Thursday, February 2, 2012

(Jenn's favorite salad.)

Well hello there! Hope you had a nice holiday and happy 2012 and year of the dragon to you! Thanks for stopping by.

It's been a little busy chez c+potion. My poor little blog has been completely neglected. But I keep thinking about it meaning to update. Right now I'm literally trapped under a 16lb baby - he just doesn't seem to nap very well unless I hold him - trying to type without waking him. So updates have been a touch difficult to keep up with. I'm still cooking (there were a few awesome meals I mean to share here that I never got around to), not knitting as much sadly, mostly just enjoying the day to day of motherhood to two - which while fascinating for me doesn't make for good blogging material.

I did get around to spiffing up the blog banner since that last one was so old. And I'm on pinterest more regularly than I am here. I think I might have mentioned that before, but I'll put it out there again. So check me out over there.

And here's a recipe for jenn's favorite salad. Incidentally: I really feel like I've posted this already but my blogger account tells me that's not so. If I'm mistaken and I have indeed posted about this salad previously, my apologies.

I think the salad was introduced to us by our dear friend Nathan. And we were so in love with it that we made it all the time and then jenn had the caterers make it for her wedding. So I think of it as jenn's salad. She loves that it's easy and tasty and you can substitute the cheeses, add dressing or not (I might be mis-quoting you there, jenn). It's the wonder-salad of salads!

Jenn's Favorite Salad
romaine lettuce washed dried and torn into salad size pieces
toasted walnut pieces
dried cranberries
blood oranges peeled and sectioned and pieced into large-ish chunks
goat cheese (I think you can go with feta instead)
balsamic vinaigrette dressing (or the dressing of your choice)

Arrange all the ingredients on a plate and serve. You can add as much or as little of each ingredients to suit your tastes. Enjoy!

Monday, November 21, 2011

 M's been doing a lot of cooking lately. Yes, I am a lucky girl!

Last week he made this pot roast (pictured above) - to make, it was so simple and basic but it tasted as though it required some fancy skills and ingredients. He got the recipe here. The only change he made was to use beer instead of red wine. Divine, I tell you!

I plated it on a bed of polenta and threw a sprig of thyme over it to make it all fancy like the restaurants do. He insisted that I photograph it. Which means he wanted me to blog it.

In other news: jr. is here! Labor was quick (2 hours of contractions and 15 minutes of pushing) though of course it felt like it took much longer to me. The doctor and nurse were duly impressed. Of course they should be. A very handsome fellow entered this world in all his 10lb and 6.8oz of glory. Anyone would have been impressed at the sight of him. We are all doing great.

Saturday, November 5, 2011

While waiting for a baby to be born (mine), it appears that I need to start new craft projects*. Leftie is always asking to use my oven mitts when she cooks in her kitchen. So I thought it was high time she got a pair of her own.

I'm sort of feeling badly for her that her mommy is a bit out of commission and can't really play or take her to the park. These are sort of guilt-mitts, I guess. I wanted them to be quick and dirty. They fulfill the latter but not the first (I was hoping to avoid using my seam ripper). The sewing is really quite awful. I figured a 20 month old wasn't going to be discerning. And even embarrassingly sewn oven mitts are pretty freaking adorable when they are as diminutive as these.

Leftie couldn't have been more pleased. I slept in this morning, but m reported that she made a bee-line for them when she woke up. Also she's been toting them around in her little bag along with her other precious cargo (sunglasses, necklace, a plastic bag stuffed with diaper covers - don't ask, I have no idea). Always a sign of approval.

*I'm finishing off a pair of secret mittens and have a few zipper pouches that I'd like to crank out for leftie before I'm off to deliver the new baby. Also last night, while waiting to see if the contractions I was experiencing were the real or practice ones, I thought it might be a good idea to start yet another set of secret mittens and mentally planned out how they would be knit up. It's a sickness, I tell you.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

I wish I had trusted my instincts and chosen the other light setting for this photo. Anyways...

I have been on a dutch baby kick since reading this post by Amy. Wow. I haven't looked at hers since that post first came out and now I have dutch baby envy. Hers looks so awesome! But I enjoyed mine all the same.

I pretty much followed her recipe/directions but enjoyed mine with maple syrup and cut up bartlett pears. So good! In fact, if I think about it too much, I might have to make myself another one right now.

Monday, October 31, 2011

leftie's minimalist Halloween costume (you can't see her tail here and she'd refused the mask)

easily the best costume at the parade

We took leftie to a neighborhood Halloween event yesterday. It's the annual Pumpkin Stroll. I wasn't sure if I'd still be pregnant with jr. or not so I was a little underprepared for Halloween. Leftie's still a little young to understand what all the fuss is about so I didn't feel badly about it. Also, I wasn't sure how she'd feel about getting in a costume so I kept it simple with some kitty cat ears and a tail.

I had some childhood flashbacks with this kitty costume remembering how the whole effect gets a little diminished when you have to bundle up covering up nearly all the costume. Or how you have a great costume but then you only have sneakers to wear which, again, ruins the effect. My plan had been to dress leftie head to toe in black and add the ears and tail and a mask I made her to kitty it up. Sadly the temperatures dropped considerably with a crazy nor'easter that hit our area. We got about 3 inches of snow the night before! So instead she wore lots of layers and even my scarf when I realized that her wool jacket wasn't keeping her warm enough for the parade.

I was super into Halloween as a kid dreaming up costume ideas as early as May (much to my mother's dismay). I lost my enthusiasm for it after college and never really got back into it. I can feel the Halloween crazy settling into me again though. Walking home from the Pumpkin Stroll yesterday I thought about next year's Halloween and how I'd better get started early if I wanted our costumes to look as cool as I was envisioning them. Yes, I plan to participate next year. Happy Halloween!

Sunday, October 30, 2011

M cooked dinner tonight. It was oh so good. He got the recipe (Slow Roasted Pork Shoulder) from America's Test Kitchen after he found out that this cut of pork was on mega-sale at our local market. The roast gets a dry rub of salt, pepper and brown sugar (I think that's it) and sits in the fridge overnight. It's so crazy easy and crazy delicious! The brown sugar is subtle and lends such an awesome glaze to the outer edges/skin. I took a bite and thought: pork cracklin's!

The original recipe called for a peach sauce to go with it, but we went without and I have to say I did not miss it. I do wish we had thought to defrost and bake some of the baking soda biscuits that I have in the freezer. But I guess neither of us really need the carbs and butter, so going a night without was probably not such a terrible thing.

Even our esteemed food critic leftie requested that we keep the meat coming. That's an indicator of how good this roast was!

Monday, October 17, 2011

I finished a new pair of mittens for leftie the other day. And I've also been digging around the bags of her old clothes (from when she was born right up until recently) searching out the gender neutral infant pieces in preparation for jr.'s arrival.

I found these pink little bits of mitten-y things. They were the first things I ever knit for leftie. I was a bit wound up and weird in the way that pregnant women get just before giving birth. I'm pretty sure I cast on for these the night before I was to be induced. I remember laying in the bed in the labor and delivery room working on these thinking how they would be done in no time (I was wrong). I didn't much feel like knitting once the major contractions started. And I didn't much feel like knitting after leftie was born. But somehow I managed to finish them before we left the hospital. I remember washing them in the recovery room sink and laying them out near the window to dry and pulling them onto her tiny little hands before we left our room. I have pictures of leftie slurping on these from last spring while in her stroller walking around Cambridge and Somerville. The one on the left shrunk a little because m put them in the wash with the rest of her laundry. I was annoyed at the time but looking at them now, they look okay.

These I knit for leftie to wear last fall/winter. The strings attaching them together helped from losing them, but weren't much success in keeping them on. They sure were cute though.

I just remembered the long stripey pair that I knit as the solution to this problem. (I can't pull them out for this photoshoot because they are in leftie's room and I'm trying to get her to nap.) She never got much wear out of them but they sure were cute.

One day, I'll have a whole parade of hand knit mittens on show for each kid. And they sure will be cute.

NB: leftie's reaction to the Hello Kitty mittens are to greet them every time with an enthusiastic "HI KITTY!"

Friday, September 16, 2011

My absolute favorite snack these days. Nonfat vanilla yoghurt (I favor the Brown Cow brand. Go for the full fat version if you want extra creamy decadence.) + raspberries + wild blueberries + toasted slivered almonds.

I tasted my last scrumptious strawberry several weeks ago. So sad. I probably won't have another good strawberry for another six months. Luckily there are raspberries and blueberries to console me for a few weeks longer. And then what?

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Roquefort stuffed pork chops + potato and onion casserole + chopped salad

What a terribly yellow-y blurry photo! I assure you the meal tasted better than this sorry photo indicates. I have two recipes to share. The first is for the roquefort pork chops. I've made this a few times now and it's become a family favorite. It's a bit of work to slit the chops and stuff them but every thing else is super quick and easy. I prepped everything during leftie's nap and then just cooked everything up to have it in time for supper.

My few changes would be to use panko breadcrumbs as one of the reviewers suggest. I use only one TBSP of butter when sauteeing the mushrooms and onions and just add it to the breadcrumbs. Makes it a little less rich and faster since you're skipping the step of cutting up the bread and toasting it. This time around I also sauteed some figs in the pan drippings. Yum. I think figs+pork are a combo made in heaven. Pork really works well with cooked fruit in my opinion. The fruit gets all caramel-y and the pork responds so well to that sweetness.

The second recipe is for the potatoes. More my notes than a recipe. It's one that I grew up eating as a kid. It's kind of time consuming to make so I'm surprised that my mom made it as often as she did. She didn't have a food processor so she did all the prep work by hand. I think it's a southern dish mom picked up during our stint in Louisiana. I made a few changes which I think still honors the flavors without giving in to the can of cream of mushroom soup that gives the dish it's creamy flavor.

Potato + Onion Casserole

6 medium sized russet potatoes peeled and sliced 1/8"
1 and a half medium onion sliced very thinly into rings and then separated into individual rings
1 cup of beschamel or white sauce (I made mine with butter, flour, lowfat milk and a little onion powder)
a few sprigs of fresh thyme leave pulled off of the spines (optional - we have a lot of thyme in our garden this year)
french fried onions to garnish (optional - mom used Durkee's, I've found a version at Trader Joe's (?) I think and often I've gone without)
salt + pepper
finely grated hard cheese like parmesan or gruyere (optional)

Preheat oven to 350.
Butter a 9x13 baking dish. Add a layer of onions to the dish and then top with a layer of potatoes. The onions should lace the bottom of the dish and the potatoes should lay on top without overlapping each other. Sprinkle lightly with salt and pepper.

Repeat with the rest of the onions and potatoes sprinkling each potato layer with salt and pepper until all the ingredients are used up. End with a layer of potatoes. Add the thyme and pour the white sauce evenly over the casserole, it should seep through the layers. Sprinkle lightly with parmesan cheese or french fried onions (I've never tried both, but if you do, you should let me know how that turns out).

Bake covered (aluminum foil works just fine) in the oven for 45 minutes - 1 hour or until bubbling and the potatoes are fork tender. Finish by taking off the cover and letting the top brown lightly. Serve hot.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

I finished this back in March but never got around to photographing it. It's a hat. For me! I think that this will be the last project that I'll be knitting for myself for some time. There's a lot of baby knitting in my future. The hat is a basic pattern from some lovely drapey wool. My first time working with tweed? I love the results. I'm considering adding a girly embellishment to it like knitted flowers or maybe a snowflake?

More details here.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Finally finished this blanket I started the first time I was pregnant. It was meant to be for leftie but now jr will get more use out of it. Then again, when I showed it to leftie she immediately snuggled it against her face. And when I draped it around her shoulders she walked around the house hugging herself pleased as could be. When the blanket fell from her shoulders she immediately came to me asking that I drape it over her again. Probably the best reaction I've ever received to my knitting.

Ravelry details here.

Monday, September 12, 2011

The city girl contemplates the fruit.

m and leftie

leftie prefers gathering rocks over apples

We went apple picking over Labor Day weekend. It was warm and muggy and the mosquitos had a field day with my bare arms and legs. But I'm glad we went. The orchard we went to also had raspberries ripe for the picking. That's where the mosquitos got me. Our raspberry experience wasn't so great. The trade-off for organic/pesticide free food is that sometimes you have to share it with critters. In the case with the raspberries, I decided to let the grubs have my share (shudder. grubs.).

The apples are another story. We picked half a bushel and bought another bushel of "drops" at half price.  I have ambitious plans to make tarts and pies and the like. And eats lots and lots of orchard apples with peanut butter and a glass of milk (or herbal tea) which is my favorite way to eat apples.

If you're in the Boston area, I'd recommend Old Frog Pond which is the orchard we went to. It's a modest establishment but the only organic orchard close to us so we're thankful that they keep it running. I've noticed that apple picking has become a popular fall activity for families with small children. And I'd like to take leftie and jr to one where they feature hay rides and corn mazes and cider donuts (the donuts are for me, not necessarily the kids :) but as far as apple eating is concerned, it's strictly organic or nothing at all. We'll be back to Old Frog Pond later in the season to pick more apples to keep us going through winter.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Nahant Beach is lovely. It's clean, the waves are gentle, the parking fee is modest and we've enjoyed ourselves both times that we've been. An added bonus is that it's a little closer than the other beaches we go to.

Our first trip there I kept seeing what I thought were plastic discs in the water and sand. I tsk-tsk'ed a few times thinking about how sad it was that such a pretty beach could draw such irresponsible polluting visitors. I wasn't wearing my glasses. Upon further investigation it turned out that the grey disks were tiny sand dollars. How thrilling! For me, finding a sand dollar on the beach feels like finding a twenty dollar bill on the road. Of course I got all grabby and scooped up as many as my pregnant belly would let me bend over to scoop. Sadly these sand dollars were super fragile and I ended up breaking as many as I collected. I'm guessing that they are grey because the sand is grey?

We went back last weekend and I don't remember seeing any sand dollars this time. How mysterious...

Nahant is basically an island, by the way. Connected by a long bridge. Does that still constitute as being an island? Here's what google maps shows:

After the beach we circled back down to the Porthole Restaurant in Lynn, Ma (just at the Lynn and Nahant border). Going to the Porthole makes me feel like I've gone back in time to a restaurant with my parents. The menu, the decor, the bar, it all reminds me of seafood restaurants I went to as a kid with my parents. The food was surprisingly very good. (Is that snooty? I had low expectations. I was tired.) And very affordable considering that it's a seafood place. We were so impressed that we went back after our second Nahant Beach trip. It's basically a package deal now so if we go to Nahant Beach, it's pretty much expected that we'll have dinner at the Porthole.

It's been cooler lately. So much for September beach weather. So we'll probably have to save our next Nahant Beach trip for next summer. See you there or after at the Porthole.

Friday, September 9, 2011

(miette sweater: front)

(miette sweater: back, with button detail)

I was lucky enough to get a commission to knit up a special sweater for a special gal whom I've been following online. The commission was a copy of the sweater worn by a character in one of my favorite films. And so the Miette Sweater came to be.

It was a fun challenge trying to copy a sweater from screen shots of a film. The majority of it was easy (lots of stockinette stitch knit up in the round). The tricky part came when I had to copy the neckline which I thought had a pretty edging where the collar meets the body of the sweater. After a few false tries, I had to abandon the standard procedure for knitting up collars and knit the collar separately and sew it into place. I'm pleased with the results. And pleased to report that the recipient was pleased with the sweater.

Knitterly details here.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

left: Fig + Italian Chicken Sausage + Bleu Cheese
right: goat cheese and butternut squash

top left: Italian Chicken Sausage + Mushrooms + pesto
right: mushrooms + onions + kalamata olives + pesto
bottom left: Fig + Italian Chicken Sausage + Bleu Cheese

left half: Fig + Italian Chicken Sausage + Bleu Cheese
right half: Cherries + Italian Chicken Sausage + Goat Cheese

We had "gourmet" pizzas for dinner the other night. I prepped the ingredients in advance and bought a bunch of ready made crusts from Iggy's our favorite local bakery (Aside: their croissants are really quite good. I was pleased to find that they are comparable to croissants I had in France). Once I had a buffet of toppings to choose from, it was fun to mix and match and come up with some tasty combinations.

The Fig + Italian Chicken Sausage + Bleu Cheese quickly became a favorite for me and m, hence the repeated iterations. When I had one last pizza crust left to work with he requested that I make the fig and sausage one again. I didn't have enough toppings to make a whole pizza so I improvised and came up with the cherries and goat cheese version. Happy tummies all around.

Some notes for future pizzas:
I might make the pesto pizza with a thin smear of tomato sauce as the base, add the toppings, bake AND THEN drizzle some pesto over the finished pie. Baking the pesto really takes away from the flavor as it's a sauce best served uncooked.

The butternut squash + goat cheese pizza was lacking something. In the future I might roast the squash or sautee it with some savories like garlic or onion. Also would have been nice to add a few sprigs of fresh thyme before baking.