verbicide: (Default)
It started in the kitchen, and that's usually a good thing. Sarah stopped by in the early afternoon with a random awesome present (!). She saw this gorgeous photograph of a kitchen in Avignon, France, and decided to get it for me. The photographer is someone whose work Sarah (and I) love at a local shop in Ballard. We visited for awhile, I forced her to try random food bits, and then it was back to the kitchen for me and she left for home.

Jeff and I were lucky enough to have [livejournal.com profile] serenity_valley and [livejournal.com profile] str8ontilmornin come to visit us for dinner. While I didn't post about it (because I wanted to surprise them) there were months of Fantasy Menu Planning and obsessing. Because they are both such lovely foodies and because [livejournal.com profile] str8ontilmornin is a chef (and instructor at a culinary institute), I really wanted to do something special for them.

There were no full blown panic attacks, but I was a little, um, focused at points and I almost threw out the amuse 30 minutes before they were due to arrive because I wasn't sure it was going to work (Jeff convinced me to keep it). It was the only dish that I felt slightly obsessed about creating instead of stealing from a cookbook. The salad was also my own creation, but loosely based on this terrific salad Jeff once had at Crave. There was a second dessert course that flopped, so I eliminated it. And Jeff also obviously knows me a little too well, because when I'm preparing for a party, I tend to forget to eat all day. So when he went out to pick up a few things for me, he brought us back some lunch because he didn't want me to pass out before they arrived. I thought that was very sweet.

I was feeling extra bashful and because [livejournal.com profile] serenity_valley and [livejournal.com profile] str8ontilmornin are such dear people who instantly make you comfortable, I forget that we've only had the chance to hang out a couple of times and that I am basically intensely shy. But the minute they walked through the door, I remembered why I like them so damn much. They are just wonderfulness personified. They came bearing gifts--three amazing loaves of homemade bread as well as a beautiful jar of finishing salt from The Meadow.

Le Menu et autre )
verbicide: (Default)
Except... there's no snow. YET.

There's supposed to be a lot of it. All the Seattle schools are closed! Which means it would be highly irresponsible for me to go to work and get stuck on the Eastside! YUP!

I have to say, my gloves are wholly inadequate. As a Californian, I always thought polar fleece would be good enough for anything. But the bus was late yesterday, so I was standing outside at the stop for about half an hour and by the end, I thought I might dissolve into hysteria. I couldn't feel my hands anymore. I was kitted out in two warm wool sweaters, a quilted jacket, scarf, hat, gloves. But I was so goddamn cold. The exposed parts of my face (which was a pretty narrow strip) and my hands. I tell you, I'm the biggest weather sissy on earth. I would DIE in a real winter. As it is, I just hunker down and try to never leave my house ever.

Speaking of. It's been such a nice goddamn day so far! Jeff and I sat and lingered on the couch this morning. I kept trying to convince him to stay home or to just go get his laptop and come back home. But he's not built for sloth the way I am. Poor dearie.

Last night was a total blast. Pete came over for a final visit before his two week vacation to visit his family in NJ. I made one of Pete's (and Jeff's) favorite dishes --Ina Garten's Mac and Cheese and some sauteed zucchini to go with it. Recipe Blather ) I sent some off with Jeff today for Amy T and Kirsten, too!

Then, Jeff lit a fire and turned on the Christmas tree and it was just a lovely lovely evening, sitting around and talking.

Pete brought us his amazing homemade chocolate caramels. And I got one of my Christmas presents from him! He knows I'm crazy about these Japanese gummy snacks and there are all these flavors that are hard to get and I've never been able to try. So he went to Ranch 99 and bought me ALL of them. Mango, apple, pineapple, melon, and orange because it's my favorite. I couldn't stop squealing for awhile over that. We sampled them all and omg it was so exciting!! I think pineapple may be my new favorite!! Also, he brought over his Wii Fit for us to borrow while he's out of town! Can't wait to try it!

Pete eventually left and we went to bed. I did, however, leave an epic mess in the kitchen. But it was so glorious to get to just clean it up this morning. Everything's loaded in the dishwasher. I went to the grocery store after work last night, so I have everything I need to make all the stuff I need to make. (Except frozen raspberries, goddammit! Must go buy those and some more eggs. DOH. I should go do that this morning before the predicted weather craziness starts.)

Today I'll work from home and start the cookie baking adventure. I have tons of exciting food options in leftovers. Is a taco salad weird to have for breakfast?

In other Christmas news, I just feel so behind already. How did this happen?

I need to write/mail some cards today. And at least plan how/when I'm going to mail the few gifts that require mailing. The timing is all off, because I leave for LA for a week on Tuesday. I see Judy/Ellen on Saturday and I'm worried their gift won't be ready by then either.

But, I need to remind myself that any pressure here is my own. I may be late this year, but no one is going to really care if they don't get their cookies until I get back from LA and can have more time to bake, right?

Though, I'm almost totally done with my Christmas shopping. And the rest should be finished in one more quick trip to U Village! In exciting news, I was able to get Jeff's Christmas present done yesterday on my lunch break. The smaller gift is en route from Amazon and the bigger one (which is sort of a Christmas/birthday hybrid gift, since his birthday is in January), is hiding in my car. I'd like to wrap them and stick 'em under the tree by tonight! I hope he likes!!

Sarah and I are exchanging gifts/having dinner on Friday, before she leaves town. I've asked for her big gift to be expedited; I just hope it gets here on time!!

Whee!! This is why I love the holidays!!

denouement

Dec. 30th, 2006 11:57 pm
verbicide: (me and hobbsie)
I need a cooking icon.

Things I've learned tonight:

1. Roast duck, even when it turns out good, is probably not worth the effort and expense. That said, I'm glad I finally tried it.
2. I need to improve my caramel making skills and not be so afraid of turning up the heat on the stove.

The sour cream pastry dough was good, but as some of the reviewers in the recipe had noted, the cooking time leaves the apples a bit too soft. I think I want to try this again with some variation, because the flavors were good, it was just a matter of consistency.

The duck was crispy on the outside, juicy on the inside, but my god --so much smoke. And I don't have the room to keep 6 quarts of duck-fattened stock for the next time I want to roast a duck, so it's going to have to go to tragic waste. Next time I want duck, I'm just going to have to head over to Wild Ginger.

But both my brother and SIL were very gracious and good sports about letting me test my experimental cooking out on them. Next time: gyros with homemade flat bread and yogurt gelato!

In other awesome news, my brother and SIL got me a gorgeous Shun knife and sharpening steel. It's so utterly shiny. And, um. Sharp. Who knew you didn't need to put your back into slicing garlic. I've had crappy knives for a very, very long time. My brother, who clearly has his Y chromosome intact, earnestly told me that, "It's the same steel they use to make samurai swords!" (I think it's the same steel. Or method. Something.)

It was a really nice night hanging out with them. And nicer to know that they didn't have an hour drive/ferry to get back home. I think I've seen these guys more this month than I did for the past 3 years of living out here. (Or is it four now?)
verbicide: (Default)
Sarah came over for a day of baking fun. We made our way through half a dozen recipes. I didn't make as many this year, and except for family, really won't be able to mail 'em out, because there just isn't enough time, but it was fun. I had run out in the morning for ingredients and also very cute, cheap cookie tins at JoAnns.

I tried all new recipes this year, and it went pretty damn well. We made cranberry shortbread, caramel cashew nut, double chocolate chunk, chocolate crackles, chocolate-malt sandwiches, and pumpkin spice with brown butter icing. The final recipe, raspberry cream sandwiches, didn't get made because I forgot the damn raspberries and white chocolate. I'm going to pick that up on my way home tomorrow and hopefully finish the last batch.

Sarah left around 8:30, and I just finished baking the last batch. The dishwasher's loaded and mostly things are clean.

OMG --in super exciting news, we also exchanged presents early on account of... well, we just couldn't wait, dammit! She got me a much-needed, very cool, retro ice cream scooper and a glorious, glorious 10-inch All-clad saucier. I think I can officially die happy now. I can't freaking wait to saute something!

I can't believe there is work tomorrow. Four more days before vacation and my brain is no longer capable of focusing (except, apparently, on cookie-making).

I'm meeting Judy and Ellie out for dinner tomorrow and I have to get their cookie boxes assembled, their presents wrapped, and also Rob/Kelly's cookie box assembled and their gifts wrapped because Judy is going to go see them on Tuesday and this saves me a trip up to Everett. I don't think the raspberry cream cookies are going to make it into their boxes, unfortunately.

Oh oh, also watched Survivor tonight and damn near cried with happiness --but that's another post for another day when I'm actually conscious.
verbicide: (bossa nova - by breezybee)
And the best is yet to come!

Highlights! (please step carefully to avoid being impaled by the !!!s)

- woke up to awesome e-cards!!
- first phone call of the day: Sarah!!
- presents and cards! waiting in my office!!
- Jeff (who rules every day but twice as much on my bday)!!
- slew of phone calls from loved ones!!
- slew of e-mails and LJ-posts of bday wishes!!
- lunch at one of my favorite restaurants (Sofrito Rico in Ballard)!!
- post-lunch surprise-thingie from office mates with flowers and card and cake!!
- the insanely amazing cake Pete picked up from Simply Desserts (half chocolate, half white chocolate with strawberries)!!

I know Seattle is casual, but I wanted us to dress up a little bit for tonight. And Jeff cleans up awful pretty. He even wore the dark red pullover I got him last year because he knew it would make me shriek with delight. And his card is awesome --a rare shot of Buffy and Brutus rubbing noses in friendship (vs the standard of Buffy slapping Brutus around and Brutus looking confused). Jeff got me the Why Paint Cats book which I have not been able to stop gazing at, except for briefly when I stopped to gaze at the phenomenal All-Clad stockpot he got me. (Oh the soups I will make, and now easily puree with Amy's immersion blender). I've wanted this stuff for so goddamn long, it's almost inconceivable that they are mine mine mine! (I will be using the immersion blender this weekend for sure!)

I think my friends know I like to cook.

I'm really excited about dinner. I can't wait to try the French champagne I brought back and I hear Marjorie's wine selection is excellent (and the new Beaujolais came out today, apparently!). (Note to self: must lock down any drunk-posts later on.)

Of course it's impossible to even think about doing work now. C'est impossible!!

I have the energy and attention span of a toddler. And what's nice is --it's helping me not feel quite so old. (In spite of Jeff's opening comment this morning: Happy Birthday! You're half-way to 70!)
verbicide: (Default)
Hee. My SIL is very cute. She wrote me three e-mails last night. A progression of Happy Birthday!!; Wait--am I early?; D'oh! I'm early, but I'm getting you the Kitchen-Aid ice cream maker attachment, so don't buy it!

I am now very, very excited. First step will be making that yogurt gelato.

Also, I made my first loaf of bread with my new cookbook --it's a banana sandwich loaf, perfect for a PB&J sandwich. It really came out excellent. Pete and I found the vital wheat gluten at PCC, but it was the same thing that was available at Ballard Market. They label it as flour, though it appears to be straight vital wheat gluten. Weird. But that means that this weekend I can try my hand at making a baguette! I'm a little annoyed with myself. I bought all these groceries and swore I'd take lunch to work every day, but every day this week has something going on:

Monday: lunch with Judy; Tuesday: Work Potluck; Wednesday: work is taking me out for a birthday lunch; Thursday: Jeff/Pete will be taking me out to lunch. Perhaps on Friday I can take in a sandwich. I'm going to have to give away the lovely deli meats I bought from Ballard Market on Sunday, because I don't want them to spoil! Should have remembered that so much was going on this week before spending $50000 at the store. What a weird thing to complain about. Anyhow.

After some consideration, Jeff and I are going to Marjorie's in Belltown for my birthday. I looked through all the Tom Douglas menus online, and while they all offered a vegetarian entree, they didn't have a dazzling array of them and dammit, I want Jeff to have choices. He really loved Marjorie's and we've been planning to go there for ages, so it worked out nicely!

As a pre-birthday treat--I made an appt at Habitude to get everything waxed. It's all going. I don't care if it's winter and unnecessary, I'm tired of feeling like Chewbacca. I'm skipping out in the middle of the day for an hour to be brutalized by Sonia and then limping back, smooth and hairless, to work. Today is also our work's holiday party, so I've been up making the salad with balsamic onions for my contribution. It's divided up by floors, and our floor got salads this year. It's a mixed blessing. I try to make interesting salads (largely inspired by Jeff's fervent adoration of a really good salad) but they're not something I particularly care to make. But since our floor doesn't have appetizers or desserts, Jeff and I have made a pact to avoid those floors altogether and I'm bringing us each a no-pudge brownie so we can still have something sweet. After the Halloween party feeding frenzy, we've decided that see no evil, eat no evil is the best tact for us.

In other news, I tried talking to this other person via Skype. I was apprehensive because he's in Montreal and the French accent is substantially different, and (Amy: my apologies to Martin) but I prefer Parisian French. I find Canadian French to be harsher and more guttural. But the person seemed nice and we'd agreed to speak at 6PM my time, 9PM theirs. The time difference was one bonus, because the 9-hours difference to France makes it much harder to practice during the week.

I busted out of work early because I didn't want any bus debacles making me late, and I made it on time. The first surprise was that Maxime wasn't a woman, though I don't know why I thought he'd be --his profile lists him as a 24 year old male. I must have gotten him confused with another profile. Secondly, he started by telling me I was late, which I wasn't. Turned out he hadn't read the e-mail properly, because he thought it was 6PM for him. And we really had nothing to talk about. He was definitely a young club-loving guy.

He had that odd, attempting-to-be-flirtatious thing going on which confused me. I Kevorkian'd the call about 30 minutes in. Just didn't seem to be any point in wasting our time. Boys are silly. Also, it made me appreciate Didier so much more.

And i forgot to post this yesterday. D'oh!

gloves!!

Mar. 10th, 2006 10:04 pm
verbicide: (happy)
So Jeanne made Judy these amazing fingerless gloves, that have a on/off mitten part that you can button to the back of your hand. Somewhat greedily, when I saw them, I shrieked to Jeanne that I wanted some. And because she's wonderful, she made me a pair. But then I decided, I would never use the mitten part, so she gave them to me as fingerless gloves.

I got them tonight! I love them!!



My hands will be cold no longer!

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