Monday, December 31, 2012

New Year Eve - 2012

Joyce Dopkeen/The New York Times

Devin shared this short video with me today.

With the wind howling outside and clouds speedily tearing across the sky I sat and listened to Maurice Sendack and Terry Gross speak on the program Fresh Air. A surprisingly poignent interview, packed with wisdom and emotion from Sendack, a magical creative mind that gave the world many gifts. Sendack died this May at the age of 83.

The best advice I've heard of late came from the end of this little video.
Simple and True.

"Live your life. Live your life. Live your life." - M. Sendack


These words feel ever so appropriate as we say goodbye to 2012 and begin another trip around the sun.

"I wish you all good things" T.Gross

Happy New Year.


p.s. Here's a less somber glimpse of Sendack on Stephen Colbert.

Saturday, December 29, 2012

Movies & Books & ZipCars . . . Oh My!

Sunset


It's winter (dark at 3:45pm), I don't have proper employment (quite yet), and most of my volunteer gigs have been on close due to the holiday. All these things combined = lots of time for reading, tv/movie watching and exploring. It's a tough life, but I'm working through it.

Yesterday I spent most of the day in or around city centre dodging the masses who are shopping the sales at the stores around town. Dear me, it was chaos! In an attempt to escape the masses I ducked into the Central Cambridge Library but it too was packed with studious people of all ages. Regardless I joined in, hoping to check out a few books that have been on my list. Two of the twelve books were available for check out, and three more I placed on hold. A library! What a wonderful thing.

Here's what's on my bedside table right now (a mix from the library and from my Kindle):


Too many things to read, right? I know, but I love having a reading list as well as a stack of books in my kindle or on my nightstand. I've recently finished the Lamott (it was okay, not great), and have started Cloud Atlas and The Diary of Mattie Spenser. I also read a poem from the Mary Oliver each morning, and as for the books on mindfulness and depression, I'm curious about them as cognitive therapy is all the range in the evidence-based practice world these days. I hope to apply it not only to my own bouts of depression, but to the people I work with as a therapist as well. I'm also hoping to explore the world of Mindfulness Based Art Therapy as I think the two practices together are a winning combination. Especially with populations coping with chronic illness or a disease diagnosis, like breast cancer. (Interested or curious about all this? Here's the article that inspired me.)


As for movies and television shows, here are a few I've seen in the theatre or at home, and a few more I'd like to see sometime soon:
BBC streaming is amazing, we get so many programs and films for free! And what we can't get we can download from the states or rent from iTunes. Who needs a TV? What about you guys? What's everyone watching and reading this winter? Got any suggestions for me? I'd love to add more things to my lists. (I Heart Lists!)

Tonight I'm headed to city centre again to meet Devin and a couple of friends for a burrito (or what passes as a burrito here) and then a pub afterwards. I hope the winds don't blow me off my bike!
Tomorrow we've rented Daffodil (the Zipcar at our complex) for a 4-hour trip to . . . well we don't quite know where, but I'm thinking either here, here or here. Who knows, we may just end up going for a drive to see what's out there. With only bikes and public transport we've not ventured out of town very much, so we're going to take advantage of the predicted sunny day (fingers crossed) and go see some English countryside! Maybe we'll even have a cuppa tea and some cake! I'll wear my white gloves.


Thursday, December 27, 2012

Around The Web - End of 2012 Edition

Photo Credit

Welcome to the last "Around The Web" of 2012!

I hope this post finds you all in a happy haze, overflowing with an abundance of love and laughter after spending time with the ones you love, or doing the things you most love to do this time of year.
The rain continues here in Cambridge, the field of winter wheat outside our flat glowing green under the overcast sky. I sit in front of our full-spectrum light (Thanks Chris and Jen!) getting my rays in as I finish my tea before tackling today's list of things to do. Devin is out for a run, aglow in all the reflective running gear I bought him for Christmas. And for you, dear readers, here are a bunch of things to read about while you wait for planes, avoid getting back to work, or stay in bed just a little bit longer before facing the day.


Why one Mom started telling her children she is beautiful. What do you think?


10 Simple Tips from Apartment Therapy that might make you happier in your home and life. I already do  #1, 2 and 3, but am interested in starting #5, 6 and 10. Which ones speak to you? Which ones make you scoff or cringe?


For those of you who run a business or work with your partner.  But frankly, it's good advice for anyone in relationship (and I don't just mean with romantic partners)


I don't know why, but bread seems to spoil more quickly here for us in the UK. Maybe it's because I used to freeze it and now we don't (no freezer!). How do you keep bread fresh? Here are some tips from a professional baker.


Check out this giant knitted blanket! The knitter used PVC pipe for knitting needles! I told my sister-in-law of For the Love of Squishe the other day, and wanted to share this with the rest of you.


On Not Getting It All Done. For those of you continually haunted by your unending To Do list.


BAKED MACARONI. Enough said.


While we continue about our lives, the people of the Philippines are picking up the pieces of theirs.
Did you hear about this much in the US or elsewhere? To donate, visit the Red Cross.


A newly-wed couple share their perspective about a cross county move right after getting hitched. Sound familiar? ;-)


Setting goals for the New Year? Wanting to make sure you are successful and you don't get down on yourself when the goals feel impossible to achieve? Find your Page 181.


For you tofu-eaters: Ready to try a new glaze? I am! Check out Sticky, Spicy, Good: Hot and Sweet Marmalade Glazed Tofu from Poppytalk.


And for dessert, Sweet and Spicy Peanut Brittle!


A bit cheesy, but still nice post about resourcefulness (in the kitchen and in life).


Still looking for a gift for a special lady in your life? Check out this morse code jewelry line. Simple, stylish and well, just kinda neat.


Check out some of the best nature photographs from 2012 over at Boston.com




Happy Holidays!

Happy Holidays & A Happy New Year!

Love, Devin and Hayley

Cambridge, England 2012



Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Christmas Catch Up!

Well hello there!

It's been almost exactly one month since my last post . . . How can that be?

In an attempt to share just a few of the wonderful (and not so wonderful) things that have been happening around here I'll be blasting you all with bullet points and photos in this post. I may end up making this two posts but for the sake of getting something out there before it's 2013 . . . well let's just get started!

Thursday, November 29, 2012

A Mélange of Things


I've yet to have my tea, and am in the middle of snarfing down some toast, so don't expect too much from this post. Also, please overlook any misspellings, run-on sentences, and general nonsense. I'm trying to squeeze a post in before Greg and Edie arrive (!!) this afternoon, and before knitting club meets at 10:00am. Tomorrow we head off to London for a week so I suspect the blog will be rather quiet. Since I know most of you live and die by my insightful posts, I wanted to get one out before we leave town. Here we go!

Sunrise Today

  • As I told you earlier this week The Duke and Duchess of Cambridgeshire came to town, and I managed to go see them! Front row and center. They looked a surprising amount like every photo I've ever seen of them (which isn't that many). I'm glad I attended, glad I snapped a few photos, and want to report, that the boyscout troop who gifted the Duchess Kate with multiple bouquets of flowers, also gifted her a tiny white baby onesie (a baby jumpsuit for you baby novices)! So, the rumors about her being pregnant, maybe true after-all?


  • I've been spending lots of time painting and drawing and while things aren't perfect or my favorite (in my experience the creative process is never "perfect" or "my favorite"), it's been fun to work with ink and watercolor. I've even hung a few tiny images in our bedroom. I hope to keep it up and to start on better quality paper so I'm happier with the finished product.






  • I'm still trying to figure out what to put up on the walls in this place. I'm having a hard time making decisions or finding a place for picture frames that I can stand. In the meantime I keep making strange things and just hanging them up over where the previous occupants left holes or picture hangers.


  • I seem to make many quiches these days. Here's yet another photo of a quiche from my kitchen. This one is bok choy, onion, garlic, and mature cheddar cheese (from the Lake District). It's keeping us alive. 


  • We received a wedding gift in the mail this week from my dear friend Amy (who I've been friends with since kindergarden!) and her family. Ages ago I mentioned to her that I liked the TV show Friends but would never allow myself to buy all the shows on DVD (judge me all you want, I like the show and it makes me smile.). And what came in the mail this week? Ta Da! Thanks Power's family for hours of entertainment as the long, cold, dark winter here has only just begun! And thanks to Hannah for her amazing drawing! Notice the book in the corner? If you haven't read it, I recommend it. Though, it does tell you goldfish are red . . . which we all know isn't true . . . They're orange! 

  • See that lovely ribbon on the package above? Well I'm recycling it and can't wait to gift this and a second bottle of wine to my In-Laws whose plane is due to land in 1/2 hour! Whoot whoot! 


  • Thus bringing me to the end of a choppy, poorly edited photo post. I hope everyone has a great rest of the work week, and lovely weekend. More from me next week!

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Chewy Double Chocolate Chip Cookies


After about four hours of painting and drawing (more on that later) I needed to do some moving about. What to do . . . what to do . . . make cookies! I'd been thinking about doing this before my in-laws arrive on Thursday because I know my father-in-law is a cookie monster, much like his son. (If there are homemade cookies in the house, Devin eats them for breakfast = cookie monster)

I decided to make something different than my usual go-to recipes so after searching online for a bit, I found this recipe and modified it to meet my needs and desires (nuts and oatmeal).

I've only had one, but they turned out pretty tasty, if I do say so myself. While baking the cookies I made another quiche because I still had one homemade pie crust in the fridge from when I made quiche last week.  This time I blind baked the crust and it turned out better than last weeks, but still had a bit of a "soggy bottom". I think next time I'll bake it for longer (15 minutes instead of 12), with more beans inside the parchment paper to better distribute the heat.

Before you rush off to make these chewy, gooey, tasty discs of chocolatey goodness, make sure you try reading my blog (or any website you visit on a regular basis) though the mastermind of gizoogle.net. It makes most websites read with a touch more gansta to them. (Thanks to Gayle for the tip!)


Ingredients


1 1/4 cups butter
1 cup white sugar
1 cup light brown sugar
2 large eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla
1 1/4 cups flour
3/4 cup oats
3/4 cup cocoa
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup chocolate chips
1 cup diced pecans (or nut of your choice)

Preparation


Cream together the butter and sugars, then add the eggs and vanilla.

Blend in the cocoa and add baking soda, salt and blend well.

Slowly add the flour into the creamed mixture, adding the oats after all the flour is incorporated.

Last,  fold in the chocolate chips and pecans

Bake at 350°F/175°C for 9 - 12 minutes, turning trays half-way through baking time.

Yield: 24(ish) cookies


Monday, November 26, 2012

Royal Visit



 Woah. It's going to be chaos on Wednesday.

Royal Chaos.

I forgot this was even happening until I saw it in the newspaper today. It seems that downtown there will be multiple street closures and likely packed with thousands of people vying for a glimpse of the royal couple. I don't think I'll toss any elbows but if I happen to be crossing nearby (which is likely as you pretty much have to go through the city to get anywhere across town) I might try to take a peek.
The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge have yet to visit Cambridge since their marriage so the town is all a flutter with their pending arrival. A strange phenomenon indeed.

Would you try to see them if you were me? Fight the crowds for a blurry picture on your phone?

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Things Kids Make You Say

Full Photo Credit and Image Rights to Nathan Ripperger


This was such a good idea that it deserves a post all of it's own.

A graphic designer Dad makes posters of the strange things he says because of his children. Check out his Flickr page or visit his Etsy shop to see more!

Awesome.


Broccoli Cheddar Quiche with Homemade Crust

Ta Da! (Like our new red ceramic ware?)
I guess I was on a cooking kick in anticipation of Thanksgiving this week because I also made this quiche one night for dinner. I bought a couple of needed things for our wee kitchen, and wanted to put them to use! (Note: Red ombre ceramic crock in background, and red ceramic quiche dish!)
I didn't take any photos of the crust making process, but it turned out great! I still have the second crust in the fridge and will likely use it soon, if I can get motivated to cook . . . so much cooking lately!


Broccoli, Onion and Cheddar Quiche Modified from All Recipes 


2 tablespoons butter
 1 onion, minced
 1 teaspoon minced garlic
 2 cups chopped fresh broccoli
 1 (9 inch) unbaked pie crust
 1 1/2 cups shredded mature cheddar cheese
 4 eggs, well beaten
 1 1/2 cups milk
 1 teaspoon salt
 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
 1 tablespoon butter, melted

Preheat oven to 350° F (175° C).

Over medium-low heat melt butter in a large saucepan. Add onions, garlic and broccoli. Cook slowly, stirring occasionally until the vegetables are soft. Spoon vegetables into crust and sprinkle with cheese.

Combine eggs and milk. Season with salt and pepper. Stir in melted butter. Pour egg mixture over vegetables and cheese.

Bake in preheated oven for 30 minutes, or until center has set.


Blurry Broccoli


Foolproof Pie Crust (makes 2 crusts)


2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon sugar
1 cup unsalted butter, cut into 1 tbsp. pcs., very cold
1/4-1/2 cup cold water

Put the flour, salt and sugar into a bowl, mix together. 

Add the butter and mix with fingertips until the mixture looks grainy.*

Then slowly, add the water until you can form the dough by pressing it between your fingers.

Decant the loose dough onto a piece of plastic wrap.

Using the wrap, fold the loose dough towards the middle and press with the back of your hands to form dough.

Split into two pieces and wrap each and chill for at least 4 hours before using.

Dough can be made ahead for up to one week.

Rolling out the dough: I find it easiest to roll the dough out between two pieces of parchment paper (or plastic wrap), as this allows you to get the dough much thinner without the trouble of it sticking to the counter or needing to add more flour to prevent inevitable sticking. Plus, it keeps the kitchen much cleaner, which is always a plus in my book.

* Dough can be made using a food processor, see original recipe for directions. 





Cooling Quiche

Woah. That's some eggy cheesy goodness.



Our First Thanksgiving (as a married couple)

A Frosty Saturday Morning, Cambridge

We finally had our Thanksgiving here in Cambridge yesterday evening, and oh how lovely it was!
It was a small group of us, just the right size to fit in a home, around a table without too much fussing. We divided the menu between us and each managed to make a very, very tasty meal! Even the kids approved! The menu was extensive and the dishes delicious, but I only have the recipes for what I made. Perhaps Amber and Andrea will offer us their recipes if they wish?

I made three dishes and a veggie gravy, pictured below. This was easily the most cooking I've ever done for a Thanksgiving dinner, as well as my first crack at making dressing/stuffing and I must admit, it was a gustatory success! Thankfully Amber and Andrea also created a lot of wonderful foods as well; amazing cranberry sauces, beet salad with roasted walnuts and feta, rasin marmalade-like goodness, butter peas and green beans, pumpkin and pecan tartlets, chocolate chip cookies and of course turkey!

The children made some beautiful artwork for the votive candle centerpieces, Devin bought some lovely beers from Marks & Spenser, we polished off at least 3 bottles of wine and we laughed and laughed, giving thanks for all we have and all we're blessed with.

A happy, if belated, Thanksgiving in Cambridge. Read on for recipes and to see some photos of the bounty!

Recipes For Each Listed Below, 

Photo Credit


Roasted Brussel Sprouts with Red Onion Balsamic Glaze - (modified from Martha Stewart)


Ingredients

2.5 Lbs (1.6 Kg)  Brussel Sprouts
3 Tablespoons Olive Oil
Salt and Pepper to taste
2 Red Onions, thinly sliced lengthwise
3 Tbs Balsamic Vinegar

Serves: 8 - 10 (recipe can easily be cut in half for fewer servings)

Preparation

Preheat oven to 400° (205° C)
Trim outer leaves and stems of your sprouters. Cut in half.
Toss with 2 Tbs olive oil, salt and fresh ground pepper.
Place on two baking sheets (or roast in shifts if you have more than two pans), bake for ~30 minutes, turning sprouters over 1/2 way through cooking time (~15 minutes)

While sprouters are roasting, chop red onions and sauté over medium-low heat in 1 Tbs olive oil until wilted and transparent, about 3 - 4 minutes. Add 3 Tbs balsamic vinegar (stand back to avoid the fumes), cook until vinegar is reduced and onions are glazed.

Remove sprouters from oven, toss with balsamic onions.
Serve with a dusting of parmesan or pecorino cheese on top.
Eat heartily.


Vegetarian Dressing (modified from Veg Web)


Ingredients

12 cups seeded bread, diced
2 tablespoons margarine
2 medium onions, diced
6 stalks celery, sliced

1/2 teaspoon rosemary
1/2 teaspoon thyme
1/2 teaspoon sage
1/2 cup fresh parsley, chopped
1/2 teaspoon salt
3 cups vegetable stock
pepper, to taste

Preparation

1. Preheat oven to 350° F (175°C). Place sliced seeded bread directly on oven racks at for about 15 minutes, until the bread is well toasted. Meanwhile, warm the margarine in a saucepan and saute onion, celery over medium heat until onion is translucent.
2. Remove seeded bread from oven and add onion mixture, herbs, and parsley.  Mix well. Place into 9"x 13" baking dish. Carefully drizzle the stuffing with vegetable stock and toss gently.
3. Bake, uncovered, for 20-30 minutes. Season with black pepper if desired.

Serves: 8 - 10 people


Vegetarian Gravy (modified from All Recipes)


Ingredients

1/4 cup vegetable oil
1/4 cup unsalted butter
1 chopped onion
5 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
4 teaspoons nutritional yeast
2 tablespoons light soy sauce
2 tablespoons red wine
2 cups vegetable broth
1/2 teaspoon dried sage
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
Hot water *

Preparation

Heat butter in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Add oil. Saute onion and garlic until soft and translucent, about 5 minutes. Stir in flour, nutritional yeast, and soy sauce to form a smooth paste. Gradually whisk in the vegetable broth. Season with sage, and pepper (add salt if veggie broth isn't salty enough). Bring to a boil. Reduce heat, and simmer, stirring constantly, for 8 to 10 minutes, or until thickened.

You can use it as is, or pass the gravy through a colander if you like your gravy more smooth/pourable.
* I added about 1 cup of hot water, incorporating it slowly to thin my gravy out as it was very thick.

Makes ~ 4 Cups


Carleton College Farmhouse Cookbook 2001 - 2002


Curried Chickpeas with Tomato and Onion
(The Carleton Farmhouse Cookbook, Devin's Undergraduate Years)

Ingredients

1 cup dried chickpeas (2.5 - 3 cups cooked)
1/4 teaspoon baking soda (if you're soaking overnight)
3 cups water
2 lbs sweet onions, chopped
1/4 cup olive oil
1 16 oz can tomatoes
1/4 teaspoon cayenne
1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
1/8 teaspoon ground cinnamon (I omit this, because cinnamon + savory = ew)
1/4 teaspoon turmeric
1/4 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon salt
Freshly ground black pepper to taste

Preparation

Soak the chickpeas overnight with baking soda. If you're using a pressure cooker, place chickpeas in pressure cooker and cook for ~18 minutes after it's come to pressure. Drain chickpeas, reserving the cooking water.

While chickpeas are cooking, in a large pot sauté the onions in olive oil until softened. Drin the tomatoes, reserving the juice, and chop tomatoes coarsely if necessary. Add the tomatoes to the onions. 

Measure the reserved tomato juice and add enough of the chickpea cooking water to make 1 - 1 1/4 cups liquid. Add this to the onion and tomato mixture. Stir in spices and simmer for 30 minutes. You may need to add small amounts of water throughout the simmer to maintain moisture. Serve alone or over rice and/or with tasty bread.

Devin's Bounty

The Whole Tasty Meal


Thank you to Andrea and John for opening your lovely home to us. For the the lift to and from our West Cambridge abode through the rain, both ways after I swore to myself we'd get a taxi. You're generosity is very much appreciated! I'm so glad the NVS group brought us together so we could share this holiday and many other good times together.

Thank you to Amber for meeting me in the rain on your cycle to exchange spices, baking dishes and walnuts hours before we were supposed to have dinner ready. Thank you to Adam, Ella and Charlie for your amazing artwork, and your generosity of spirit and warm welcome to your home on Thursday night for a fun night of babysitting.

Go Team Thanksgiving!

Oh, and were we serious about the fondue party for Christmas. . . . ?

In Gratitude

I hope everyone back home had a lovely Thanksgiving, no matter what you ended up doing. Were you surrounded by family and friends? Did you go to work and treat it as a normal day? Did you volunteer somewhere that needed a hand? Whatever you did, whom ever you spent the time with I hope you had moments of stillness where you were able to reflect on what being thankful means to you.

Berkeley Rose Garden - Nov 2011

On Thursday, I couldn't help but feel far from home, a bit disconnected from the festivities that were taking place with our various groups of family and friends. For the past three years we hosted a Thanksgiving potluck in our cozy abode in Berkeley. As I went about my day in Cambridge I reflected on fond memories of friends and family cramming into our tiny space, all the furniture pushed up against the walls, and numerous dishes of tasty vegetarian food covering every available surface. Friends would bring folding tables, dining room chairs, their own plates and silverware because we never owned enough dishes to provide for everyone who came. The day would last well into the evening. After feasting at least twice, so you could try a bit of everything that was brought, we'd leave the house en masse and take a walk through the dimly lit neighborhood streets, stopping to noticing the first of the Christmas decorations put on display that week.

Outside Our Berkeley Home - Nov 2011

Once back at our home we'd strip off our coats and hats, the house feeling toasty and warm, smelling of savory and sweet dishes, the sweet dishes still to come. More wine, spiced brandy apple cider, maybe a finger or two of whiskey. Then desserts, more laughter and talking, disassembling ears of corn, folding origami, and inevitably the great clean-up. Devin managed to capture two of these epic Thanksgivings in a time-lapse format which we still watch from time to time. Watching our home transform and fill with those we love, having a grand party, and then transforming back into a quiet and still abode. Magic, captured in time-lapse.

Our Quilt - Now & Then

Traveling to and from my volunteer position at the cancer centre on Thursday I thought about how much things have changed in one year . . . and yet, so many things are similar and remain the same, while other things have improved and grown by great measures. A year ago before the Thanksgiving festivities began, I was doing the work I love, and was growing as an individual, as a professional. A year later I find myself in another country, being invited to pilot a similar program, for a similar job, with a similar population. To say I'm grateful for this opportunity to live and work abroad is an understatement. To be welcomed into situations and organisations were people are walking the razor's edge humbles me each and every time. How did I become so lucky to live a life such as this?

Thankful.
Grateful.
Humbled.

For a warm flat and a laptop from which I write these words.
Money to buy food and other luxuries.
Friends that write, call, send love through the air.
Family that unconditionally supports, loves, gives, and listens.
A husband that tells me how much he loves me, each and every day.
An education and life experience that helps me do the work I love.
A body that does so much without my conscious instruction.
A heart that's willing, open, vulnerable, and giving.
A mind that is curious and malleable, and able to record and recall memories.

Thankful. So very thankful.

Great Grandma Bessie's Flowering Begonia









Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Around The Web

Truc & Toc

Truc & Toc are taking pearler beads to a whole new level! See photos on their Facebook page or check out their website here. I Love it! Wish I'd seen this when I was working at Children's Oakland! Teen Group activity!!

As an Art Therapist I'm all about helping people integrate their feelings, thoughts and actions through creative expression. I think I deserve to integrate a cutting board into my sink area. (Was that comparison too much of a stretch? I think this idea is simple and beautiful! Maybe someday. . .

Day One: A Simple Journaling App. I read about this on Meet Me At Mike's, where writer Pip does a lovely job talking about why she likes it. A place to document your life with photos and a bit of text. You can keep it private or publish it for others to see. In this day where people tend to always have their phones but maybe not a pen and paper, this might be a lovely substitute to stay creative.

Speaking of being creative, if your fingers are feeling itchy to make something, make sure they DO NOT MAKE THIS. Ew.

Impermanent Graffiti. I'm diggin it.

A film of a beautiful road trip across the USA by Mike Matas & Sharon Hawng. Made me nostalgic for our summer trip.

A great book, about books! How meta . . . But seriously, ever get invited over to someone's house and while you're waiting for them to bring back the mug of tea and snacks you look at the titles lining their shelves? The Ideal Bookshelf Book interviewed one hundred creative thinkers and writers and asked them to tell us what's on their bookshelf. Makes me want to tuck in with a blanket and read the whole day through!

We've got a good thing going here in Cambridge, but I still dream of the day Devin and I have a house to call our own. No matter the size. The book How Buildings Learn, which I found over at Free Cabin Porn, talks about how homes change over time to meet the needs of their inhabitants.

And we gotta end on this bed. Cause what could be better?

Happy Wednesday, Y'all.



Around The Web - Thanksgiving Edition



While my friends and family back home are celebrating Thanksgiving tomorrow (Thursday the 22nd), how about reading up on the 1st Thanksgiving which took place in 1621. The menu of 1621 was just a wee bit different than what we eat today!

In doing research for the upcoming Thanksgiving holiday meal I've been finding lots of tasty vegetarian recipes on the www. These salads would be great anytime of the year! 15 Fresh Salads from The Kitchn.

Here's something I will NOT be making this year, or likely ever. As a vegetarian people tend to think we need to have "a dish" that will substitute for the turkey. I think this happens in part because people are kind and want to make sure we get our protein, but part because, what's a grand holiday meal without a centerpiece? Well, let me tell you, we do not need a "Veggieducken" to make a grand holiday meal grand. Nope. Don't need it one bit.

Confused what to have on hand for that vegetarian? Here are some tasty pasta dishes to try! Or here are even more recipes that aren't pasta (because, let's face it, vegetarians get sick of pasta sometimes).

My Friend Amber and I are in charge of making the stuffing/dressing for TG dinner. I've never made it before so I found this pretty helpful. (Do you know the difference between stuffing/dressing? This year a few people in my family learned the difference!) (Stuffing = inside something. Dressing = On it's own)

Rosemary Parker House Rolls look easy, and tasty. But frankly, I'd probably substitute the rosemary with a different flavor. Rosemary tastes like soap or hand lotion to me . . .

Accordion potatoes with rosemary 9 (yuck!) and garlic (yum!)

Broccoli Soup. I'm not sure I've ever had it, but this recipe from A Cup of Jo makes me want some.

A new twist on ye ole green bean casserole, it has pepper jack cheese! CHEESE!

Nanaimo Bars. Ever heard of them? Me neither. Apparently they are a staple dessert in Canada. They look pretty tempting. Walnuts, coconut, chocolate, custard. What's not to like!

After reading through numerous food related posts, and spending ample time in the kitchen myself, I'm feeling rather full, despite the fact we haven't had our Thanksgiving dinner yet! (It's on Saturday, Yay!) This citrus cocktail from A Beautiful Mess sounds just like the refreshing drink I might need after a day of indulging. Or I could just make it today, you know just to test it . . .

Happy Thanksgiving Eve to my friends and family back home.
Now get to cooking!!!








Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Book Club Special Edition: November

I've been trying to keep up with my California Book Club by distance this summer and autumn, and am scoring about 75% I think . . .

August:        The Tiger's Wife: READ
September:  Cloud Atlas - To Read
October:      The Marriage Plot: READ
November:  The Brooklyn Follies - READ

I'd like to read Cloud Atlas as I've heard from many people what a great book it is, one friend even saying it was the best book she'd ever read! I have to read it before the movie comes out here in the UK. Jobless? Only a handful of friends? Ample free time? I'm pretty confident I can get that done . . .

I've been enjoying the books a great deal, but I have to say, I think the Book Club food is slacking a bit these days . . . no one seems to be showing up for dinners at the scheduled time . . . Maybe I'm at the wrong address? :-)

In other news:

WELCOME JULIETTE LYNN!!!! Our newest member of Book Club. The beautiful Juliette was born at 12:18am on Monday, Nov 12th, weighing in at 7 lbs, 14 ounces and measuring 21 inches long! A heartfelt congratulations to Jessie, Lucas, Boy Cat and Girl Cat. I hope you are dutifully celebrating the newest (and dare I say cutest?) member of the family with lots of snuggling, cooing and protective pacing (cats only). (P.S. I didn't ask Jessie and Lucas if I could use these photos so just say the word guys and the photos get taken down!)

Seriously, so perfect!

Proud Papa and wee Juliette!

I was going to write more to this post, but looking at that adorable little face (Juliette's. Sorry Lucas.) has me at a loss for words.
So I'm going to end there.

Welcome to the world Julilette.
We're so glad you're here.

xoxo



No Knead Bread, Apple Tart, & Four Bean Chili

This is what things looked like this morning when I finally rolled out of bed around 9:00. The weather turned out to be pretty mild, only looking threatening from the windows up high. I made it to the newcomers coffee hour but felt frazzled and after a bit of shopping came home to get my head in the game. For me baking = stress relief and so I got down to work, bouncing between the computer and the kitchen counter organizing my work/life while making some tasty food in between.


No Knead Bread

Yesterday and today I've been working on a batch of No Knead Bread. I'm afraid for me it's ending in a state of FAIL, but it's still in the oven so we'll see what happens when I take it out. It came out "just fine" as Grandma Mary Helen would say. It isn't the tallest or prettiest bread but it's tasty! Chewy in the middle, crisp on the outside!

Oh! Not so bad after all!

My friend Ida has made bread like this a few times and she's told me how easy it is. I even watched her do a few steps and it did indeed look pretty painless. The recipe I followed said it was so easy a 4-year-old could make it, (which is demonstrated here). But my dough turned out a bit funny, and the finished bread looks nothing like the pictures, but the taste is good.  I'm beginning to think I should have paid better attention to The Great British Bake Off and read up about what kind of flour to use (strong flour vs. plain flour). I used plain flour and I think that's where I might have gone wrong. But who knows. I'll try again sometime and will likely add more (strong) flour. In the meantime I made other things yesterday and you can read about them below.

What the heck? Is it bread? Is it a pancake?


Tasty, if flat and funny looking.

No Knead Bread Ingredients

3 Cups Flour
1/4 Teaspoon Instant Yeast
1 Teaspoon Salt
1 1/2 Cups Lukewarm Water

Preparation

Mix. Cover. Rest for 8 - 20 hours (according to the author)
Pour dough onto floured surface, wet hands, fold all ends toward center.
Turn dough blob over so you have a smooth, tight surface (or if you're me, it'll just keep oozing around on the parchment like sticky pancake batter. Oops)
Let rest for 2 more hours in floured bowl. Dough should double in size (or if you're me, it barely grew)
When there's 1/2 hour left of your 2 hour resting, pop covered enameled cast iron pot
(think Le Creuset-ish) at 400 degrees (230 Celsius).
Once the full 2-hour rest is complete place dough ball into piping hot pot, re-lid the pot, and place back in oven.
Bake for 30 minutes.
Remove lid, bake for additional 15 - 20 minutes.
Remove from oven and let cool.

Rustic Apple Tart w/ Brown Sugar Glaze

So completely NOT mine. From Sprinkle Bakes

After I started the bread yesterday I noticed we had some apples that were about to head to the rubbish bin (see how I called it rubbish, not trash? I'm integrating to the British culture!)  I did a one shot internet search and came across this Rustic Apple Tart in Cast Iron Pan, which was perfect since we don't own a pie pan.  But I'd need a crust, which I wasn't that excited about making so I found this
lazy pie crust and did that instead. To compensate for my laziness I made the extra the effort to glaze the whole tart with some brown sugar glaze. Here are the details:

Lazy Pie Crust 


1 1/2 Cups All-Purpose Flour
2 Teaspoons White Sugar
1 Teaspoon Salt
1/2 Cup Vegetable Oil
2 Tablespoons Milk

Mix everything together in the pan you're using for your pie/tart. In my case it was a 9-inch cast iron pan. Mix with a fork or your hands until everything is incorporated. Press dough until evenly spread around pan. That's it! It's that lazy. And I should mention it didn't work well with this tart, so don't try it. If you do, it's you're own fault for making something very strange. Tasty enough, but s.t.r.a.n.g.e.


Rustic Apple Tart Ingredients


5 - 6 Apples (mine were small), roughly chopped (I left apple peel on mine)
White Sugar *
Brown Sugar *
Flour *
Cinnamon *
Nutmeg *
Butter *
* I eyeballed all these ingredients and just made it up. If you want more precision I'd follow the recipe which can be found on the the above link to the tart.

Preparation

Chop apples.
Sprinkle apples with everything but the butter.
Place apple mixture on top of crust.
Drop chunks of butter throughout.
Fold edges of crust up and around apples.
Coat crust in melted butter to help crust brown.
Bake for 30 - 40 minutes until crust is golden.

Brown Sugar Glaze Ingredients

1/2 Cup Packed Light Brown Sugar
1/2 Teaspoon Vanilla Extract
2 Tablespoons Water

Preparation

Mix all ingredients in saucepan over medium heat.
Stir continually until sugar granules are melted.
Allow to cool slightly, spoon over tart.
Serve warm.


Four Bean Chili

And don't think I went through all that and we just ate apple tart for dinner. Oh No. I made 4-bean chili too. This is the recipe I use, but I modify it because I like 4 kinds of beans instead of 2, and since I didn't have bulgar on hand I used pearl barley. Overall, a great recipe. Have I mentioned this recipe before? I'm trying to search my own blog to find out but alas, the search gadget isn't working. Ideally I'd use dry beans instead of canned, but let's face it, that's not going to happen anytime soon.


2 tablespoons olive oil
1 onion, chopped
2 carrots, peeled, thinly sliced
1 red bell pepper, seeded, chopped
3 large jalapeño chilies, seeded, minced (about 4 1/2 tablespoons)
1 28-ounce can crushed tomatoes with added puree
3 cups water
2 15-ounce cans black beans, rinsed, drained
2 15-ounce cans kidney beans, rinsed, drained
1/2 cup bulgur*
2 tablespoons white wine vinegar (or regular vinegar)
5 garlic cloves, minced
2 tablespoons chili powder
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cumin
1 1/2 teaspoons ground coriander
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon **

*   Also called cracked wheat; available at natural foods stores and supermarkets.
** I omit the cinnamon because I don't care for how it tastes in savory dishes.


Preparation

Heat 2 tablespoons olive oil in heavy large pot over medium-high heat. Add onion, carrots, red bell pepper, and jalapeños and sauté until onion and carrots are almost tender, about 8 minutes. Add tomatoes, 3 cups water, beans, bulgur, white wine vinegar, garlic, and spices. Bring to boil. Reduce heat to medium-high and cook, uncovered, until bulgur is tender and mixture thickens, stirring often, about 20 minutes. Ladle chili into bowls and serve.


Don't you love all the photos I took of these various cooking processes?

Yeah. Oops!
Happy Thanksgiving Week to my friends and family back home!

Last night's Moonrise

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Tuesday in Cambridge

Is the day over already?
The sun is setting earlier and earlier . . . it's already dark outside, lights glimmering in the distance.
But what a lovely day it was (so far).


We woke up to sun-shiny skies (sun almost always = good day for me) and I managed to get my butt out the door before 9:00am for a nice long walk. Back home I was generally the first one up and out of the house well  thanks to a job with a regular schedule, now our roles have reversed and it's rare that I make much of myself before Devin leaves the flat. But I digress . . .

So, a long walk through the dappling sunlight, along mossy green fences, and below the last of the golden, golden leaves as they cling to the soon to be naked branches. Instead of listening to a podcast like I usually do, I used Songza and streamed some music to change things up a bit. (To my surprise, when Gettin' Jiggy With It, came on I got really, really happy. That song is legendary.)

From Burrell's Walk 

Once home I rushed through a shower and then headed right back out the door, this time on my way into town for the NVS (Newcomers and Visiting Scholars) coffee hour and talk. This week the talk was about the city of Cambridge and how rapidly it's growing. Currently it's a population of about 130,000 people, and by 2020 it's expected to double in size. Apparently Cambridge and the surrounding area is the fastest growing region in the UK. They have all the same problems that many growing towns have (too much traffic, lack of parking, not enough public transportation to meet demand, lack of affordable housing). We learned a bit about how the City Council is trying to meet all these challenges (A job I'm glad I don't have . . .) How do you preserve a medieval city while bringing it into the 21st century to serve modern times? People really romanticize Cambridge (with good reason) and there are millions of tourists that come here each year, but it's also a thriving community that has practical needs. It will be interesting to see how it changes throughout the years.

After the talk my friend Amber and I went to lunch at the Rainbow Café (the only exclusively vegetarian restaurant in town) and had a lovely lunch and nice chat (though I wouldn't recommend the soup Amber ordered; chickpea and roasted red peppers, she described it as "crunchy", which I don't think was the chef's intention . . . ) We ran a few errands in city center, stopping by the groovy store, then  fawning over the market's coffee and tea booth, and a quick trip to Marks & Spenser for some necessities (see below . . .)


Back home I immediately put my purchases at Marks & Spenser to work.
Remember that post where I mentioned Parisian Hot Chocolate?


It turned out pretty good, I have at least 1.5 cups leftover as that stuff is chronic! (very strong!)
I followed this recipe, and tried it with just 1 Tablespoon of brown sugar, but ended up adding the second as it was too bitter for me. Even with the 2nd Tablespoon it was just barely sweet. I think my chocolate was 100% bitter, so I had to add all the sweet myself (think Baker's chocolate).





Shortly I'll be heading back out to meet Devin and some of his lab-mates for dinner and Skyfall.
Did you know in the UK (and apparently in other EU countries as well) they have assigned seating in the movie theaters? Oh, which brings me to my other "necessity purchase":



Overall, Tuesday = A good day.
Hope the same was true for all of you!