Let it be released from the mind

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Living the good life

Dinner last night was grilled trout stuffed with lemon and herbs (basil, sage, thyme and chives). This is our first successful grilling of a whole fish (minus head).

Thanks to N for the turnips recipe, which you can also see turned out caramelized and wonderful.
Speaking of yummo, if you've ever spent the hours of 6-7 watching Food Network, you have seen Rachael Ray. Also, you'd have to be culturally disastrous to have missed her somewhere. Every day when I lived in Silva Springs I would come home from work and go right out again running through the quaint neighborhoods off of 410. They were so shaded from the old tall trees, and one summer I had the joy of running on top of cicada death every step. The smell was unmistakeable. Pat & I also talked about how after they were gone we missed them so much, smell and all. After these runs, I would return to the air conditioned apartment on the 2nd floor and pass out in a pool of sweat in front of the T.V. just in time to catch an episode of Rachael Ray. Some of you may balk in disgust, but back then she was a little less publicized and more dorky wonderful. I don't think I've watched an episode since I left the SS, but this game still makes me laugh every time:
Here are some rules to use when you're up for getting sloshed in 30 Minutes or less.
Sayings: "EVOO" 1 drink
"Sammie" 1 drink
"Healthful" 1 drink
"Stoup" 2 drinks
"GB" 2 drinks
"Spoonula" 2 drinks
"Fry-o-lator" 3 drinks
any of the above followed by an explanation of what it stands for +1 drink
"Yummo" 1 drink
"Delish!" 1 drink
"Awesome" 1 drink
"How _____ is that?" 1 drink
creates an all-new and completely unnecessary abbreviation whole drink
repeats herself 1 drink
talks for so long without taking a breath that she nearly runs out of air 2 drinks
makes an awkward, spastic gesture with her arm 2 drinks
voice cracks 2 drinks
forces a laugh at something not funny 2 drinks
mispronounces "foreign" words such as "paprika" or "tapas" 2 drinks
is visibly flustered 3 drinks
comes back from refrigerator carrying too many ingredients 2 drinks
drops something on her way back whole drink
fails to provide a measurement and tells you to "eyeball it" 1 drink
provides an obviously wrong measurement, e.g. "about a tablespoon" while she dumps in a half-cup of something 2 drinks
uses a "secret ingredient" 2 drinks
the "secret ingredient" is nutmeg 3 drinks
mentions "the thing that makes you go Hmmm" 1 drink
"the thing that makes you go Hmmm" is nutmeg 3 drinks
creates a "healthful" meal that clearly contains over 50g of fat 2 drinks
makes a "gourmet" dish out of cheap ingredients (e.g. Tiramisu with nilla wafers and whipped cream) 3 drinks
expresses how good something tastes while she's still lifting fork to her mouth 2 drinks
takes such a big mouthful of something it takes several seconds before she can talk again 2 drinks
ruins something and tries to play it off as no big deal 3 drinks

Tuesday, June 26, 2007


We've got tubers! Turnips, to be exact. i can't believe that 2.5 weeks ago I was thinning these and they were smaller than the width of a pencil. Now look at them. They fight for space, pushing their roommate turnips over so they grow out of the sides of our elevated beds. In the background is all of our bok choy and a swiss chard. The bok choy tends to have skinnier stems than yo'd see in the store, so I'll have to research to figure out why they're growing this way. Perhaps the heat is just too much for them. On the way out--kale. It's wilting in the hot humid sun.

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

For those of you that have been to the in-laws, you may recognize this garden. Except it's looking really full this year. About 2.5 months ago we spent a weekend tilling, raking and de-rocking this patch of ground that's about 25 x 40. We planted seed after seed, row after row. We had a handful of starter plants, but about half of them succumbed to the hot and dry spring we had here in the East. In the foreground are tomato plants, with squash plants directly behind. I'm most excited to see if some of the heirloom squash that I planted will grow by fall. To the right of the tomatoes are pepper plants. Near our ugly scarecrow (we really need a scaregroundhog) there's a few remnants of corn. All of the cool greens are in the center 1/3, and in the upper left corner, lettuces.
Laika enjoys laying in the dirt, usually right where we're working. She spends her time watching the road, protecting the property.
At home, our hydrangeas are doing amazing things this year. D took these beautiful pictures of the hydrangeas in the front. They are forming in a multi-color of deep purples and pinks this year which is breathtaking. We've never seen them be different colors on the same bush, the same flower, because as you know their color is determined by the pH of the soil. I'm wondering what variety they are, because the blooms on them are a little different than other hydrangeas I've seen, with a pinpoint center and a star-like flower.

In the garden behind out house we have a couple of tomato plants (to supplement when we can't get down to the in-laws), a giant rosemary bush that has grown to this size over 3 years, and lots of herbs. The bees seem to be frequenting our purple flowered herbs--creeping thyme and lavendar. I've been wanting to cut the lavendar buds off, but I enjoy watching the bees on them, and thinking about how much I like honey.

Monday, June 18, 2007

Pick a pepper or a cuisine

Green Pepper can be too overwhelming, especially raw. I have found that I do not greatly enjoy it on sandwiches, or pizzas. Fajitas? Si. I definitely enjoy them charred a bit and cooked into things like mexican food and spaghetti sauces.

For those of you who don't know, green peppers are part of the holy trinity of Creole/Louisiana cuisine along with onions and celery. The holy trinity is known as mirepoix in French cuisine, which consists of onions, carrots and celery and forms the basis of most stocks and stews. Cross a few Alps and mountain streams and you have soffrito--onions, garlic, olive oil and usually tomatoes.

Friday, June 15, 2007


Justine Justine gave birth on May 11th to a beautiful baby boy, Logan Michael Doyle. Mother and baby are doing very well, and adjusting to life accordingly. He's probably already grown a ton in just a single month of life! And what a great picture.

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Random Trips & New Beginnings

Wow--I suck. I'm really sorry for all of my fans out there...all 3 of you. But I'm going to really push to be consistent. Starting today I'll catch you up on some amazing things happening in my life.

I went to Ottawa. Eh? Yeah, Ottawa. My cuz and her Canadian roomie and I drove one fine day to Wolfe Island, halfway between New York and Canada but definitely part of Canada. The island has one thoroughfare that passes through the city center (a general store or two, a post office, a bakery, and the ferry) and ends on the opposite side of the island where Sarah's house is at the furthest point. Their cottage is small and quaint with sweeping views of the St. Lawrence River from their windows. After book-reading, scrabble playing and wine-drinking the first night (apparently lots of Canadians bottle their own wine--good or bad), we retired to the smell of the wood-burning stove and silence.

The next day we spent the day in Kingston, once the original capital of Canada. This is the next town over the St. Lawrence, and where Sarah attended university. It has a very small-town feel, with plenty of boutiques and stores to keep one occupied. Roots is a store that plenty of college kids waste their money at buying $60 sweatpants that tout their symbol of a beaver and spout words of wisdom about our waning environment. That evening we found a local pub full of happy-hour-goers that offered an excellent option--SORRY! tableside. Cuz was bitter at her losses which made me grin.

We found the purpose for our visit the next day--Ottawa's famous tulip festival. Ottawa is also known for their Winterlude, which I hope to attend some day in my life. "Hey look kids, Big Ben, Parliament". The war memorial featured the only black tulips of the festival. Ottawa is a very clean city, until they get into the Stanley Cup and then fill the streets with their red-painted bodies and dogs sporting Senators jerseys! It was a perfect day to be in Ottawa as the main street was shut down to allow paraders cheering space for their favorite hockey team. (Tough break for them as we now know what happened in the Stanley Cup.) Near the large man-made lake in Ottawa is where we found the most tulips. Some sections lay in carnage--bare dirt and dried out bulbs from those early bloomers. Others were a sea of brilliant colors. Despite it being the last weekend for the festival, it wasn't as crowded as you'd ever see DC with the Cherry Blossoms.

D and I just returned from 4-5 days in Texas. We never dreamed in a million years we would go to Texas, but for Sara, a thousand times yes. Sara and Alan got married on June 9th in a lovely country club/ballroom setting, just a stone’s throw away from Caesar & Venus Baths (where strippers bathe you—hot dawg!) We seemed to notice this a lot about Texas. Cross the street and you enter another world. But I can’t forget the excellent rehearsal dinner at the South Fork Ranch with key meal items of smoked brisket and cinnamon ice cream (different courses obviously). The South Fork Ranch, home to the TV show Dallas was much smaller than I expected. Turns out they only shot the outdoor scenes and pool scenes here, and the rest was done in California. Nevertheless, the tractor ride to dinner and schmoozing at the Ewing’s pool was quite memorable. Apparently the only people that get to use that pool are the Dallas Cowboy Cheerleaders. I guess everyone has minimum standards.

Sara was absolutely beautiful as a bride, and she seemed very much smitten with Alan. I was so honored to be a part of her wedding day, and will cherish those memories for a long time.

To maximize our time in Texas, we went down a day early and went to Austin and San Antonio. Austin is a very fun college-oriented town with tons of live music and entertainment. With a saying “Keep Austin weird” you can see they aren’t very interested in following the Texas stereotypes. We stayed in a cute B&B, and one evening waited for the largest population of urban bats to emerge from the Congress Avenue bridge downtown. They were taking way too long, and the BBQ place was going to close so we had to abandon them. Ironworks was totally worth the ambience though. While the food wasn’t spectacular (Texans seem to gravitate toward beef ribs rather than pork which I think are too tough), the swinging wooden door, strings of lights and cold beer were perfect for the humid evening. I felt like Ashley Judd for a few minutes...sweaty and southern. We mosied (often a difficult thing to do post BBQ) up to 6th Street to find some live music and came to Nunos. Inside jammed Pinetop Perkins at 94 years young and his crew. Pinetop pulled himself up on the stage with a cane topped with piano keys, a cigarette in his mouth, and dip in the lip on the other side. Ashtray promptly place on the edge of the keyboard, he had the ability to take me to a different place. I crave the blues. We also went to the Friends bar before hopping in our Mustang rental and returning to bed. The next day we walked around the UT campus, spotted lots of orange and the infamous Texas Tower. we also visited the flagship Whole Foods store which had 5 restaurants inside and samples galore, and ate some more Tex-Mex.

At 1 pm we had nothing else to do, and didn't want to return to Dallas yet, so we hopped in the 'stang and drove another hour further to San Antonio. Luckily game traffic had not begun yet, and we were able to get to the Alamo with ease. The Alamo is Ran-Dum. It is literally situated amongst city buildings and in the center of a block. Directly across the street is a tourist trap of Ripley's Believe it or not and Texas souvenir stores. Just down the hillside sits the Riverwalk, which is also a bit strange. I thought it would be an actual river with a river side and a beautiful atmosphere. It was a canal, with concrete sides and while it housed plenty of restaurants, bars and stores, it lacked any authenticity. It had been built with Disneyfication in mind.