Thursday, January 29, 2009

Food - Roquefort Cheese BANNED?

This article was featured on the front page of the Washington Post website today. I already have my issues with the American government regarding cheese. I mean is it REALLY the government's business if I want to eat raw cheese? Why is it OK for THE MAN to say 'no raw cheese, it might make you sick' but cigarettes, which we KNOW make people sick are readily available?? Does this make sense to anyone else? No, nor does essentially banning a delicious cheese from our country as political punishment from an outgoing administration. What did the sheep farmers in Roquefort, France ever do to Bush?

I love this passage from the article: 'Underlying the hopes for improvement is an impression widely shared by people in France that President Obama's administration, free of baggage from the dispute over Iraq, will prove more sympathetic to France -- and in this case to the traditional cheesemakers of Roquefort. But Glandières noted that Obama has a lot to deal with. "I don't think Roquefort will be the first thing on his mind," he said. '

I've got one more hope pinned on Obama now - FREE THE CHEESE!

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Recipes - Gameday Chilis

Nothing says SUPERBOWL to me like a big pot of chili. It was our standard football meal in my house growing up, and even my great-grandma demanded it on Superbowl Sunday. Epicurious has a few non-traditional recipes featured that I thought sounded good. However, I doubt I will be allowed to deviate from our tried and true recipes come this Sunday. The spicy lamb and chorizo recipe sure it tempting, though.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Dress Up - Gladiators are back?

Apparently my favorite shoe trend last summer may be sticking around for another year. I forsee the trend going bolder in bright colors with metal accents. Is this a good thing? I have no idea, but I will probably get myself a pair anyway!

Monday, January 26, 2009

Home Style - Mimosa, Pantone's color of the year

Pantone has announced that 'Mimosa' is their color pick of the year for 2009. They chose it because it's 'the color of change, of hopefulness, of warmth and of good cheer.' How nice. For more, check out this article, and get ready to bring some yellow into the home this spring and summer.

Friday, January 23, 2009

Recipe - White Bean and Escarole Soup

White bean and escarole soup
Yes, I know the last recipe I posted was also for soup, but it's been a cold winter and soup is pretty much all I want to eat. Well, that and large hunks of slow-roasted meats, but that's another story. This is a very good soup that comes together FAST, is low cal, and tasty. What's not to love? I suppose if you can't find escarole, you could use spinach instead and just add it and the end to get hot. However, the texture of the soup will be totally different. The escarole has a much more substantial weight than spinach would.
1Tablespoon olive oil
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
1/2 teaspoon anchovy paste
1 lb. escarole, chopped, thoroughly washed and dried (get thee a salad spinner!)
4 cups chicken broth
1 15 ounce can great northern beans, undrained
1 Tablespoon cider vinegar
salt and pepper to taste
Parmesan cheese for garnish
In large pot, heat olive oil over medium heat. Add garlic and anchovy paste to oil and cook about 2 minutes, being careful not to burn the garlic. Add the escarole and cook until wilted, about 4 minutes, stirring the whole time. Add broth and beans, bring to a boil and simmer for 5 minutes. Add cider vinegar, salt and pepper to taste. Tope bowls with shredded Parmesan cheese.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Flickr Faves

Life has been really busy recently, and I feel I am neglecting my blogging. Since I have nothing else prepared at the moment, but wanted to post something, I settled on a few of my faves from Flickr.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Amusing - Inauguration Speech Generator

My office actually stopped today and we all watched the inauguration together. Well, the few of us in the office who actually battled the 'blizzard' of snow to come in. Anyway, I thought it was nice to be able to share that moment as an office, even though we all have very differing opinions. I got a kick out of this site, though I found it after the speech itself. Have a giggle, mad-libs style.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Home Style - Bird Mobiles

I have long thought I need a mobile of some kind in my downstairs powder room. Unfortunately, I saw the one I really want several years ago, but I would have had to sell a kidney to afford it back then. Now, I can't find anything else like it. However, I DO really like these bird mobiles I found over at etsy. Any one of them would be a pretty addition to a home.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Dress Up - Winter Coats on the Cheap

I love forever 21 (haha I just did a typo and it read forever 32, which would be more like it!) but I am painfully aware that I am too old to shop there. I normally try and go during 'off' hours for teenagers, like 5:30 PM on a Tuesday - teenager's still have curfews and stuff on school nights, right? I keep going back, though, because they have such cute stuff for really cheap. I went on New Year's Eve to buy a top for the evening (which I found for $20 and was told by multiple gay men that I looked 'HOT'). While I was there, I was ASTONISHED at the cute coats they had for super cheap. Seriously.

There are still months of cold weather left, ugh, and with the recession and after-holiday resolutions, who has money to spend on a new coat? ME, that's who, because I went to forever 21. So, if you are, err, over 21, gather your courage, and head to the nearest mall. Once one of these gorgeous coats are in your possession, you won't mind having to elbow a bunch of 15 year olds out of the way. Seriously.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Recipe - Black Bean Soup

Day 7

When I graduated from college, my mom took me on my first trip to the Caribbean for my graduation present. We went to St. Thomas and stayed in a nice hotel right on the beach with a great view across to St. John. I loved every minute of it, though most of those minutes were spent on a comfy beach chair sipping a coconut lime daiquiri.

I also loved the food. Our little hotel had a great restaurant, though I was shell-shocked by the prices ($26 for a fruit plate and pastry for breakfast?!?) which led me to order the least expensive thing on the dinner menu our first night - black bean soup. They brought it out steaming hot with little dishes of chopped tomatoes, cheese, salsa, and hot sauce so I could garnish at will.

Sadly, when we returned from the vacation, I tried every black bean soup recipe I could find, and they were ALL lacking. After many years of experimenting and many, many pots of soup, I finally got pretty close to that soup I loved so much that first vacation in the sun.

2 Tbsp olive oil
1 cup onion, chopped
1 carrot, chopped
4 cloves garlic, chopped
1/2 tsp cumin
1/2 tsp coriander
3 cups chicken broth
1/2 cup orange juice
2 15 ounce cans black beans, drained
1/2 tsp ground chipotle or hot sauce
salt and pepper to taste

Heat oil over med. heat in large pot. Saute onion and carrot until soft. Add garlic, cumin, coriander and cook one minute more. Add remaining ingredients and bring to a boil. Lower heat and simmer covered for 20 minutes. Use an immersion blender or food processor to puree until smooth.

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Parties - After Holiday-Holiday Party

Black, white, silver table setting

My local group of good friends normally has our own holiday celebration each year. This year, though, we couldn't make it happen before New Year's. So last Saturday, I hosted our 'After Holiday - Holiday Party.' I wanted to beef up my skills by doing a real sit-down 4 course supper, so I strong-armed them into agreeing to be my guinea pigs. I also used it as an excuse to use my pretty china and crystal.

Black, white, silver table setting

I chose a white, black, and silver theme for the table. I pulled together some ornaments that hadn't made it back to storage yet and filled up a few glass pieces with them for an easy centerpiece. I also tossed a few votive candles around for good measure.

Black, white, silver table setting

Some ribbon and paper scraps joined together made a quick napkin ring that doubled as a seating place card.

Olives. pecans, mushrooms

I set out olives, nuts, and marinated mushrooms to snack on while we waited for everyone to arrive and I finished up the last items for supper.

Butternut squash soup

I started the meal with a creamy butternut squash soup. I love it's pretty color, and with the help of an immersion blender, it could not be easier to make. I tossed a few roasted pecans on top for garnish.

Chopped salad

The second course was a simple chopped vegetable salad dressed with just a little oil and vinegar. The main course was a leg of lamb roasted with fennel butter and a red wine sauce. I also made individual portions of goat cheese potatoes au gratin in ramekins. However, it was all so good, that by the time I remembered I need to take a picture, this was all that was left!

Day 3

Most of my guests are not big on sweets, so I kept it simple for dessert with an apple cider granita and homemade whipped cream. I had also planned on a cheese course, but we were all so stuffed that we agreed to pass on the cheese, which nearly never happens! We ended the evening by burning off some of the calories from dinner with a competetive Wii bowling tournament.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Home Style - CB2's first 2009 catalog

I got CB2's new catalog in the mail yesterday. If you've never heard of them, definitely check them out. They are Crate and Barrel's cooler, younger sister. My home style doesn't totally fit their super modern aesthetic, but I always find lots of things I love (and their prices are great, too). Like the vases above, they are gorgeous and the most expensive one is still under $25.

And check out this super cool, camp inspired lamp. In yellow, even!

They also make it in chrome, too, in case yellow isn't your thing. These would be great flanking a (rarely used) fireplace or as bedside lamps.

I am also quite fond of the Avec sofa. It comes in red, too. Also, check out the description of this sofa on the site or in the catalog. Does it remind anyone else of Peterman from Seinfield?

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Amusing - 365 again

Day 5

I nearly made it through my previous attempt at taking a photo a day for 365 days, so I decided to try again in 2009. So, if you want to see a day to day journal of my shockingly uneventful life, feel free to visit here. Above is our dog on day 5. I love how it turned out, just a little hazy. That one 'flaw' in the image tells more about her personality than I could describe in 100 words.

Last 365 attempt, I really could see what a better photographer I became by practicing every day. I worked a lot on food pictures, so there will probably be plenty of those this go round, too. I'd also like to work on styling my photos more this year. Anyone have any tips for inspiration or care to join me in the challenge?