Deconstructed, open-face tacos. Aka, do I ever stray from the Smitten Kitchen archives when I cook?
Purpose: To determine whether a vermontucky, served hot, would be an ideal winter drink.
Hypothesis: A cold vermontucky is perfect in summertime. I think that it would be equally fantastic when heated, and a great alternative for colder months.
Materials: Lemons, water, maple syrup, and bourbon. Because I am lazy, I will use bottled organic lemon juice rather than squeezing my own lemons.
Procedure: Heat all ingredients in a saucepan. Taste and adjust water/lemon/syrup/booze ratios. Decant to a teacup.
Results: The hot vermontucky tasted fine, but not as good as I had expected. In fact, I preferred it as it cooled down.
Conclusion: The vermontucky is best prepared as God intended it: cold, and in the summertime.
In the next week-and-a-little-bit, I have at a minimum: a hair appointment, pub knitting, the international wine festival (hurrah!), a seminar on cab franc, a day of cross country skiing at Callaghan Valley, a dentist appointment, my Business Law exam (which means I'm in study mode as well right now), and our monthly staff social. In the meantime, I've also been trying out some new eateries:
Last week, Tara and I had dinner at Hubbub. They say that their sandwiches are life-changing, and while that has yet to be determined in my case, the roasted vegetable one was pretty fabulous. (Their side salads look quite inspired too.) Today, Sian and Tara and I were very excited to try out Cartem's donuts, and we then proceeded to have coffee at Nelson and the Seagull (as their website says: "Bread and coffee. That pretty much sums up what we are all about"). Sian was nice enough to let me have a bite of her ploughman's sandwich, and I'll definitely be going back within the next week to get one of my own. Their bread is baked in house and, get this - on Wednesday evenings there's yoga followed by dinner, for $25. How great is that?
Also, Sian has assured me that this is a fantastic veggie burger. I'm making pickled onions tonight, and I think the onions and the burger are fated to be together.
I have an annoying habit of wanting to sew, and then not sewing. Or sewing something in painfully slow and infrequent installments. It was time for an intervention, so I staged an easy win using Gertie's extremely helpful half-slip tutorial. For me, these slips are super functional, since they prevent your skirt from sticking to your hosiery, as well as kiboshing any potential transparency issues. (The two points where I veered from Gertie's instructions were to make my slips are slightly narrower at the waist than at the hem, and to sew my elastic on the lazy way: just a zigzag stitch on the right side, and no steam shrinking.)
This one is very twee.
Different lighting and slightly less twee.
Now that these are done, it's time to finally get cracking on Vogue 8379, inspired by the Selfish Seamstress. I think I pre-washed my fabric for this dress in the summer. INEXCUSABLE.
Now this is my kind of humour. The first segment in this Spilled Milk podcast where they talk about heirloom apple names? Totally cracks me up. I've listened to it several times and it still makes me laugh so hard I cry. As a side note, don't you think that Hunge would also be a good name for a cat?
Watching Nigella Lawson cook is always mood enhancing. Maybe it's the way she talks about and describes food, maybe it's the pleasure she takes in cooking and the unabashed focus that food has in her life. In later episodes, it's also about the sheer number of warm glowy fairy lights in her kitchen. (It seems like Youtube has taken down a lot of Nigella's videos, which is a shame; even though I've seen most of them, I still like to put one on every now and then for a little relaxing and vicarious cookery).
Lake Breeze Meritage is new to me, and rather pleasant. It's available at Village VQA Wines for about $20.
Yesterday I checked out Plenty from the library. Again. This one may be worth purchasing, even though space on the cookbook shelf is tight. First up? Soba noodles with eggplant and mango. Shakshuka. Sweet potato cakes. Swiss chard, chickpea and tamarind stew. Mee goreng.
Tonight's dinner was Indian Spiced Cauliflower and Potatoes, and Mixed Citrus Salad with Feta and Mint. I fully expected the cauliflower and potatoes to be divine, and they were... okay. Meanwhile, I had been dragging my feet on making the citrus salad. Perhaps I was feeling lazy and knew that I'd end up with citrus-y juices everywhere. (In fact, the only reason that I made both recipes tonight is because I halved each - doing the extra chopping required for two full recipes felt like too much, even though I'm always happy to have extra leftovers.) However, I'm glad I didn't abandon making the salad, because it's outstanding. Go make some now. And the extra grapefruit on hand? Will become this.
If January is a month of housekeeping, then perhaps February is about small pleasures. Anticipating a trip to Cartems Donuterie. Talking a snowy walk in the woods around Brothers Creek. Planning a mini-break for when the rain stops. Right now I'm watching "Pimpernel Smith" with Leslie Howard, and watching Leslie Howard is always a pleasure. Of course we all know him as Ashley Wilkes, but he was just as good at comedy as he was at drama. I present the following Youtube evidence:
Exhibit A: The Scarlet Pimpernel
Exhibit B: Pygmalion
I tell you, I'm thisclose to falling into "they don't make them like they used to" fallacy. And that's even before we touch on Bette Davis. (By the way, "It's Love I'm After"? Dream cast of Leslie Howard, Bette Davis, and Olivia de Havilland.)
Since I haven't been cooking too much lately (latkes on Friday, rocky road on Saturday, and tomato-ginger chutney on Sunday), my list of recipes lined up to bat is growing. Over the next few days, I plan on spending some quality time with the Smitten Kitchen archives: right now I've got chocolate sorbet mixture chilling in the fridge (a full batch; I feel confident that it will be too good to halve), and tonight's dinner is roasted squash pizza. Later in the week I'll make avocado salad with carrot-ginger dressing, pasta with cauliflower & walnuts & feta, and citrus salad with feta and mint. So, clearly I have cooking on the brain. But you know what? What I actually want to share are some of my current library (VPL) picks:
I'm nearly done "At Home" and it's been a absorbing and entertaining read. The index lists everything from Dandies to Earth Closets, from Medieval Dining Habits to Elizabeth Gaskell, from Judicial Wigs to Servants, Scapegoating Of. It is, in essence, a long series of digressions. This is the first Bill Bryson book I've read, and now I'm looking forward to "A Walk in the Woods", mostly because I heard about the Appalachian Trail years ago and have been interested in hiking some or all of it ever since. (From what I understand, Bill Bryson did not enjoy his hike.)
I've just picked up a copy of The Tiger's Wife, entirely due to the rave review from Kate's mom at Christmas. Most newer fiction that I read comes from way of Kate, since I've always tended to stick to literature from about 1850 - 1950, mostly delving into modern books when they're non-fiction.
Some time ago I saw the movie; now I have a copy of the audiobook. It feels like spring is coming to Vancouver, and I haven't spent time this winter yet curling up with a Gothic novel, a pot of tea, and a knitting project while it's still dark and cold outside. We tossed out "Rebecca" as a bookclub suggestion some time back; I was reminded of it again recently while perusing a list of Best Gothic Books of All Time on goodreads (a very exciting list to stumble across, I might add. "Rebecca" is #4).
This book's description reads: "...obsession is not only a phemomenon of modern existence: it is a medical category - both a pathology and a goal. ... Beginning with the roots of the disease in demonic possession and its secular successors, Davis traces the evolution of obsessive behavior from a social and religious fact of life into a medical and psychiatric problem." Since I haven't started, it's yet to be determined where this book ranks on the dull to lively spectrum, but it looks like a promising glimpse into the things we try hard to control and the things that control us.
Back in the day, we used to have regular Sunday pub knitting at the Wolf and Hound. Many factors have since intervened so that pub knitting is almost non-existent now: busy schedules, family commitments, and friends moving away. When it does happen though, it's social time, knitting projects, pints and pub food, and cozy atmosphere all wrapped up together. In short, the perfect way to spend a drizzly February evening.
I haven't kept track of the number of baby bibs I've made over the last several years. My best guess would be about 200 (maybe more, maybe less). Each time I make them I start with enthusiasm, and each time I surprise myself all over again by taking longer to finish them than seems reasonable and necessary. Here are a few of the latest batch (done! at last!):
Pea pods - a perennial favourite.
A tomato with bad lighting. (The tomatoes always have a face; and only the tomatoes have a face.) This time I didn't finish the usual trio with a carrot bib, but made a sushi one instead:
This is a woodland bib; even the ties have birds and squirrels and mushrooms on them.
The final step - throw in some washcloths! My work is done.