Sunday, February 28, 2010

Dark Days - Week 15

I know other people have felt like they were "cheating" when they use breakfast as their dark days meal, but I am not one of those people.  Maybe if I made bacon and eggs every week and called it good... but I feel as though my breakfast meals have been just as creative as the dinner ones.

This afternoon I came home and made myself quite a meal for lunch... I had just returned home from a two-hour spin class in preparation for a ride I am doing in May (more about that another time), and I was FAMISHED.

I had frozen some of the leftover polenta pancakes last time I made them and threw 2 of them in the toaster while I whipped up more strawberry syrup and an omelet.

Inside two eggs I added: swiss cheese (after buying this for the french onion soup I have found it keeps really well and it very tasty when added to a plethora of dishes and so I keep buying more when I run out!), 1 bison breakfast sausage, onions, mushrooms and one non-local cheat: spinach. 

I just had to have some greens in there, and getting myself to the local farmers market is difficult since I work at the gym Saturdays when it is open.  In May, once the big market on Sundays open, I have no problems... but for now it's a tad difficult.

Friday, February 26, 2010

Dinner last night

Have you ever heard of groupons?  Well, dlb is recently obsessed with them, and as a result we will be trying lots of new restaurants in the next year.  (he also got me a massage, so no complaints here).

Last night we went to The Reserve in Federal Hill after work.
Brie, Bacon, Lobster Mac & Cheese.  Seriously.

Seared Scallops with a pile of mango chutney with a lavender syrup

Bison Burger with cheese + fries (SOOOO good)

Arugula salad with candied walnuts, craisins, mustard dressing and bell pepper strips.  The balls are gorgonzola almond fritters.  They were crazy!

I ended up taking home leftover salad AND mac and cheese... the salad was lunch today (after adding some spinach and chickpeas), and the mac and cheese became my dinner, after adding sauteed spinach & mushrooms.  Voila:

I am a HUGE fan of using even the tiniest amount of leftovers in repurposed form for future meals because it just KILLS me to throw away perfectly good food, and thankfully I've gotten past the point in my life where the solution to that was clearing my plate wherever we ate (can we say tummy ache?).

The food was all very tasty... the only critique I have was for the mac and cheese: I'm not sure Brie is my cheese of choice for a pasta dish.  Turkey Brie Cherry Chutney sandwich at Golden West - totally sold.  Brie wrapped in crescent roll and baked into deliciousness - yes, please.  But melted in a mac & cheese setting?  Not as big a fan.

Winter Buyers Co-op, Week 4

This week: more cremini mushrooms (we're not sick of them yet - we really LOVE mushrooms), sweet potatoes, hydroponic greenhouse lettuce, sweet italian pork sausage, rutabagas, flavored yogurts.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Thursday Design Post

Looking back through my photos in February, this is one of my favorite shots from this month:

This is no surprise, since I have a un-healthly obsession with power lines, and trees covered in snow so they look "just-so".

In other news, I am taking a life drawing class Tuesday nights at MICA.  This makes me unbelievably happy, even though it will often make for a very long day!  An old friend of mine had approached me with the idea of taking the class together (both of us have backgrounds in art and miss it terribly), things just fell in place, and now we're going into our third week.  SO EXCITING!

Monday, February 22, 2010

Dark Days - Week 14

This week I got a tiny bit more creative since I felt I had the energy to put something together on Sunday.  It didn't hurt that our co-op share was enormous this week!

I started with a recipe for roasted turnips and beets in a yogurt mint sauce.  I actually didn't have any mint, so it ended up being a yogurt dill sauce!  The recipe was from a great food demo at Mill Valley where we get our co-op.  It was tailored specifically to what we had just received over the past couple weeks.  I unfortunately was unable to go, but of course Cheryl was nice enough to post all the recipes on her blog.  Go there to check out the details for this salad.

Here the veggies are nice and roasted:

And then combined with the yogurt sauce:

For the main dish I prepared spelt pasta with a bison meat sauce.  The sauce had ground bison, onions, carrots, LOTS of cremini mushrooms - and then for the tomato base I actually used a big jar of locally made salsa (ha ha... it was $3 less than the pasta sauce, and it was mild, so I figured it was practically the same thing!).  I think the biggest hole in my local food pantry has been the lack of tomatoes since we didn't get enough to can due to the blight!

I added generous amounts of dried spicy oregano we harvested from our plant after we accidently forgot to continue watering it inside and it dried up and died.  I think that really made the difference in turning the salsa into a pasta sauce.

That's it for this week... although if you count frozen previously made soups, I also had another serving each of french onion and beef/cabbage/white bean.  I love being about to whip out those single serving soups for a nice warm meal!

Saturday, February 20, 2010

fun at the SPCA

tiny grey kitten

This dog was hilarious.  She loved the snow, and their were mountainous piles in the "fun run" (enclosed area where we can let them off leash).  She ran loops around the run, running and jumping off the snow piles at crazy speeds.

Friday, February 19, 2010

Winter Buyers Co-op, Week 3

SO MUCH FOOD!  From the top left: assorted baby beets, bison "cubes" (I'm guessing it will make good stew meat), yogurt, baby turnips, 3 Matzu apples, 3 pink ladies, 3 of something else I forget type of apples, 8 oranges, 1 grapefruit and more cremini mushrooms.  (one of the fruits was to make up for none last week)

Thursday, February 18, 2010

What I Wore Today

These pictures are slightly silly because I just got home from a wine tasting and dlb was enjoying taking pictures AND making fun of me.  So that's that.
This is not the best representation of this dress... but it is what I have to show head to toe.  Some day I will get myself set up with a tripod so I can take reasonable head-to-toe shots.  Somehow I am not good at being photographed by others.

Coincidently, this necklace was made by the same artist in Jerusalem as the one in my last wardrobe post... also made of ceramic.

I didn't think I could wear these tights, but with the grey dress and the black boots I think it balanced out enough.

Dress: H&M, winter 2009 (I'm pretty sure I paid like $5 for it!)
tank: target, spring 2009
tights: target, winter 2009
Necklace - CADIM ceramic co-op, Jerusalem
boots: canfields sporting goods (Omaha, NE)  (SO good for the snow!)

Tuesday, February 16, 2010


Originally uploaded by daftly smitten
Monday night our street was finally cleared and today we took the car out ON THE STREETS! To work! In the car!  Nice to be independently mobile again.

Monday, February 15, 2010

Dark Days - Week 13

This week was a little odd.  The continuation of "Snomaggedon" (or snOMG, which I think is a wee bit hilarious) meant that dlb and I were home Monday - then both had horrificaly complicated commutes getting to work Tuesday (neither involving our car, still buried in snow), then gave up and stayed in both Wed and Thursday.  Friday dlb HAD to get in to work... since unlike me, his office hadn't ever been declared "closed" and he can't work remotely and staying home again would mean not getting paid again!  So he pushed through the pathetic skeleton of public transportation to get to DC, while I stayed in again and worked from home.  As I write this (SIX DAYS after the snow stopped falling), we have still yet to get the car out onto the roads.  (although it is a goal of ours, since we're both planning on getting to work tomorrow... today was a planned day off for me since dlb's office is closed for President's Day.)

ANYWHO.  This week was odd, but that doesn't mean that there wasn't some good local eating happening.  It was just in little random bits.

Wednesday morning I decided I was going to make Bittman's polenta pancakes, which had been recommended to me on a local food thread I follow.  Throughout the snow storm people were posting what they were cooking at home and it was wonderful inspiration!

Adapted from Mark Bittman's Polenta Pancakes :

1/2 cup cornmeal (I used yellow stoneground grits we had purchased on a trip south)
1 tablespoon sugar, optional (I used local maple syrup instead)
1 1/2 cups flour (here I used  a mix of 2/3 local roasted cornmeal, 1/3 local whole wheat pastry flour)
1 teaspoon baking powder
2 eggs
1 1/4 cups milk, more as needed
Butter or olive oil as needed.

1. Combine cornmeal (or grits) in a small saucepan with 1 1/2 cups water and a pinch of salt. Whisk until smooth while bringing to a boil over medium heat, then continue to stir for about 10 minutes. Turn heat off and let cool.

2. Heat a griddle or large skillet over medium-low heat. In a bowl, mix sugar, flour, baking powder and a little salt. Beat eggs into cornmeal, then stir in milk. (here it made more sense to me to stir in the cold milk first, thereby cooling the grits enough to not cook the eggs).  Add to flour mixture and stir to combine, adding milk if necessary to make a batter.

3. Add about 1 tablespoon butter or oil to griddle. When hot, add batter by large spoon. Cook until lightly browned on bottom, 3 to 5 minutes, then turn and brown second side. Repeat, using more butter or oil.

Yield: 4 servings.
Over these cakes I served up strawberry syrup, made by simply taking about a cup of frozen locally hand-picked strawberries from the freezer and heating them up with just one TBS maple syrup.  YUM!
THEN, last night dlb prepared a VERY delicious Valentine's Day meal for us - the absolute highlight of which was this 100% local dish he called Potatoes Anna.  He layered very thinly sliced potatoes and apples(using a mandoline) with onions, mushrooms, salt, pepper and a bit of cream into a pie dish and baked it forever (loose recipe, obviously).  I was way too busy swooning over the intense flavors of this dish to pay too much attention to the exact details of how it was made.  Why Potatoes Anna?  That's what they called it on the internets where he found the base recipe.  He altered it a ton though according to what we had on hand.

Friday, February 12, 2010

Winter Buyers Co-op, Week 2

Here's what we brought home Thursday from Mill Valley: green cabbage (a big one!), cremini mushrooms (fyi, last weeks were white button), carrots, butter, bison breakfast sausage.  Just 5 items.  We held off on getting a fruit for the week since the produce from Baughers hadn't arrived due to snow issues.

It was awesome that they were open... and it was a fun walk to go and pick up our share.  (correction: I enjoyed the walk, however dlb did not.  His boots have lost their water-proofness and the slush made his feet awfully cold).  The streets were busy with foot traffic and the occasional truck, and it was good to get out and walk around, since my gym was still closed and I was jonesing for some cardio outside the house.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Design Thursday: Our House

I made a fatal mistake when I put out the idea that I would be sharing posts on design from our house: I would have to make our house presentable enough to photograph and share with the world.
At first I was even at a loss as to what I would post... what is blog-worthy enough in our humble abode???
Well... I think I have somewhere to start, and maybe it will have to be a goal of mine to straighten things up enough that I can take a few photos each month.  It wouldn't be a terrible thing for things to be a little more orderly here!

This week I'm going to show one little section of the wall in our living room that I would call a creative use of the space that we're given.  With the door to our 1/2 bath to the left and the entry to our kitchen to the right, this is a small little swatch of wall.  It is further complicated by the thermostat (digitally programmable energy efficient thanks to BGE!), and an intake vent for the heating and cooling system.

My solution was to hang this little triad of paintings I did for a history of photography class back in undergrad.  I can't remember the artist I was emulating (if you figure it out, let me know!), but it was indeed an assignment where you mimic the style or process of a known photographer.  I found this to be a curious solution to the assignment, since at the time I was a photo major considering switching to a painting major - and this artist took found tin-types and created a new piece of art by incorporating them into a painting of his own.  I was thrilled to get away with submitting a painting for a photo assignment!  These bring back fond memories of sitting with friends at Village Inn, working on the assignment (yes - I had my paints out in the restaurant!) and finding visual inspiration from my friend Becky's biology book (or was it chemistry?) for the orange painting in particular.

Anywho... I recruited the hubby to hang them since they have no proper backing or frames and in the past had simply been displayed on a wall shelf.  His solution was 3 little tiny nails acting as brackets of sorts to hold them on the wall.  I love how it turned out!

A word about Haiti...

I've been contemplating a post on Haiti ever since I stumbled upon this post over at everybody likes sandwiches (go on... click on over and read the post).  I wasn't going to "go there," but I was just really inspired by what I saw.

What these bloggers have done through blog aid: recipes for Haiti is astonishing.  I bought the book right away, and would encourage you to do so as well - right now!  Click here and buy it!

(p.s. here starts the rant... skip over it if you aren't feeling all that open-minded at the moment)
What you might not know about me - which makes this endorsement all the more interesting - is that I despise crisis campaigns.  Before you go and make a mean face at me - hear me out:  I studied fundraising for my masters, so I know how successful crisis campaigns can be.  I also know how unsuccessful they can be in actually getting people the help that they need.  Remember when all those wonderful people collected blankets and shipped them all the way to Myanmar (which, btw, is Burma) after the cyclone/tsunami?  Oh you don't?  Probably since the blankets sat in a giant puddle and did nothing since Myanmar is in Southeast Asia - where it was HOT & HUMID at the time.   Beyond that - crisis campaigns focus the money and effort on a very short period of time and often over-look the long-term sustainability of the relief they are providing.  Anybody thought about how the people of Myanmar are doing nowadays?  Didn't think so.

I understand that what happened in Haiti was horrific, and that beyond the recent earthquake, the country has suffered numerous disasters... but what about the every day disasters here at home? How often is the entire country mobilized by hunger in OUR COUNTRY, by the state of the public schools, or providing people with decent healthcare? Pockets of people are, for sure - but the whole country... rarely.

And yet somehow, this cookbook made me start thinking a little less pessimistically about making a donation towards Haiti.

WHY? Well, bottom line, the organizers leveraged their funds to go as far as they could.

• the publisher donated their services so that all proceeds are donated to Haiti AND threw in a matching gift
• all bloggers who contributed obviously are not getting kick-backs
• the Canadian government will even be matching the funds (only until Feb. 12th though, so buy yours now!)
• you get an awesome cookbook out of it (although... don't get me started on people who buy pink things because 2% of the proceeds go towards breast cancer research - JUST donate $50 dollars already and make a real difference... but I'm not being judgmental at all, am I?)

Now, the only thing I am still not 100% supportive of is that the money is being funneled through the Red Cross and Doctors Without Borders. I am not a big fan of the Red Cross. Just heard too many stories of money not being handled the way it should in a non-profit (ie, sometimes they think they are a business, and they should be making a profit). But it’s Canada’s Red Cross…. So maybe they are better? Let’s hope.

I should also mention that there is another very similar fundraising effort going on over at Celiac Teen – who is a blog friend of my real-life friend Amy I. of Playing House. Since I found out about it after I had already written this whole thing… I will simply add that they are doing virtually the same thing, except I believe it’s an e-cookbook which you may download after donating whatever amount $10 and above you feel inclined to donate. All goes to Haiti – also comes with matching gifts from Canada (what up, Canada? You are rocking the food blog world!)

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Monday, February 8, 2010

Dark Days - Week 12: Mushroom Spelt Soup + Winter Buyers Co-op - Week 1

Hmmm... note to self: spelt is a poor substitute for pearled barley when making soup.  The yummy creaminess that you would get in a mushroom barley soup was just not achieved with this soup.  But I had local spelt, and I didn't have local barley - and so it goes.

This recipe is from one of my favorite cook books: The new American plate cookbook: recipes for a healthy weight and a healthy life by American Institute for Cancer Research.

I forgot to take pictures since the camera was in the other room from taking so many photos of the snow (24 inches more than we normally get).  So you will get snow pictures with this food post!

Mushroom & Barley Soup (find yourself some local barley and make this yourself!)
(check out AICR's website for more great recipes)
1 TBS canola oil
1 medium onion, chopped
2 celery ribs, chopped
1/2 cup pearl barley, rinsed and drained (I used spelt, which I soaked for 4 hrs in hot water first)
6 cups fat-free, reduced sodium veg broth (I used leftover homemade chicken and beef broths from my freezer)
5 cups chopped button mushrooms (about 3/4 pound)
2 tsp Worcestershire sauce (not local)
3 medium carrots, peeled and diced
salt, pepper, cayenne

In a large soup pot (I used a dutch oven), heat half the oil over med. heat.  Add onion and celery and saute for 3 min.  Add barley and stir constantly for 2 min. Add 4 cups of the broth and bring mixture to a boil.  Reduce heat to low, cover, simmer for 40 minutes.

Then, heat the remaining oil in a non-stick pan over medium heat and saute the mushrooms for 6 minutes.  The recipe says stir constantly, but this causes the mushrooms to leak all their moisture so I didn't stir very much.  Add Worcestershire and stir for one minute.  Remove mushrooms from heat, add in carrots and set aside.

Once 40 minutes is up, add the mushroom carrot mixture to the soup along with the remaining 2 cups broth and bring to a boil.  Reduce heat to low, cover, simmer for 30minutes.  Season with salt, pepper and cayenne.

I didn't realize how vital the pearl barley is to the overall texture and taste of this soup.  We each ate a bowl, but I took the remains and blended half of them in my magic bullet to try and get a creamier base for the leftovers.  Hoping that will help.

The mushrooms and onions were from our Winter Buyers Co-op Share - which started this week.  So exciting! I did remember to take a picture of that, so here it is:

Mushrooms, onions, potatoes, grapefruit, apple cider and ground bison.  All seasonal, all local except for the citrus.  All farmed more sustainably (is that a word?) than most...  Cheryl does a really good job at sourcing her products.  Due to the storm she has extended the deadline to buy into the Winter Buyer's Co-op through Saturday, February13th, so if you're local and interested, go in and sign up!  (We got the full 6-item share with meat and dairy.  There is also a veggie share with 4 items for less.)

Thursday, February 4, 2010

What I Wore Today

Today I wore what could be described as the most professional looking "comfy outfit" I own.  The pants are as cozy as pjs, the blazer is not too restricting, and the shoes are overly sensible.  Funny story about the pants: the hem of one of the pant legs came out roughly TWO months ago, but at the time I insisted that since I owned a sewing machine (albeit freshly packed in the box from the store... unopened and unexplored), there was really no reason to take them to the tailor - and I don't even have a tailor since my legs are generally the length of pants sold in stores, so I've basically never had anything hemmed.
Well, obviously I haven't quite pulled out the sewing machine yet... but was sick of not having my comfy black pants, so I brought them in Monday to the dry cleaners down the street - who I realized did alterations.  $4, and they were ready the next day.  FOUR DOLLARS!  ONE DAY!  I waited 2 months for this?  ABSURD.  All hail the comfy black pants.

This photo shoot is entitled: Jennie acts like she has a screw loose... in someone else's office.
Supposedly there was a touch better lighting in here, but it's all blown out by the flash of my stupid point and shoot.  Does my hair look that red in reality?  Not quite.  Only when I'm in very bright light.  Or at the end of the summer.  It's actually a nice camera... just not as nice as the hubby's SLR at home.
p.s. look closely - notice the striped lining on the sleeves?  half the reason I bought the jacket!
Really, REALLY, blown out with the flash.

Here's a refreshing photo with the Canon at home.  Still would have been nicer in natural light, but lo and behold the sun was gone.  This is one of my favorite necklaces of all time.

Black pants - GAP, circa 2004
V-neck beige striped shirt - GAP, circa 2008
Purple velour blazer (AKA my willy wonka jacket) - Rafaella at Filene's Basement, 2006?
Loafers - Born from the shoe closet at Von Maur
Necklace - CADIM ceramic co-op, Jerusalem

A treat

A treat
Originally uploaded by daftly smitten
Sadly, it's been a long time since I've had a latte made with enough care to have a design in the foam. It's not directly related, but in my experience foam like this has always accompanied an extremely well made espresso drink.  Hooray for the little things!

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Monday, February 1, 2010

Dark Days - Week 11: cabbage kale saute with cheese toast

This week I needed to use up leftover cabbage that's been chillin in the fridge for months now, and swiss cheese from last week's french onion soup.  Friday night I was looking for something not-so-heavy (we had a big dinner out on Thursday), so I decided to saute the cabbage in butter (about 1 TBS) along with a bunch of kale. Once it started to really get brown I added a bit of apple cider to keep things from burning and steam any of the bigger pieces that weren't cooked through.  Not exactly as decadent as "fried cabbage", but almost as tasty.  A normal family woud serve this as a veg side, but I simply served this along side a slice of locally made raisin bread toasted with melted swiss on top and called it a day.  A simple but filling dinner!