Day 21: Another birthday

So today is my birthday. Shane, as always, orchestrated something amazing. The table was gorgeous, the food spectacular and perhaps most imporatantly, my living room is packing box-free!!!

My folks came over (ie: upstairs) for dinner. Shane chose and shopped for an Ina Garten potato leek soup which my mom prepared. The recipe’s got a lot of steps and you could tell because it was more delicious and complex tasting than an ordinary potato leek soup, even Rose at it and she’s not a soup gal.

The main course was something like penne alla vodka (but a little different) from one of our favorite Italian cookbooks, Trattoria Cooking, which I picked up at a yard sale in the 90s when I lived in Tucson, AZ. We still love it, so that’s something.

Salad was a last minute addition, to the tune of: “Nina, I didn’t think you’d want salad because there are already two courses” “Shane, I always want salad.”

For a change of pace, I requested a flourless chocolate torte for dessert, and that’s what I got along with a hefty dose of drama from my kids. Turns out, kids these days have no idea how to use matches. Rose almost “burned her entire arm off” and Sid ran around frantically screaming “pause, pause, pause!” when he realized she was lighting matches and he didn’t have his guitar to accompany the happy birthday song.

Shane, who was a seasoned smoker by the time he was Rose’s age was appalled by our kids’ complete lack of match-lighting skills and gave them a quick how-to. When Rose complained about the risk being posed to her life, he persisted with “just keep going, light the candle, light the damn candle!”

Our cat just jumped out of the 3rd floor window as I was writing this. He’s fine, but there’s some real chaos surrounding the birthdays in our family this season. The cake was delicious, I’ll leave it at that.

xoxo

 

30 days of posting challenge: day 20

Tomorrow is my birthday. This year instead of a physical gift, I asked Shane if we could spend an entire day unpacking and getting settled in our new/old house which we moved into in June. The gift—in addition to the manual labor and time—was that I got to set the priorities, since Shane and I don’t always see eye to eye on what those are.

What we do see eye to eye on, is that we’re tired of living in a semi-unpacked state after moving around and being unsettled for more than 3 years. My parents took the kids for the day which is really the only way to get anything done. And we tackled my list, which was as follows:

  1. Build shelved in Sid’s closet
  2. Hang art
  3. Finish unpacking office
  4. Extra credit: zero boxes

We got all of #3 and part of #2 done, and then we went out to the Superlux. The Superlux is the movie theatre that’s kind of like flying first class, and is also probably the closest we’ll ever come to flying first class. For dinner we had popcorn, a cocktail each, fries and chips with guacamole. Oh, and Blade Runner 2.

Day 19: Melissa Clark

My dad cooked tonight (I know, the men around here) When we complimented him on dinner he said “Don’t thank me, thank Melissa Clark, she’s my girl.”

My dad has cooked from the New York Times, pretty much exclusively for a very long time. Like since they started delivering the Times in Boston. Before that he only cooked Marcella Hazan. For a while he was into Bittman, now he’s a Clark guy.

He makes this eggplant dish (Melissa’s) that he calls 100% vegetarian, even though it’s got anchovies in it. We don’t complain, it’s really good. Eggplant, onion, anchovies, ricotta, provolone, parmesan, breadcrumbs. All baked up into a nice melty, cheesy, flavorful dish.

You can find the recipe here, thanks to my dad for introducing it to us. But as he’d say: you can thank Melissa Clark.

As always, a delicious salad by my mom (slivered parsnips and pistachios!)

Happy weekend. xoxo

30 days of posting challenge: day 18

Shane did the cooking again tonight. He’s making me look like kind of a slacker, but I can’t complain.

For what it’s worth, I had a kind of crazy day. Worked from home till 1:00. Attended my final Build Yourself Accelerator online workshop (boo hoo!). Went to the doctor for my Botox for injections…

That’s right, Botox.

I get Botox injections for migraines, not because I’ve got a wrinkly forehead. I’ve been getting them for about a year now and for the first 6 months or so, the jury was out as to whether it was working. But over time, my migraines have gone from about 16-20 days per month, to 3-6 days per month. And they’re milder too. I call that progress. (Ironically my forehead was never that wrinkled to begin with.)

I wanted put that out there for any of you fellow sufferers, in case you didn’t already know. Botox for migraine costs a bloody fortune, it’s a LOT of injections, it’s often painful (but not like giving birth or anything), and it’s really scary when you read that disclaimer they make you sign the first time. But after you get over those hurdles, it’s awful nice to not be in pain all the damn time.

After the injections, I went in to the office (an hour away) for a meeting, then booked it back home (another hour) only to hop in the car immediately to go get Rose at the gym (25 minutes away). We were home by 7:30. Ok, maybe not so much of a slacker.

Dinner was the pork Shane cooked during dinner last night, a gorgeous salad topped with lightly sautéed red peppers and crushed wasabi peas, and ravioli with sage butter. Rose took the photo. Go team.

30 days of posting challenge: day 17

We had leftover baked ziti, tonight. Shane for some reason was making giant pork chops while we ate. I think they were for tomorrow, or maybe they were for an after-dinner snack. One thing’s for sure, that man is a cooking fool these days.

As much as I love his domesticity, we can’t really afford to have him in the kitchen full-time. Anyone want to buy some art? Seriously, I can get you a good deal.

Since I don’t have a new meal to share with you, here’s recipe for last night’s baked ziti (pic here).

• Baked Ziti •
from Cook’s Illustrated Best Italian Classics
serves 4-6 (8 if you’ve got kids who don’t eat a lot)

2 cloves garlic, minced
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 (28 oz) can crushed tomatoes
2 tablespoons coarsely chopped fresh basil leaves
salt
1lb ziti or penne
1 ball fresh mozzarella, sliced (recipe calls for 8oz regular mozzarella shredded – but we use fresh)
1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese

Heat oven to 400 degrees. Heat 2 tablespoons olive oil and garlic in a medium sauté pan until fragrant but not brown, about 2 minutes. Stir in the tomatoes and simmer about 10 minutes. Stir in basil and salt to taste.

Meanwhile, bring a big pot of salted water to boil (however much you usually use for boiling a pound of pasta). Cook until al dente but still a bit firm. Reserve 1/4 cup of cooking water, drain the pasta and return it to the pot with the reserved water. Stir in the tomato sauce.

Coat a 9×13″ pan with the remaining tablespoon of olive oil. Pour half of the pasta into the dish and top with half of the mozzarella and half of the parmesan cheese. Pour the remaining pasta into the dish and top with the remaining cheese.

Bake until the cheeses are runny and melted, about 20 minutes. Remove dish from oven and let rest 5 minutes before serving.

30 days of posting challenge: day 16

We got home super-late (for parents and kids) tonight. Shane had a baked ziti all ready to go in the oven, and prepared a lovely salad while it cooked. I guess men can multitask after all.

The ziti was from Cooks Illustrated Italian Classics which Rose got him for Father’s Day at a yard sale one year when we were particularly tight on funds, which makes it feel special. Plus the great recipes.

That’s all I’ve got tonight. Sleep well.

Day 15: 10th birthday latergram

We celebrated Rose’s 10th birthday last night. 10 is kind of a big deal, both for us emotionally, and for her milestone-ally. We wanted it to be really special.

After a weekend in New York visiting friends Rose wanted to celebrate with family at home. She asked for Shane’s ribs and he basically took it from there, with a few gentle reminders from me about how people might want some vegetables.

Shane’s now makes ribs with ease in his Smokey Mountain Smoker. This is a relief, because there was a time when he would labor for days over only to declare them unfit for dinner because the meat didn’t fall off the bone in quite the right way. He spent a good part of the past week preparing and smoking the ribs and making Boston Baked Beans from scratch along with a couple of homemade sauces. His new go-to site is Amazing Ribs (dot com).

Family pulled us through the rest. My sister made two batches of cornbread (one “chunky” and one plain) with fancy herbed butter. My mom made a batch of our family favorite Blair Slaw (recipe below). Ronni brought one of her amazing salads. And JP Licks took care of the cake for us (chocolate Oreo & mint chip ice cream with Oreo garnishes).

Aside from arriving late because of the car accident, things were pretty easy. My mom decorated while we were away—thank goodness I saved the hand-cut hand-glittered birthday decorations from when she was five— and had the periwinkle and/or cornflower balloons and roses delivered (by my dad).

It was a truly lovely night and seeing our amazing girl so happy and gracious kind of made up for the heartbreak of her hitting the double-digits.

• Blair Slaw •
from our friend Blair’s mom

3 cups shredded cabbage
2 cups thawed frozen peas
3 cups chopped scallions
3/4 cups toasted chopped almonds (or pecans, or both)

Dressing:
1 cup sour cream
1 cup mayonnaise
2 teaspoons curry powder (toasted in pan until golden-er)
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
1 teaspoon sugar

Put chopped cabbage, peas, and scallions in a large bowl. Chop nuts and toast gently in the oven or a pan until just golden – watch to make sure they don’t burn. Set nuts aside.

Mix dressing ingredients to combine and add to salad bowl with cabbage mixture and nuts. Toss dressing, cabbage mixture and nuts until evenly coated. Serve cool/cold.

 

30 days of posting challenge: day 14

I want to tell you all about the meal we had for Rose’s 10th birthday tonight. I really do. But after being at the front of a 3 car accident and arriving home 1/2 an hour after the party was supposed to start, we’re plum worn out.

Tune in tomorrow to hear about the meal Shane spent all week preparing, and more. Love to all the family who cooked, set up, and came out on a school night. I’m off to ice my neck.

xoxo

30 days of posting challenge: day 12

Tonight I’m posting from my old stomping grounds, Jackson Heights, New York. It still feels like home, even though I really don’t miss the traffic and the parking.

We had a great time catching up with family over dinner and an utterly delicious mushroom and walnut soup made with mushrooms from our local csa. 

One of the things I miss most about living here is my csa share, in particular the sense of community it created. 

Aaaaand that’s my cue to sign off (before sentimentality takes over completely). Also, I’m posting from my phone and have no idea if it will work.