Dispatch from the basement

  you may have noticed that I haven’t posted from home since we moved into our tiny, dark (and thankfully temporary) basement apartment. Why? Because it’s just not that nice.

What IS nice is our patio. Somehow we never manage to eat out there, maybe from lack of chairs, or maybe because of the mosquitos. Or maybe because dinner is chaotic enough without a change of venue.

I realized this week that there’s no reason I can’t just take my plate out to the patio and take a picture of it. So that’s what I did. 

Pictured at top is an ad-hoc tomato, basil & white bean salad with lemon juice and coarsley grated Parmesan cheese.

Below is our favorite pinch-hit dinner (besides penne alla vodka) pasta with arugula, pepper and pecorino cheese

 Happy Friday!

Many hapi returns

Lemon cakeThis was a special (hapi*) weekend. We had two wedding anniversaries and two birthdays to mark. We celebrated with a big dinner on the lawn by the beach, with lots of food and a real chill atmosphere. And cake, natch.

*There were no ordinary birthday candles, nor were we able to find the right letters to spell “happy” “birthday” “anniversary” or any of the initials of the folks being fetted.

We started the evening with local steamers dug by someone in our group, probably Drew. The young Patriots fans were particularly smitten with the clams.Young Pats fans love steamersThese beautiful paper straws looked so nice with the vegetarian appetizers. Olives and pretty strawsDinner was served buffet-style on a favorite old picnic table, which my mom and I insist on keeping even though it’s literally biodegrading before our eyes.Dinner on a licheny tableWhile one of my kids was napping and the other was out fishing, I revisited an old favorite cake recipe from the Silver Palate Cookbook. I chose glazed lemon cake, because I was not in the mood for chocolate mayonnaise cake and I wanted to use an analog recipe for a change. Lemon cake

• Glazed Lemon Cake •
From the Silver Palate Cookbook

Ingredients
½ pound ( 2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
2 cups granulated sugar
3 eggs
3 cups unbleached all-purpose flour, sifted
½ teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon salt
1 cup buttermilk (it’s ok to use regular milk mixed with 1 teaspoon white vinegar or lemon juice)
2 tightly packed tablespoons grated lemon zest
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
Lemon Icing (Recipe follows)

Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Grease a 10-inch tube pan.

Cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in eggs, one at a time, blending well after each addition.

Sift together flour, baking soda and salt. Stir dry ingredients into egg mixture alternately with buttermilk, beginning and ending with dry ingredients. Add lemon zest and juice and stir to combine.

Pour batter into prepared tube pan. Set on the middle rack of the oven and bake for 1 hour and 5 minutes, or until cake pulls away from the sides of the pan and a tester inserted in the center comes out clean.

Cool cake in the pan, set on a rack, for 10 minutes. Remove the cake from the pan and spread icing at once, while cake is still hot.

Lemon Icing
1 pound confectioners’ sugar, sifted
8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened
3 tightly packed tablespoons grated lemon zest
½ cup fresh lemon juice

Cream sugar and butter together thoroughly. Mix in lemon zest and juice; spread on warm cake.

Sauerkraut to the rescue!

Preparing sauerkraut

You may or may not know this, but I’m no spring chicken. I’m lucky that mostly I feel pretty good in my forties, and that I don’t have grey hair yet. But in the past 8 or so years, I’ve noticed that my stomach really isn’t what it used to be.

I once boasted an iron stomach. Stomach viruses were foreign to me, I could eat week-old food I found in the bottom of my purse and be perfectly fine. But now I get stomach viruses several times a year, and it’s awful. Aw-ful.

So what’s an old-ish person to do? Should I give up gluten, or dairy, or sugar? Break up with coffee, wine and bread? Maybe I should quit my job and join a special milkshake pyramid scheme?

Hah! You know that’s not my style.  Instead, I’m making sauerkraut.

Fermented raw sauerkraut is apparently one of the best sources of edible probiotics there is. It’s cheap and easy to make, it tastes like pickles. It will appeal to your inner science nerd, and it doesn’t require giving up any of the foods that make life worth living, or quitting your job.

I can’t tell you if it works yet because my first batch just ripened a couple of days ago. Let’s just say I’m very optimistic.

I used a recipe from the Kitchn for my first bach.Ripening sauerkraut

 

Cape meals: the one that fell apart

On the 4th of July, we thought it might be nice to have a sit-down dinner, it being a holiday and all.

The day started out well, we planned the meal—a variation on the traditional salmon & peas—we swam, we played, we ate Caprese salad in the Ultra Lounge. Then we sat down to dinner and things fell apart.

It started when we put the little guys at their own table because the big table was all full up (and then some). The pre-schoolers never want to sit and eat anyhow, we figured they could graze and play while we enjoyed a meal.

The little guys did not like it. They did not like it at all. The called the United Nations for Toddlers and all hell broke lose.

I honestly don’t know what happened after that. I just know that we vowed not to have a sit-down dinner with kids for at least another 4 years.

Happy 4th of July!

 

Cape meals: cookout

I’m going to get through my vacation posts one way or another. At this rate, you might be reading about early July in the middle of December. Which could be nice, or depressing.

On our second day of vacation we had cookout stuff (burgers, bacon-wrapped dogs etc.) served buffet style. We ate on the porch so we could watch the kids while they played instead of eating—because that’s their MO—and make sure that when they jumped off the dock it was the acceptable kind of jumping off the dock.

For the non-meat eaters—eater, actually—there were two salads, chips and sautéed shitakes. Or maybe the shitakes were for the burgers.

Can you spot the very special guest?

We heart summer. xo

Cape meals: fish & fish edition

4 days into the work week, our time off feels like forever ago already. Pictured here is our first day of vacation and I’m already feeling sentimental. It was a potluck on the beach with paper(!) plates and no formal seating. Perfect for unruly toddlers (one in particular) and a huge group.

Lots of seafood had been caught that day. Raw clams, the freshest of fresh sushi, and homemade ceviche, with cocktails and a dusk beach fire, perfect. I even tried a piece of sushi, figuring it had probably had better life than what you get at the store or restaurant.

For dinner was fish &chips, and lots of veggies. Drew was brilliant enough to bring the Fry Daddy outside so he could enjoy the evening and not stink up the house while he breaded and fried his day’s catch. Big platters of veggies, crinkle fries and salads arrived from who knows where and we all sat on the porch and beach to eat while the sun set.

My mom has historically not been supportive of paper plate use. I can live with tossing the occasional paper plate when the alternative is washing up after a crowd of 20 or so. My mom is also not a fan of un-concealed trash cans, thus the note on ours.

More soon! xoxo

Vacation teaser 

  We’ve been on vacation lately. I’ve been doing a great job of documenting dinner, but falling short when it comes to posting. 

We’re going to eat late tonight, so I fed the little guys an early dinner on the beach. The pork chops were a fail, the salted cucumber slices received a fair reception, and the pasta with butter was a hit. 

Now I’m sipping wine on the beach. The 3.5 year old is trying to teach the 2.5 year old to pee in the marsh, the men just sailed in, and the big girls are heading out for a paddle in the kayak. 

Summer evenings are my favorite.

Pizza on the Cape

We had such a tiny group at the Cape this weekend that Shane was able to do his pizza thang. He made dough in the morning, took a nap with the babe, and then started pumping out the pies around 6:00.

My mom, always the trooper, contributed two big salads which she made while tottering around on her walker with her busted up leg. I’m not sure if “pumping out pies” or “tottering around” are real expressions, but you get what I mean.

We all crammed into the smallest room in the house, because it was all candlelit and cozy—thanks Shane—and made the chit chat while we waited for each pie to come out.

The first was a simple cheese, for the kids. We had 4 kids around this weekend, 3 of which technically eat food. One kid refused to take out his pacifier or get off the couch, and another decided he’d prefer an egg. This worked out as it left us with one pizza-eating kid and plenty of cheese pizza to get the adults started.

The next pie was a non-dairy for Jenya. Shane and I thought about this in advance and remembered that delicious potato and rosemary pie from Sullivan Street Bakery. It wasn’t the same as Sullivan’s but it was really good.

Things were kind of a blur for me after that. Sid eventually did get off the couch and dragged a stool and his guitar to the middle of the smallest room in the house, where we all were. He sang Happy Birthday at the top of his lungs repeatedly, making it difficult for us to concentrate on pizza, or have a conversation.

The pies started winding down around 10pm. At that stage the kids may or may not have been in bed, but things had quieted down enough for me to register a white pizza with arugula, ricotta & lemon, and a salami, basil and garlic cheese-less pie.

The next day, I managed to catch a glimpse of Shane’s dough recipe which I’m sharing with you here. Your guess on the instructions is as good as mine.

xoxo

Summer

It’s Cape time again. Cape time! Usually we get here earlier in the season, but it’s kind of nice to start when it actually feels like summer.

We’re attempting once again to simplify dinners. Less food, fewer dishes, less waste, less cleanup, less work… more relaxing! I’m pretty sure I said the same thing at the beginning of last summer, so we’ll see how it goes, but so far so good.

Friday’s dinner (not pictured) was grilled chicken—which Rose claimed was as good as the chicken they serve at school—with potatoes and super-fat, ultra-tasty asparagus grown by the Drews.

On Saturday we ate from the sea. Drew cooked up some black sea bass and stripers that he’d caught, which we had with rice and an assortment of vegetables.

Sunday was the picture of “New Cape Simple.” Fresh-dug clams, which my mom—somehow on her walker—turned into spaghetti alla vongole. For the non-clam eaters, a double-batch of Marcella’s famous sauce, which disappeared even more quickly than the clams. And a very simple salad with avocado, tomato, lime and spinach.

There was nearly a crisis when we thought we might run out of salad, but we didn’t. Clean-up was minimal, we didn’t even fill the dishwasher. And there were practically no leftovers!

Something else we learned late last summer, and are trying to carry through to this year, is that sometimes a sit-down dinner is not the best thing when you’ve got a lot of kids around. On Saturday, we put the two toddlers at the coffee table with dinner and some toys while the rest of us ate at the big table. I think they ate more than if they’d been sitting at the table with us.

On Sunday we had upwards of 20 people, so we served dinner buffet-style and folks just got a plate and ate wherever. It was so much easier, no counting of place settings and somehow still ending up with not enough seats, no herding of young boys who really don’t want to sit down anyhow, no need for multiple serving dishes, no extra tables and chairs. More relaxing!

Wishing everyone a very happy, and very relaxing summer.

xoxo

Another last supper

Tonight is our last night in our new, old, new, temporary, one-day-forever home. We’re moving tomorrow. It’s also our anniversary.

There’s nothing like packing all day on your anniversary, while you have the horrible virus from hell, and a 2 year old who also has the horrible virus from hell, and who falls apart (with real tears) every time he sees you putting something in a box.

But, we made it through and my folks sent over a nice sushi dinner and a bottle of bubbly to celebrate.

We ate dinner on the living room-slash-bedroom floor, with our hands and a couple of pieces of newsprint as a picnic blanket. We drank champagne out of jars. The kids gave us a 5 minute head start. “Go ahead and start without us, we’ll be in the bathroom for a while” said Rose. It was super romantic.

We’re moving into a teeny, dark, basement apartment for 6 or 9 or maybe-but-hopefully-not 12 months, while we turn my parents house into a totally awesome, for-reals, two-family home. I’m a lot worried about the lack of natural light, but ultimately it’s going to be amazing.

The movers arrive in 9 hours. Eyes on the prize. Good night!