Is You - Mariah Carey (an homage to my favorite movie)
Silver Bells - Elvis
Oh Come All Ye Faithful - Mormon Tabernacle Choir (one can't have it on their playlist too many times)
Winter Wonderland - Tony Bennett
Tu Scendi Dalle Stelle - Ennio Morricone
You're a Mean One Mr. Grinch - Thurl Ravenscroft
White Christmas - Clyde McPhatter + The Drifters

and while I'm catching up, here was our adventing on December 2, 3, & 4th:
2nd: Writing our wish lists.
3rd: Making hot chocolate on a stick (Delicious--how to is here). It tasted way better than the $16 Sarabeth's version I bought a few weeks ago.
4th: Going to see The Nutcracker. Took me way back. Like, 4th grade back.

Friday, 4 December 2009

Love you pook

Seven years ago today we went out to lunch and ten hours later we were still talking out by our cars. My parents almost called the police they were so worried. I knew you felt the same way I did when you called to make sure I had gotten home safe.

It was our first date.

Happy (dating) anniversary to the man I can still talk to for hours and hours and hours and forget all about what time it is.

Thursday, 3 December 2009

Why I wanted to go to Zambia.

So I could swim in the Devil's Bathtub. 

Wednesday, 2 December 2009

Victoria Falls

Rightly so one of the Seven Wonders of the World.

Tuesday, 1 December 2009

happy 1st day of advent + our advent calendar

Yesterday after putting in the hours at work, after getting my knitting on, after going for a run, after eating dinner with the Saints-Patriots game in the background (go Saints!), I finished up our advent calendar.

a faboo roundup of advent calendars is here. Next year I'm all about the hanging slippers one, I will copycat it to the nth degree because it's that adorable (to me). The shoesies are already in the works.

p.s. December 1st is about our Christmas playlist.